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 World's best descend on Kentucky for Breeders' Cup

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PostSubject: World's best descend on Kentucky for Breeders' Cup   Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:20 am

Havre de Grace will attempt to emulate Zenyatta by becoming just the second female horse to win the feature event, Saturday's $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, while the mighty French mare Goldikova is looking to end her career with an unprecedented fourth straight victory in the $2 million Mile race on turf.

Both face the daunting prospect of having to take on and beat some of the best male horses from around the globe but remain among the star attractions at a $26 million carnival overflowing with intriguing plotlines.

Uncle Mo, who was earmarked as the next big thing in American racing [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] after he went through his 2yo season undefeated, has emerged as the sentimental favorite for the Classic after surviving a life-threatening liver disease that ruined his chances of competing in this year's Kentucky Derby.

And the first appearance in America of the globetrotting So You Think has given the feature race an international star with genuine hopes of succeeding on the Kentucky dirt.

Havre de Grace may not have endeared herself to the American racing [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] public in the same way as Zenyatta but the four-year-old could join her in the pantheon of greats by winning the country's richest thoroughbred race and possibly being named U.S. Horse of the Year.

"I don't think there's any doubt it's hers if she comes out on top," trainer Larry Jones said. "It could very easily be unanimous on it. She wins and it's a done deal."

Havre de Grace was posted at odds of 3-1 in early markets, just behind Uncle Mo (5-2) who was installed as favorite despite drawing wide and having raced just twice in the last six months since recovering from illness.

The colt has never run over the race distance of one and a quarter miles [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] but trainer Todd Pletcher was unfazed.

"There are 13 horses in the race," Pletcher said. "A mile-and-a-quarter is going to be too far for 12 of them."


So You Think, a winner of eight Group One races in Australia, Britain and [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] Ireland and more than $7.5 million in prizemoney, is the best-credentialed horse in the race but has never run on dirt before and was not due to even train on the track until Friday after being locked in quarantine.

His Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien, who has made a habit of plundering America's big races, has decided to race him blinkers, as he had done in his early races in Australia, in the hope that would help him get over the loose surface.

"He is a very relaxed horse in his races and sometimes can become too relaxed so we put a pair of blinkers on him in a piece of work at home just to try and make him concentrate a little bit more," said O'Brien.

Goldikova trainer Freddy Head dismissed the notion his six-year-old mare was unable to win in her final race before retirement after she was beaten three times in Europe this season.

"The goal is to be there at 100 percent Saturday," he said. "I don't think I could have her better.

"I feel great relief because the mare is well, she's very sound. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]I know it's going to be her last run but all I hope is that she finishes well and gives a good run."

Goldikova has been installed as the short-priced favorite but faces a tough job holding out Gio Ponti, who finished second to Zenyatta in the 2009 Classic and runner-up to Goldikova in the Mile a year ago.

"She's (Goldikova) going for something spectacular - winning this race four times," said Stuart Fitzgibbon, the commercial manager for Gio Ponti's owners, Castleton Lyons.

"She is in super form coming in to the race, but so is our horse. Hopefully, he'll run very well. Goldikova and Gio Ponti are two very consistent and very hardy horses."
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The 15-race carnival gets underway Friday with six races, including the $2 million Ladies Classic featuring Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty.
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