Horses

Curlin and Zenyatta overwhelming favorites

ARCADIA, Calif. — If there were any doubt about who would be the most dominating forces in the entry box for the 25th Breeders' Cup World Championships, the morning-line odds took care of that.

Reigning Horse of the Year Curlin and undefeated filly Zenyatta were made the overwhelming picks for the Breeders' Cup Classic and Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, respectively, when post positions were drawn Tuesday.

Curlin was installed as the 7-5 morning-line choice over 11 rivals in the $5 million Classic. Zenyatta was made the 3-5 favorite in a field of eight for the Ladies' Classic (formerly the Distaff).

While Curlin will begin his quest for a second straight Breeders' Cup title from post nine, Zenyatta was a little less fortunate.

The daughter of Street Cry with the patented late kick drew the rail, but trainer John Shirreffs is still confident his unblemished protege will be able to get into her ideal position Friday.

"I think more than the post position you have to have a little bit of racing luck with how the race unfolds. That's probably more important that the post you get," Shirreffs said. "She's very versatile, she comes from off the pace, and I think we're fine with the post position."

Unbeaten in eight career starts with three Grade I triumphs, Zenyatta faces the smallest quantity of competitors, but the race is also among the deepest.

Champion and defending winner Ginger Punch was made the 9-2 second choice, while Music Note, winner of three Grade I races this season, is the third choice at 6-1.

"I think Zenyatta just has to run her race," Shirreffs said. "I think the horse running to their level of performance is more important than the horses they have to beat."

Unlike last year when Curlin came into the Classic as one of several top 3-year-olds, the son of Smart Strike has established himself as the runaway leader of the racing world this season.

Still, this Classic promises to offer the chestnut colt one of his stiffest tests as it boasts one of the best international contingents ever as well as some dangerous dark horses in Grade I winners Colonel John and Tiago.

"It's a tough task, and it's no doubt a very contentious bunch of horses," said Eoin Harty, trainer of Colonel John. "The European group is by far the best European group we've seen in the Classic to date, and I think racing on a synthetic surface they have to be respected.

"I think even with the exception of Curlin there are certain horses to be reckoned with, but at the same time I truly believe in my horse's ability."

While there were no major stunning developments to come out of the draw, there were a couple of mild surprises.

One day after saying graded stakes winner Pyro was headed toward the Classic, trainer Steve Asmussen opted to send the colt to the Dirt Mile.

"It was an opportunity to spread out our chances," Asmussen said.

Mast Track will head to the Dirt Mile after developing a slight quarter crack in his right front.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader

  Comments