Keeneland

Breeders' Cup: Trainers, jockeys, owners to watch

Owner Ken Ramsey, center, led Bobby's Kitten to the winner's circle with jockey Joel Rosario aboard. Bobby's Kitten rallied from last in the 14-horse field to win by half a length.
Owner Ken Ramsey, center, led Bobby's Kitten to the winner's circle with jockey Joel Rosario aboard. Bobby's Kitten rallied from last in the 14-horse field to win by half a length. AP

The Breeders' Cup annually attracts more than 100 of the world's top horses. With all that racing talent come the biggest human names in the sport. Here are several you'll be hearing about this weekend:

Trainers

Mark Casse: Casse is primed to end his 0-for-23 run in the Breeders' Cup with a strong contingent that could feature as many as six starters including multiple Grade I winner Tepin.

Aidan O'Brien: Eight-time Breeders' Cup winner O'Brien always merits attention whenever he sends a group stateside.

Todd Pletcher: The seven-time Eclipse Award winner has saddled 108 Breeders' Cup starters — second only to his mentor D. Wayne Lukas for most all time — with seven wins to his credit. He has a leading contender in the Dirt Mile with Liam's Map but, remarkably, is not set to have any starters in the Juvenile — a race where he has had 17 entrants.

Richard Mandella: Of the eight Breeders' Cup wins for Mandella, none have come outside of California. He has arguably never brought a better horse to the World Championships, however, than two-time Eclipse Award winner and two-time Breeders' Cup victor Beholder, who is set to take on males in the Classic.

Dale Romans: The Louisville native is bringing Travers winner and American Pharoah conqueror Keen Ice to the Classic and has a Juvenile contender in Grade I winner Brody's Cause.

Jockeys

Florent Geroux: The native of France won the first Grade I race of his career in last year's Breeders' Cup when he guided Work All Week to victory in the Sprint. Geroux could be poised for another big day with mounts aboard Grade I winner I'm a Chatterbox (Distaff) and Arlington Million winner The Pizza Man (Turf).

Joe Bravo: The man they call "Jersey Joe" may have a career weekend in the Bluegrass come Oct. 30-31. Bravo, who is winless aboard eight prior Breeders' Cup mounts, is set to be in the irons for at least five contenders this year. Among Bravo's top hopes are multiple Grade I winner Big Blue Kitten (Turf) and Grade I Champagne Stakes winner Greenpointcrusader (Juvenile).

Gary Stevens: The Hall of Famer and 10-time Breeders' Cup winner has used some of his highest praise in discussing his champion mount Beholder. Stevens has come back from retirement and injury numerous times and continues to rack up big race moments. Few would be more monumental than taking down the Triple Crown winner with a champion distaffer.

Mike Smith: Smith is the all-time leader in Breeders' Cup history among jockeys for money won ($26,904,260) and wins (21).

Irad Ortiz Jr.: Ortiz had a breakout year in 2014, finishing third in the nation in money won and winning his first Breeders' Cup race aboard Lady Eli in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Lady Eli is sadly sidelined this year but Ortiz has some live mounts, including Stephanie's Kitten in the Filly and Mare Turf.

Owners

Ken and Sarah Ramsey: Based in Nicholasville, the Ramseys are preparing to send another army of contenders by their homebred stallion Kitten's Joy into the Breeders' Cup. Bobby's Kitten seeks to defend his title in the Turf Sprint while Stephanie's Kitten, winner of the 2011 Juvenile Fillies Turf, takes another swing at the Filly & Mare Turf, a race she was second in last year.

Conquest Stables: Conquest Stables co-owner Ernie Semersky is one of racing's most colorful personalities and has backed up his passion by being an active participant in the sales arena in recent years. Conquest Big E (Juvenile) and Conquest Daddyo (Juvenile Turf) will carry the orange and teal silks in this year's Breeders' Cup.

Fletcher and Carolyn Gray: Breeding and selling horses is how the Grays make their living. But when I'm a Chatterbox failed to meet her reserve at the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, the Grays decided to race her themselves and now have a leading contender in the $2 million Distaff.

Bradley Thoroughbreds: Peter Bradley was a partner in 2014 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Dayatthespa and now has two contenders in that race this year with Grade I winner Watsdachances and Grade II victor Dacita.

Reddam Racing: J. Paul Reddam has two contenders in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in Grade I winners Nyquist and Ralis and also has Land Over Sea set for the Juvenile Fillies.

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