Repeat performances at the Breeders' Cup?

October, 24, 2013

Sequels are nothing new to Hollywood. Anyone who seen one of the numerous Ron Burgundy/Dodge Durango commercials promoting a car and the soon to be released "Anchorman 2" movie should understand that.

So it's not much of a surprise that in less than two weeks, when the Breeders' Cup returns to Santa Anita Park for a second year in a row, no less than nine horses will be bidding for an encore victory in the world championships.

How many will make it 2-for-2? Two horses seem best suited for it.

Silver Max will also return in the BC Mile, but he should face a stronger challenge on the front end with the likes of Obviously and Bright Thought in the field.

Wise Dan is the obvious one. A year ago, Wise Dan used a victory in the Breeders' Cup Mile as a springboard to Horse of the Year honors. He was undefeated this year and on course for another crown until his reputation was tarnished by a second-place finish in the Shadwell Turf Mile, a race that was actually the Shadwell Polytrack Mile since it was contested on Keeneland's synthetic main track because of downpour that turned the turf course into bog.

A Polytrack surface such as Keeneland's is generally kind to horses that like turf -- a handicapping principle underscored by Wise Dan's five wins in seven tries on an artificial surface prior to the Shadwell -- raising eyebrows about the Horse of the Year's runner-up finish. Wise Dan, though, had a couple of excuses in the race. He was bumped and then lost ground with a wide rally that fell 1 ¼ lengths shy of reeling in the frontrunning Silver Max.

Silver Max will also return in the BC Mile, but he should face a stronger challenge on the front end with the likes of Obviously and Bright Thought in the field. The rest of the field, which includes 2012 BC Juvenile Filly Turf winner Flotilla, lacks a monster from overseas. Put it all together and even if Wise Dan has lost a step, he can still win the BC Mile from memory.

The other candidate for a winning streak? Royal Delta (bidding for three straight wins in the Distaff/Ladies' Classic) and Groupie Doll (Filly and Mare Sprint) are both coming off losses and may be vulnerable this time around.

Beholder (Juvenile Fillies) is a bona fide threat to win the Distaff, but will have to fend off Royal Delta in the early stages and then Princess of Sylmar in the stretch. That's a tough 1-2 punch to duck.

Beyond them, Fort Larned (BC Classic) has to beat Horse of the Year favorite Game On Dude; Little Mike (BC Turf) turned in a highly improved effort in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic but faces a very tough field; and Trinniberg (BC Sprint) lost by 22 lengths in his last start.

Who does that leave? None other than the Queen of "The Jungle."

Jim Rome's Mizdirection enters the 2013 BC Turf Sprint looking very much like the filly who won the 2012 edition race, only now she's a 5-year-old mare.

The nearly 5-month–long gap since her last race may be a concern, but a year ago she won the race off a slightly longer break. Her last race, a fifth-place finish in the Just a Game at Belmont Park, marked the first time she finished out of the money in her 16-race career, but don't fret over it. The Just A Game was at a mile, hardly her preferred distance, and it was contested over a soaked, tiring, yielding turf course. Back at a 6 ½ furlong distance on firm turf at Santa Anita, where she's 6-for-6 in her career, a much more formidable Mizdirection figures to do something on Nov. 2 that might be familiar to racing fans who were watching a year ago.

On television, the regal kingdom for re-runs, you can rely on your trusty cable guide to point out a repeat showing of one of Rome's broadcasts. But if you're looking for a replay of a sensational effort by the smack-talking sports personality's horse, then the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint will be must-see TV.

• Bob Ehalt grew up a few furlongs from Belmont Park and has followed horse racing as a fan, turf writer or owner since 1971.
• Has won three Associated Press Sports Editors awards and was the recipient of the '09 Breeders' Cup media award for outstanding social media.



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