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Breeders’ Cup World Championships Conclude Saturday With Nine Races at Santa Anita

Published on Nov 4, 2023

The two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships conclude Saturday at Santa Anita Park with nine races, including the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic with Arabian Knight the 3-1 morning line favorite.

The Bob Baffert-trained 3-year-old colt began his career 364 days ago with a 7 1/4-length victory in the opening race on the Saturday Breeders’ Cup program lat Keeneland racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky.

Arabian Knight won his second start, the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas by 5 1/2 lengths Jan. 28.

Baffert opted for Arabian Knight to bypass the Triple Crown races, ultimately focusing instead on the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes July 22 at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey. Arabian Knight finished third as the 11-10 favorite, but resumed his winning ways in his next race, the Grade 1 Pacific Classic Sept. 2 at Del Mar, which as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge event earned him an automatic fees-paid entry into the Classic.

Ushba Tesoro and White Abarrio are the co-second choices at 4-1.

Ushba Tesoro began his career with three victories in his first 22 races, but the 6-year-old has won each of his last six, including the Grade 1 Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates March 25, rallying from last in a field of 15 in the only time in his 30-race career he ran outside of Japan.

White Abarrio, a 4-year-old, has six wins in his 14 starts, including two Grade 1 races, the Whitney Stakes Aug. 5 at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, New York, and the 2022 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida.

The race lost three potential starters.

Geaux Rocket Ride was euthanized Wednesday after failing to recover from surgery to repair a leg injury suffered while training at Santa Anita last weekend. The 3-year-old had three victories in his first four races this year, including the Haskell Stakes, and was beaten by a neck by Arabian Knight in the Pacific Classic.

Arcangelo, the 2023 Belmont Stakes winner, dropped out Tuesday due to an issue with his left hind foot. Trainer Jena Antonucci confirmed the issue with the horse’s foot, telling FanDuel TV that “he’s not fully resolving, and we’re running out of time” to successfully treat the problem before the race.

Kentucky Derby winner Mage had been expected to run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but never made the trip to Santa Anita

“Mage had a slight temp & didn’t eat up last night how he normally does,” co-owner Ramiro Restrepo posted on X, formerly Twitter, Sunday. “Timing stinks but lucky we caught it early. Can’t run at below 100%; horse comes first.”

Parking lots at Santa Anita Park will open at 7:30 a.m. with gates opening at 8 a.m.

The 12-race card is set to begin at 10:10 a.m., with the first Breeders’ Cup race, the $1 million Dirt Mile, being run as the third race with an 11:30 a.m. It will be followed by the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf, $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile, $2 million Distaff and $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Post time for the Breeders’ Cup Classic is 3:40 p.m. It will be followed by the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

USA Network will air the first two races and NBC the next five. The final two will be streamed on Peacock and FanDuel TV.

The 2023 Breeders’ Cup began with what was billed as “Future Stars Friday” with five races for 2-year-olds — the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint, $2 million Juvenile Fillies, $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf, $2 million Juvenile and $1 million Juvenile Turf — in front of a crowd announced at 43,377.

The all-sources handle for the 10-race program was $61,747,341, the third consecutive year the Friday handle has topped $60 million. The on-track handle was $6,541,751.

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