The Norman Transcript

National Sports

November 2, 2013

A familiar feeling in BC Classic

ARCADIA, Calif. — Real rematches in the Breeders’ Cup Classic are rare, with injuries and the breeding shed leading to early retirements and heavy turnover among the world’s top thoroughbreds.

But Saturday’s $5 million championship looks eerily similar to the 2012 edition, and not just because of the same sunny scenery at Santa Anita Park.

Despite coming in as the defending champion, Fort Larned is once again an underdog after a spotty year, with trainer Bob Baffert’s Game On Dude again the clear favorite after an undefeated 2013 that could earn the 6-year-old gelding an Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year.

While Game On Dude hasn’t lost since finishing seventh in what Baffert called “probably the worst race of his life,” Fort Larned has had a rough-and-tumble time since the 2012 Classic. He stumbled and lost rider Brian Hernandez in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, had a pair of fifth-place finishes in the Oaklawn and Whitney handicaps, and managed victories in the Stephen Foster Handicap and his last outing, the Homecoming Classic, at Churchill Downs.

“It’s been a roller coaster ride for sure,” said trainer Ian Wilkes, but “all is well” and problem-free for the 5-year-old horse coming into the Classic.

Fort Larned is the 6-1 third choice on the morning line behind last year’s second-place finisher, 5-1 Mucho Macho Man, and the 8-5 Game On Dude, but Wilkes believes another upset is a real possibility.

“You can never stop believing,” the trainer said. “If you do you are in trouble. In this business, you have to stay optimistic.”

Stealthy Panther:Game On Dude’s younger half-brother and stablemate Paynter is among the genuine long shots in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but Baffert this week called the 4-year-old colt his “stealth” runner in the race.

Baffert has had big moments with dark horse candidates before. Saddling the unbeaten favorite Indian Charlie in the 1998 Kentucky Derby, he instead won with his small, overlooked colt Real Quiet for the second of his three Derby victories.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Smoke turns corner at Indy

    INDIANAPOLIS — Drivers always say there’s something magical about Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the opportunity for NASCAR to race there opened the door for one of Jeff Gordon’s most treasured victories. It was a race Tony Stewart ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Roma tops Liverpool

    BOSTON — Marco Borriello scored in the 90th minute to give Roma a 1-0 victory over Liverpool in a preseason friendly Wednesday night at Fenway Park. There were limited chances until Borriello volleyed in a corner from in front of goal....

    July 24, 2014

  • Marcus Mariota helps Oregon’s PAC-12 title chance in preseason polls

    LOS ANGELES — Although Marcus Mariota knew he would be under a spotlight when he stepped onto the famed Paramount Studios lot Wednesday, the Oregon quarterback is getting quite comfortable in his starring role....

    July 24, 2014

  • Majka wins 16th stage, Nibali leads

    PLA D’ADET, France — On the last of four Pyrenees ascents, Rafal Majka winked at a French TV camera and tugged playfully at a motorcycle’s antenna....

    July 24, 2014

  • Aggie’s QB Chuckie Keeton talk dominates Mountain West media day

    LAS VEGAS — Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton got his junior season off to a superb start, only to have it derailed by a knee injury in Game 6....

    July 24, 2014

  • Heavily favored U.S. group faces off against world’s best female golfers

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The inaugural International Crown is unique for what it isn’t. Thirty-two elite players from eight countries will compete at Caves Valley Golf Club to determine which nation has the best women’s players in the world. ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Weir, DeLaet attempt to end 60-year Open drought

    MONTREAL — Mike Weir was well aware that it has been 60 years since a Canadian won the Canadian Open....

    July 24, 2014

  • Pyrenees help leader Nibali, winner Rogers in Stage 16

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Pyrenees on Tuesday lived up to their reputation for causing ups and downs at the Tour de France: A French rider climbed in the standings, an American went down, and an Australian rebounding from an ordeal ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Mountain stage rough on Yankee rider

    BAGNERES-DE-LUCHON, France — The Tour de France entered the Pyrenees on Tuesday for the first of three mountain stages that may well determine the final podium of this year’s race....

    July 23, 2014

  • Strong prefers not talking about a national title

    DALLAS — Charlie Strong riled up plenty of Texas fans during a statewide spring tour by saying the Longhorns wouldn’t be in the national championship game....

    July 23, 2014