Uncle Mo

Havre de Grace sailed past a field of males to win the Woodward Stakes on September 10. Today she is 3-1 on the morning line in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

This is the third consecutive year a female has been among the favorites for thoroughbred racing’s marquee event now in its 28th year. Zenyatta, the first distaff winner in 2009 and, at the time, just the fourth female to ever run in the Classic, was favored to win again in 2010, but was overtaken by Blame in the final strides.

Uncle Mo, last year’s champion 2-year-old and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, is the slight 5-2 favorite this year. Trained by Todd Pletcher for Mike Repole, the 3-year-old son of Indian Charlie was scratched from the Kentucky Derby in May because of an acute illness that had dogged him since April, when he disappointed as odds-on favorite in the Wood Memorial.

In his first race since April 9, Uncle Mo handily won Belmont Park’s G2 Kelso Handicap, on October 1, the same day that Havre de Grace outdistanced a field of her own sex by eight lengths in the G1 Beldame at Belmont in what her trainer, Larry Jones, referred to as “a good tightener” for the Breeders’ Cup.

Havre de Grace, a 4-year-old daughter of Saint Liam, is owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms. It was Jones and Porter who teamed with ill-fated filly Eight Belles, who finished second to Big Brown in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, only to breakdown on the track just past the finish.

Uncle Mo, with rider John Velazquez, has drawn post 12 in the 12-horse field, while Havre de Grace, with Ramon Dominquez, drew post 10.

So You Think, a 5-year-old New Zealand-bred and a specialist from 10 furlongs to 1 1/2 miles, is the richest horse in the field with over $7.5 million won and is rated third at 5-1 on the morning line. Trained by Aiden O’Brien, the High Chaparral son has raced strictly on the turf in Europe and Australia – he placed third in the 2-mile Melbourne Cup – with 12 wins in 19 career races.

Five-year-old Flat Out, at 6-1, was an impressive winner over Drosselmeyer and Stay Thirsty (both also in the Classic field) in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, at Belmont on October 1, and was runner-up to Havre de Grace in the Woodward Stakes.

Friday’s Breeders’ Cup winners:

Juvenile Sprint at 6 furlongs
Bob Baffert/Rafael Bejarano

Juvenile Fillies Turf at 1 mile
Bill Mott/John Velazquez

Filly & Mare Sprint at 7 furlongs
Bill Kaplan/Juan Carlos Leyva

Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles
Steve Asmussen/Corey Nakatani

Filly & Mare Turf at 1 3/8 miles
Roger Attfield/John Velazquez

Ladies’ Classic at 1 1/8 miles
Bill Mott/Jose Lezcano

The Breeders’ Cup has grown from a 7-race, $10 million day to a 15-race, $26 million challenge and is the richest 2-day sporting event in the world, encompassing almost every division of Thoroughbred racing.