2013 Breeders' Cup Trainers
by Trevor Whenham - 10/29/2013
The depth of talent and accomplishment among the trainers at the Breeders’ Cup every year is absolutely incredible. Outside of the Triple Crown, there is no weekend in North America that trainers work harder to succeed at. What is so remarkable is that even the best trainers fail to win far more often than they succeed. Trying to pick out just a few trainers to talk about amongst all the greats we will see this year is a thankless task, but here are eight that are worth mentioning.
Chad Brown: Brown has only been on his own since 2008, and he secured his first Breeders’ Cup win in his first year with Maram in the Juvenile Fillies Turf and his second last year in the Filly and Mare Turf. No trainer will be busier on Breeders’ Cup weekend — Brown has 10 horses entered, with Easter Gift also listed as an also-eligible in the Dirt Mile. The pressure will really be on in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, where he trains four of the 14 entrants. It would be very embarrassing to have nothing to show from that. He will also send out two in the Turf, including fourth choice Big Blue Kitten. His Bobby’s Kitten is the 5/2 favorite in the Juvenile Turf. A win there would be very special since the horse is named after late trainer Bobby Frankel, Brown’s long-time boss and mentor.
Todd Pletcher: Pletcher has seven Breeders’ Cup wins, most recently with Shanghai Bobby last year in the Juvenile. As we have come to expect, Pletcher arrives with a deep and wide stable this year — eight entrants will enter the starting gates if all goes according to plans. Princess of Sylmar is the second choice in the highly-anticipated Distaff. Verrazano was a disappointment on the Triple Crown trail, but he has bounced back well and is favored to win the Dirt Mile. Pletcher will take another shot at winning the Juvenile with favorite Havana.
Doug O’Neill: O’Neill has won three Breeders’ Cup races but none since 2007. He’s a controversial figure with a shady past tainted by drug suspensions. He knows how to train winners, though. There are several longshots among his nine entrants, but he has a couple of very live contenders. Goldencents, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby and owned partly by Rick Pitino, is the second choice in the Dirt Mile. Private Zone is the Sprint favorite.
Bob Baffert: Baffert has eight Breeders’ Cup wins. Lately he has been more known for the missed opportunities. Last year he went 0-for-9 with an absolutely loaded stable of contenders. This year his stable is perhaps not quite as strong as last year, but it is still dangerous with eight solid runners. He has Classic favorite Game On Dude and intriguing longshot Paynter in that race as well. Secret Circle is the second choice in the Sprint. That horse was Baffert’s last Breeders’ Cup winner when he took home the now-defunct Juvenile Sprint in 2011.
D. Wayne Lukas: Lukas is the undisputed master of the Breeders’ Cup with a record 19 wins over his long career. He hadn’t won a Breeders’ Cup race since 2005 before taking the Juvenile Sprint last year. At 78 years old it was easy to write Lukas off as a guy who didn’t know when he was done in recent years. He has had a remarkable resurgence this year, though, winning the Preakness and the Travers with two different horses. This year he enters five horses, highlighted by Travers champ Will Take Charge taking on older horses for the first time in the Classic and Strong Mandate, the co-second choice, in the Juvenile.
Bill Mott: Mott has won nine Breeders’ Crown races, including the last three editions of the Ladies Classic (now the Distaff). His most famous was the 1995 Classic with Cigar. Mott is going through a resurgence of his own — he won his first Breeders’ Cup race in 1987, but four of his nine wins have come in the last three years. This year he has five entrants, and is focused on the biggest races. He has two entrants in the Classic and two more in the Distaff, including favorite and two-time defending champ Royal Delta.
Aidan O’Brien: O’Brien, the private trainer for the wildly-successful Ballydoyle Stables in Ireland, has won seven Breeders’ Cup races, with five coming on the turf. This year O’Brien has five horses entered. He has twice finished second in the Classic, and he will take another shot this year with Declaration of War. The jockey for that horse will be his son, Joseph. O’Brien is in a bitter fight with Richard Hannon, who saddles Olympic Glory in the Mile, for top trainer honors in Britain.
Richard Mandella: Mandella has won seven Breeders’ Cup races. He took four in a remarkable 2003 season, but then he hadn’t won another until Beholder scored in the Juvenile Fillies last year. What’s most useful here is that all seven of those wins have come at Santa Anita. He is 0-for-19 in Breeders’ Cups at all other tracks and 7-for-17 at Santa Anita. He has just three entrants this year, but two are very good. Beholder is one of three elite contenders in a brilliant Distaff. Indy Point is the third choice in the Turf.
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