The horses do the work, and the jockeys keep them out of trouble. The trainers are the ones that have to get the horses to the starting line and worry about every single thing along the way. It's a tough gig - you get the glory when you win, but more often you get the blame. As we get ready for the Breeders' Cup, it's always interesting to look at the long list of trainers with horses entered to pick out the most interesting storylines. Here are eight that stand out this year:
Bob Baffert: Baffert has won 11 Breeders' Cup races - most recently the Classic last year with Bayern. In recent years we have gotten used to him bringing a massive stable of contenders to the weekend. It is striking, then, that he has just one this year. Of course, that one happens to be the most-talked-about horse here - Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Classic. Not having him in the Juvenile races is particularly shocking - he has won the Juvenile three times and finished second three more times, while he has two wins and four seconds in the Juvenile Fillies.
Todd Pletcher: Seven times he has been named the top trainer in the country. He should have more than the seven Breeders' Cup wins he has, then. He has 11 chances to get his first win since 2012 this year. Notables includes Rachel's Valentina, the daughter of Rachel Alexandra, in the Juvenile Fillies, three solid contenders in the Distaff led by Got Lucky, and strong Dirt Mile favorite Liam's Map, who most expected to see in the Classic. Pletcher has plenty of chances, but I am getting too used to being disappointed by him on this weekend and during the Triple Crown.
John Gosden: Gosden has four Breeders' Cup wins, with the most notable being a rare European win in the Classic with Raven's Pass in 2008. This year he only has two horses here, but they are excellent. Golden Horn is not only the overwhelming favorite in the Turf, but he has a claim for being the best horse entered on the weekend. Cymric is the early favorite in the Juvenile Turf. His post position of 13 was a major concern at the draw, but he has looked incredible since arriving on the track.
Aidan O'Brien: O'Brien, a superstar trainer in the U.K., has eight Breeders' Cup wins and 27 Top-3 finishes. He is always a threat here. This year he has seven horses entered, including two of the odder stories among legitimate contenders. Found, a filly in the Turf, is making her third start in a major stakes race since October 4 - all in different countries. Gleneagles in the Classic will be running on dirt for the first time and has never run further than a mile. You always have to respect an O'Brien horse, but these two make it tough.
Chad Brown: Brown is the American king of the turf. He has five Breeders' Cup wins and 12 Top-3 finishes - all in turf races. None have come in the two big turf races, though - the Mile and the Turf. Among his 12 entries this year - all in turf races - he has three shots to end the streak in the Turf. He likes multiple opportunities to win - he also has three entered in the Filly and Mare Turf, and two each in the Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Andre Fabre: French legend Fabre has four wins and 14 Top-3 finishes in Breeders' Cup races. All but one have come on the turf. The exception was more than notable - in 1993 he won the Classic with Arcangues at a Breeders' Cup record of 133/1. This year he has a small but loaded contingent - the third favorite in the Filly and Mare Turf, and the top two choices in the Mile.
Mark Casse: Casse, Canada's best trainer for years, has increasingly focused on breaking through in the U.S.. He is red-hot at Keeneland, having split the training title at the recently-completed meet. He has five set to race in the Breeders' Cup and a sixth that is also eligible. There are several long shots among the group, but Airoforce has a good chance to be favored in the Juvenile Turf by post time. Casse has not won a Breeders' Cup race in 23 tries, but he has been second twice and third three times.
Jimmy Toner: At age 19 Toner became the youngest to ever train a winner. That was in 1960. Now 75, Toner has a stable of just 12 horses. That makes it remarkable that he has two starters here - Time and Motion in the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Recepta in the Mile. Neither is anything close to a favorite, but he still has more shots at a win than many big-name trainers this year. Toner has a previous Breeders' Cup title to his credit - in 1999 he won the inaugural Filly and Mare Turf with Soaring Softly. Recepta has won Toner's only graded stakes since 2012.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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