The horses are obviously the stars of the Breeders' Cup, but the trainers are a close second. The best trainers on the planet target this race, and they often bring many horses with strong chances to each edition of the Cup. There are so many impressive guys to watch and admire. Top Euros like Aidan O'Brien and Sir Michael Stoute. The best of the East Coast and the west. Huge volume mega-trainers with staffs of dozens, and those with tiny stables that handle every aspect of training by themselves. The specialists and the generalists. Regional trainers who are a big deal in the small waters of home and are bringing their best horse down for a shot at glory. There are countless storylines. As we look at all the trainers this year, here are five storylines that stand out to me for various reasons:
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Bob Baffert: Baffert is the king of California racing, so he is at home here. He has also won the last two editions of the Breeders' Cup Classic, so we know he is fully capable here. He comes with a loaded gun this year, too. Noted and Quoted is favored in the Juvenile Fillies. Lord Nelson and Drefong are the second and third betting choices in the Sprint. Klimt is the fourth choice in the Juvenile. Arrogate is the second pick in the Classic, and Hoppertunity is a contender as well. And Dortmund is favored in Friday's Dirt Mile. Baffert has won 12 Breeders' Cup races over the course of his career. It's a very good bet that he'll add at least one more this weekend. I'll be betting on him to win more than that.
Mark Casse: Long the dominant trainer in Ontario, Casse has spent the last few years spreading his strength into the States. And it's working. He won his first two Breeders' Cup races last year with Tepin and Catch a Glimpse, and I am bullish about his chances to win another this year. The headliner this year is Tepin, back again as favorite to repeat in the Mile. He has three horses in the two juvenile turf races on Friday. On Saturday Tepin is joined by the beautiful Valadorna in the Juvenile Fillies, Catch a Glimpse back and with a shot in the Filly & Mare Turf, and Classic Empire, who is the second choice, in the Juvenile. It's a strong stable for an exceptional trainer.
Chad Brown: No one in North America is better than Chad Brown at training horses on turf. He is just dominant. And he's looking to add to the seven Breeders' Cup titles he has won - six on the grass. He has two in each of the juvenile grass races on Friday, but none of the four are top contenders. On Saturday he has two, including favorite Lady Eli in the Filly & Mare Turf - a race he has won three of the last four years. A Lot is among the favorites in the Turf Sprint. Flintshire is favored in the Turf, and Money Multiplier is an intriguing long shot. He evens comes off the turf with contenders Practical Joke in the Juvenile and Wavell Avenue, the defending champion, in the Filly & Mare Sprint. It's a strong stable, and he has a good chance of winning at least one.
Jerry Hollendorfer: What a transition for Hollendorfer. For years he won pretty much every race run in northern California - he is one of just three trainers with more than 7,000 career wins - but rarely ventured outside his comfort zone. Every so often he would land a big horse and would venture out - he has won the Kentucky Oaks in 1991, 1996 and 2011, for example. In recent years, though, the quality of his stable has climbed dramatically, and he has become a big player. The shift really started in 2010 when he won the Dirt Mile and claimed the Two Year Old filly championship with Blind Luck - the 2011 Oaks winner. Then he won another Eclipse award - and so much more - with the spectacular Shared Belief. And now the incredibly special Songbird is his. He's got a great eye, and a better touch, and we all get to see it now. Songbird is favored in the Distaff, but she's not the only Hollendorfer entrant. Point Piper is a long shot in the Dirt Mile, and Tara's Tango is right in the mix in a wide open Filly & Mare Sprint.
David Hofmans: I hate Hofmans. He is a very good trainer and, I have heard, a very nice guy. I just hate him. I have had four favorite horses in the course of my long-time obsession with racing. Twice Hofmans has beat those horses in crushing fashion. Both times, I am man enough to admit, I cried. The first was in 1996 when the spectacular Cigar was looking to finish off his career with yet another win in the Classic. The race was at Woodbine, and I had traveled there from college to watch him. It wasn't meant to be. Hofmans pulled off the upset with Alphabet Soup at 19/1. The very next year I was absolutely certain that Silver Charm was going to win the Triple Crown, but Hofmans again ruined it with Touch Gold. Aside from Alphabet Soup, Hofmans has won Breeders' Cup races at 36/1 and 40/1. This year he again gets a chance to play spoiler. Melatonin is a live contender in the Classic, and he has a chance to ruin the coronation of California Chrome or the ascension of Arrogate.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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