Thirteen horses, including Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, were pre-entered for the $5 million Classic, a 1¼-mile test which will be shown live in prime time on Nov. 2 on NBC. Post time is scheduled for 8:35 p.m.
Godolphin Racing’s Alpha, the 2012 Aiken-trained Horse of the Year, is one of 12 horses pre-entered in the $1 million Dirt Mile, scheduled for Nov. 1. Alpha won the Grade I Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in August.
Palace Malice will ship from Belmont Park, where he won the Belmont Stakes in June, to Santa Anita on Tuesday. He will be ridden by John Velazquez.
Palace Malice is one of two horses trained by Todd Pletcher to be pre-entered for the Classic. Trainers Bob Baffert and Bill Mott also have two each.
In addition to the Dogwood Stable horse, Pletcher has Graydar. Baffert has Game On Dude and Paynter and Mott has Flat Out and Ron the Greek.
Fort Larned is back to defend his title in the Classic, a race he led all the way in winning as a 9-1 long shot last year.
Besides Fort Larned, the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers in last year’s Classic will take another shot.
“Looks like a heck of a field,” Pletcher said.
Defending horse of the year Wise Dan was pre-entered in the $2 million Mile. Royal Delta will defend her title in the $2 million Distaff, which has reverted to its original name after being called the Ladies’ Classic since 2008.
Final entries and the post position draw will be Monday at Santa Anita, which is playing host to the event for the seventh time.
Chad Brown had a leading 11 horses pre-entered, including Last Gunfighter in the Classic. Pletcher was second with nine.
Co-owned by retired Dodgers and Yankees manager Joe Torre, Game On Dude is 5-0 this year, including Grade 1 wins in the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic. He’ll try to win the Classic for the first time after getting nipped at the wire by Drosselmeyer in 2011 and fading to seventh as the favorite last year. Mike Smith, the leading Breeders’ Cup jockey with 17 victories, will ride him.
“You’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game and you need racing luck,” Baffert said.
Fort Larned has been inconsistent this year, with just two wins in five starts. He will try to join Tiznow in 2000-01 as the only two-time winners of the Classic.
Mucho Macho Man is coming off a win in the Awesome Again Stakes in September at Santa Anita, where he has been training for the Breeders’ Cup after coming from the East Coast.
Mott, who won the Classic with Cigar in 1995 and Drosselmeyer two years ago, will saddle Flat Out and Ron the Greek, who finished third and fourth, respectively, last year. Flat Out is coming off a third-place finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in September. Sent off at 21-1 odds, Ron the Greek won the Gold Cup by 6¾ lengths in a stark reversal of his recent form.
Two talented 3-year-olds, Palace Malice and Will Take Charge, were set to run in the Classic. Palace Malice followed up his Belmont win with a victory in the Jim Dandy. Will Take Charge, trained by 78-year-old D. Wayne Lukas, won the Travers and the Pennsylvania Derby.
Besides Palace Malice, Pletcher’s other entry is Graydar, winner of the Donn and New Orleans handicaps.
Among the other pre-entries in the Classic are Juddmonte International winner Declaration of War, trained by Irishman Aidan O’Brien, and Ireland-bred Planteur, third in the Dubai World Cup.
There will be nine races Nov. 2, including the $2 million Juvenile. Pletcher, Baffert, O’Neill and Dale Romans have two entries each.