New York Sakhee will try to become Horse of the World. Trainer Bobby Frankel wants Aptitude to earn an Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year in North America. Galileo could lay claim to being the best 3-year-old on both sides of the Atlantic.
Just a sampling of the story lines for the eight-race Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships today at Belmont Park.
Tiznow (Classic), Macho Uno (Classic), Kona Gold (Sprint) and Spain (Distaff) each will try for a second Breeders' Cup victory, something accomplished by only four horses.
Trainer Bob Baffert can wonder what might have been if Point Given, a cinch for an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old, would have been able to compete against Sakhee, Aptitude and Galileo in the Classic. A loss by Aptitude would assure Point Given of Horse of the Year.
Point Given vs. Galileo was much anticipated until Point Given was retired in August because of a tendon injury after winning four straight $1 million stakes races.
"You've got to enjoy them while you have them and not look back," Baffert said.
Officer has Baffert looking ahead.
Unbeaten in five races, Officer, owned by Prince Ahmed Salman of Saudi Arabia, is favored to win the 1 1-16-mile Juvenile. That would clinch the 2-year-old championship and give Officer the favorite's role for the Kentucky Derby.
Sakhee was expected to be entered in the 11*2-mile Turf, but instead was put into the 11*4-mile Classic. He could polish his credentials by adding a victory in one of the world's top dirt races to that in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, one of the most prestigious grass events.
Unbeaten in three starts, Sakhee, owned the Godolphin Racing stable of the Maktoum family of Dubai, will be making his debut on the dirt.
While Sakhee would have been favored in the Turf, he is only the fourth betting choice in the Classic.
The Classic favorite is Aptitude, winner of three straight stakes, among them a 10-length score in the 11*4-mile Jockey Club on Oct. 6 at Belmont.
Aptitude is one of three favorites out of six starters for Frankel, who is 0-for-36 in Breeders' Cup races.
Frankel's other favorites are Flute in the 11*8-mile Distaff and You in the 1 1-16-mile Juvenile Fillies.
Galileo, winner of six of seven starts in England, including the English and Irish derbies, is the second choice in the Classic, his debut on dirt.
"He likes a fast-run race that comes down to a grind rather than a slowly run race where they quicken at the end," said Aidan O'Brien, who trains Galileo for Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor. "He has a very high cruising speed. We're hoping for a good run if he handles the dirt."