A horse no one believed would even enter the Breeders' Cup received top billing Wednesday when post positions were drawn and odds released for the richest day in racing history.
On Saturday at Hollywood Park, Skip Away will break from post No. 1 as the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the 1\-mile Breeders' Cup Classic.
Owned by Carolyn Hine and trained by her husband, Sonny, Skip Away will run for the richest purse ever offered in horse racing. The Classic is worth $4.4-million. (That extra $400,000 comes from the $480,000 the Hines paid to supplement Skip Away to the race. Skip Away was not nominated as a foal to the Breeders' Cup.)
Including other supplemental payments, the checks dispersed Saturday in the seven Breeders' Cup races will total a record $11.71-million.
Asked whether he thought Skip Away, who has slugged through a tough 10-race campaign this year, had a chance, Hine said: "I put up $480,000. I think he's got a pretty good chance."
The Hines decided to enter Skip Away, last year's 3-year-old champion, after his overpowering victory Oct. 18 in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. They said that if he had any chance of becoming Horse of the Year, he would have to win the Classic.
According to the morning line, Skip Away's sternest challenges will come from 5-2 Touch Gold in post No. 5, 4-1 Deputy Commander in post No. 3 and 4-1 Behrens in post No. 8.
Asked about Skip Away's starting spot along the rail, Hine said: "I think it's great. If the horse runs his race, he'll be right up there with the pace."
Trainer Robert Byrne couldn't have been happier when 9-5 Countess Diana drew the No. 8 in the $1.03-million Juvenile Fillies, 3-1 Richter Scale the No. 10 in the $1.18-million Sprint, and 7-5 Favorite Trick the No. 3 spot in the $1-million Juvenile.
"I keep pinching myself," Byrne said.
BLACK CASH OUT: The Juvenile, already assured of having the smallest field in its 14 runnings, was reduced to eight with the scratch of Canadian contender Black Cash.
Black Cash had a muscle spasm in his right hind leg that scuttled a scheduled workout.
Kent Desormeaux lost his second mount. He was scheduled to ride Black Cash and Formal Gold, who was injured last week.
_ TIMES WIRES