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Breeders’ Cup comes back to Belmont after six-year hiatus

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For the first time in six years, the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships is back at Belmont Park. The 18th running of the championships, consisting of eight grade I races with purses totaling $13 million, will be run Saturday with gates opening at 9 a m. and the first race starting at 12:05 p.m.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Breeders’ Cup Limited and New York Racing Association are dedicating this year’s races to the families of New York City firefighters, police officers, emergency services personnel and other victims in the Sept. 11 tragedy. A special fund of NTRA Charities has been established to receive contributions.

This is the fourth time the Breeders’ Cup has been run locally. Belmont Park hosted the event in 1990 and 1995 and Aqueduct Racetrack was the site in 1985.

The finale of the day’s 10 races is the 1-1/4 mile Breeders’ Cup Classic, with a post time of 5:30 p.m. American-bred Aptitude, owned by Edmund Gann and trained by Bobby Frankel, will face a strong European challenge in the $4 million race from the likes of Galileo and Fantastic Light.

Irish-bred Galileo is owned by Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor and trained by Aidan O’Brien. The three-year-old has been Europe’s hottest horse this year, winning six of seven career starts, including the English and Irish Derbies and the King George VI and Queens Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.

Galileo’s lone loss came to four-year-old Fantastic Light in a memorable stretch drive at the Irish Champion Stakes. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin Racing, Fantastic Light has won three stakes races this year.

Defending Horse of the Year and the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow is also scheduled to race in the Classic. The four-year-old colt, trained by Jay Robbins, has two third-place finishes in the Woodward and Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap in his last two starts.

The first Breeders’ Cup race is the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles. Post time is 1:20 p.m.

Following the Distaff, fans will get a glimpse of some of next year’s Triple Crown contenders in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1:55 p.m.

Last year Bob Baffert-trained Point Given, the eventual Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner, lost the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by a nose to Macho Uno. This year, Baffert has another contender in undefeated Officer. Another contender and no doubt the winner for best name is You, another horse owned by Gann and trained by Frankel. The local favorite won the Frizette Stakes with a 6 3/4-length win at Belmont earlier in the season.

The other Breeders’ Cup races are the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Mile, the $1 million Penske Auto Center Breeders’ Cup Sprint, the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the $1 million Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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