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June 26, 2017

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Game On Dude early favorite for US$5 million Classic

ARCADIA, California -- Game On Dude drew the fifth post and was installed as the early favorite Monday for Saturday's US$5 million Breeders' Classic, highlight of the US$25 million Breeders' Cup card.

The multiple grade one winner, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, was run down in the stretch of the Classic last year at Churchill Downs by 14-1 shot Drosselmeyer.

With Rafael Bejarano aboard, he'll try again to reach the winner's circle as the racing extravaganza returns to his home track of Santa Anita in suburban Los Angeles.

The 1 1/4-mile Classic on Santa Anita's dirt track caps the two-day, 15-race slate. The US$2 million, Ladies' Classic is Friday's highlight and was shaping up to be a thriller.

Defending champion Royal Delta drew the sixth post and was made the 9-5 early favorite. Challengers include unbeaten Awesome Feather, the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, and unbeaten My Miss Aurelia, last year's Juvenile Fillies winner

Five 2011 Breeders' Cup winners return, including Amazombie in the Sprint and Musical Romance in the Filly and Mare Sprint and the Aidan O'Brien-trained St. Nicholas Abbey in the 1 1/2-mile, US$3 million Turf.

St. Nicholas Abbey again arrives at the Breeders' Cup vying to rebound from Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe disappointment.

Once again he'll be ridden by O'Brien's son, Joseph O'Brien, who last year became the youngest jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race.

Excelebration, winner of back-to-back Group One races over a mile the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on October 20, drew the sixth post in the US$2 million Mile on turf.

Aidan O'Brien, who took over training duties this year after the horse was moved from Newmarket-based Italian Marco Botti, called Excelebration "an exceptional" horse.

Moonlight Cloud, trained by France's Freddie Head, drew the outside ninth post in the Mile, in which the nine-strong field includes top U.S. turf horse Wise Dan and 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

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