Upsets, injuries and indecision. With nearly three weeks left until the Breeders' Cup, racing's $10 million day was like a horseplayer's checkbook -- a little mixed up and wide open.
Breeders' Cup officials expect the $3 million Classic, the highlight of the seven-race card Oct. 27 at Belmont Park, to draw one of the largest fields ever. No horse has dominated racing in 1990, leaving the horse-of-the-year chase open to all.
"If you look up and down the field and you think you can beat most of them and there are just a couple you're worried about, it's a lot easier," said trainer Billy Badgett, who said he might send the 3-year-old filly Go For Wand in the Classic.
Also on the program will be the $2 million Turf, and the Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, Distaff, Sprint and Mile, each offering $1 million purses. Only the race for 2-year-old fillies has the makings of a runaway with Meadow Star the best in the division.
A win in the 1 1/4-mile Classic is almost a prerequisite for winning horse of the year. Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled and Summer Squall, the Preakness winner who races Friday in the Meadowlands Cup, would need Classic wins to be considered for the title. So would Izvestia, the Canadian Triple Crown champion who was upset by Flying Continental in The Jockey Club Gold Cup Saturday.
Dispersal was the upset winner over Criminal Type in the Woodward, and he also could gain votes in the Classic. Criminal Type, who won four straight major stakes before his sixth-place Woodward finish, is sidelined for the rest of the year with an injured foreleg.
Only one female -- Triptych in 1986 -- has run in the Classic, and she finished sixth. That number could double this year with Go For Wand and Bayakoa, a 6-year-old mare.
Go For Wand won the 1 1/8-mile Beldame on Sunday at Belmont in 1:45 4/5, one-fifth of a second off the track record by Secretariat.
Bayakoa's stock went up after her three-length victory over arch rival Gorgeous in the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland Saturday. Bayakoa wasn't nominated for the Breeders' Cup, so it would cost $600,000 to supplement her to the Classic, $200,000 to the Distaff.
Also expected in the Classic are Belmont Stakes winner Go And Go, Travers winner Rhythm, and Home At Last, who upset stablemate Unbridled in the Super Derby.
The Turf could be one of the hottest races on a cool day at Belmont.
Cacoethes, a 4-year-old son of Alydar, had raced exclusively in Europe until winning the Turf Classic on Sunday at Belmont in a stakes-record 2:25 for the 1 1/2 miles.
His main opposition at 1 1/2 miles will come from an unlikely betting entry owned by Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall and center Wayne Gretzky: Golden Pheasant, winner of the Arlington Million, and the French-based Saumerez, who won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Sunday.
Injuries and upsets have scrambled the 2-yeard-old colt division. Deposit Ticket was the leading juvenile until he was beaten by Eastern Echo in the Futurity at Belmont on Sept. 15. Then, Eastern Echo was retired by an injury, and Deposit Ticket was a well-beaten last in Saturday's Champagne.
Fly So Free burst onto the scene by winning the Champagne, but the division leadership goes to Best Pal, winner of the Norfolk on Sunday at Santa Anita.
Of the 2-year-old fillies, one name has come solidly to the forefront -- Meadow Star. She won the Frizette on Saturday at Belmont by 14 lengths and is undefeated in her six starts.
The Sprint lost much of its luster when Housebuster was sidelined with cut-up legs. A lot could be put back into it if English-based Dayjur runs. A probable starter in the Sprint, Dayjur is called the fastest horse in the world by his European admirers, but he has never run on dirt. Champion Safely Kept and Dancing Spree, the 1989 winner, will give chase.