By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Game On Dude has been installed as the early 8-5 favourite and will break from the ninth post for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.
The Bob Baffert-trained gelding came desperately close to winning the race in 2011 before being run down by Drosselmeyer in the shadows of the post at Churchill Downs and had to settle for second place.
Last year at Santa Anita, Game On Dude ended up a disappointing seventh out of 12 after going into North America's richest horse race as the 6-5 favourite.
In other Breeders' Cup positions determined on Monday, Royal Delta will try to win a third consecutive title in the $2 million Distaff, breaking from the four hole as the morning line 8-5 favourite.
However, Royal Delta will face a strong challenge from the Todd Pletcher-trained filly Princess of Sylmar, a 9-5 choice who has won six of seven starts this year, and her last four in a row.
In the $3 million Turf, English raider The Fugue will break from the seventh spot as the 3-1 choice, with last year's runner-up Point of Entry the second choice at 4-1.
The Breeders' Cup, a 14-race event worth a total of more than $25 million, will be run on Friday and Saturday and hosted by Santa Anita for the seventh time. There are five races on Friday and nine on Saturday.
Wise Dan, who started 2013 with five straight wins, is the even money favourite in the Mile at 1-1 and the six-year-old will be bidding to defend the title he clinched 12 months ago with a course record at Santa Anita.
John Velazquez will be in the saddle for the $2 million race and will open from the eight hole in the 10-horse field.
As always, though, the most anticipated race over the two days at Santa Anita will be the concluding Classic where a high-quality field of 12 runners will compete for glory.
A son of 1998 Classic winner Awesome Again, Game On Dude is unbeaten this year and has won all five of his starts in dominant, front-running fashion.
"He's a totally different horse this year," Hall of Famer Baffert told reporters on Monday. "He's not the same horse that ran here last year.
"He's bigger, he's filled out and he's a happy horse. I've spaced his races out and that's allowed me to keep his weight on."
Mucho Macho Man, runner-up in the showpiece race last year, is the second choice at 5-1 with Fort Larned, who won the 2012 Classic as a 9-1 shot after a storming run down the stretch, at 6-1. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)
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