Packed weekend includes Breeders Cup

Halloween was Monday night, but trick or treating in the sports world kept on going all this week. On Tuesday, Penn State received a #12 ranking by the playoff selection committee, and on Wednesday night the Chicago Cubs broke its 108-year curse by winning the World Series. They trailed 3-1 and blew a 3-run lead in the 8th inning of Game 7 before winning in extra innings.

On Friday and Saturday, the horse racing world will treat us to the Breeders’ Cup races, which bring together many of the best horses across the globe, competing for over $28 million in prize money. NBC and NBCSN will televise these races from Santa Anita Park, the site of this year’s championships. 13 Breeders’ Cup races over the span of two days are on the schedule, beginning with four on Friday starting at 5 p.m. Two of Friday’s races are for juveniles (horses, age two) on the turf. The other two races feature outstanding fields, starting with the dirt mile that goes postward at 6:05 p.m. Run Happy, winner of last year’s BC Sprint (run at 3/4 of a mile), will take on the likes of Dortmund and Gun Runner, both of whom have distinguished themselves at longer racing distances of up to 1 1/4 miles. It will be intriguing to see how Run Happy does stretching out to the mile distance, while both Dortmund and Gun Runner shorten up.

Although watching all four races on Friday between 5-8 p.m. may be more than some casual fans can digest, the dirt mile and the BC Distaff (restricted to females) are two “must see” races. The Distaff is scheduled for 7:35. p.m. and features three returning Eclipse Champions: undefeated Songbird, with 11 wins; Stellar Wind, winner of 7 of 11; and 3x Eclipse Champion Beholder, with a lifetime record of 17 wins and six seconds in 25 career starts.

Saturday features nine more BC races, beginning at 3:05 p.m. with the BC juvenile fillies racing on the dirt. The BC juvenile is scheduled for 5:43 p.m., and will undoubtedly have many two-year-olds pointing toward next year’s Kentucky Derby, which is restricted to three-year-olds.

The penultimate race is the BC Classic, scheduled for 8:35 p.m. California Chrome, winner of the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, as well as the 2016 Dubai World Cup, will be favored to remain undefeated in 2016, having already won five races this year. Interestingly, his main opposition may be a three-year-old that did not compete in this year’s Triple Crown races. Arrogate, a later maturing youngster, was ultra impressive in winning the “Travers” at Saratoga at the end of August, setting a new track record in the process. Arrogate did not run his first race until April 17th, 2016, where he finished 3rd. He has since won four straight, culminating in his 13-length romp in the G1 Travers.

They are 10 horses entered in the Classic, 8 with G1 wins under their girths besides Arrogate and ‘Chrome. Included in that G1 winning group are Effinex, who finished 2nd in the 2015 BC Classic to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah; Frosted, Hoppertunity, Keen Ice, Melatonin, and Shaman Ghost.

With the Classic set to run at 8:35 p.m. on Saturday, Penn State TV football fans can change to NBC at either just before or during halftime of the 2nd ghostly white-out at Beaver Stadium to see if ‘Chrome can finish the year undefeated.