Human error, more than anything else, is what could get Cigar beat in the $3 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 28 at Belmont Park.
That was the opinion of trainer Bill Mott yesterday as he looked over the large and diverse field that jockey Jerry Bailey might have to thread his way through as he bids for his 12th consecutive victory.
"I also can't leave any room for carelessness," Mott said. "I have to get him over there."
A full field of 14 horses, plus one also-eligible, was pre-entered in the 1 1/4 -mile stakes. Among the entries are last year's Maryland-bred winner, Concern, who is stabled at Pimlico; three European runners, including Halling, winner of his last eight starts, and the Shug McGaughey-trained fillies Heavenly Prize and Inside Information.
But the horses Mott said he's most worried about are the 3-year-old Peaks and Valleys, winner of the Meadowlands Cup, and California invader Soul of the Matter.
"For some reason, I regard Peaks and Valleys as the biggest threat, as well as Soul of the Matter, who has proven quality and is fresh," Mott said. "They are two unknowns in good form."
Five of the last 10 Classic winners have been 3-year-olds, adding credence to Mott's concern about Peaks and Valleys.
"But Cigar is doing well," Mott said. "He's equally as good as when he won the Woodward [last month] and I still have that special feeling of confidence in him."
If he wins the Classic, Maryland-bred Cigar will vault to fourth place on the all-time list of money-winning horses and will break Sunday Silence's record of more than $4 million in earnings for one season.
McGaughey cross-entered both Heavenly Prize and Inside Information in the Distaff and said he's leaning toward running both of them in that race. "But I'm leaving the door wide open for the Classic," he said.
As usual, D. Wayne Lukas has more horses entered on the card than any other trainer. Of the 101 horses entered in the seven races, Lukas has nine, including two three-horse entries in the Juvenile Colts and Juvenile Fillies races; the 3-year-old filly Serena's Song in the Distaff, and Lord Carson and Boone's Mill in the Sprint.
Lord Carson and Boone's Mill are on the eligibles list and might not make the field. Both rank below Maryland-bred hopeful Goldminer's Dream.
Lukas' attack in the Juvenile Colts race consists of Hennessy, Honour and Glory and Editor's Note. The trio will be favored now that the likely choice, Maria's Mon, fractured an ankle and is outof the race.
Also, Benny Perkins Sr. entered Appealing Skier, the undefeated Laurel Futurity winner, in the Juvenile Colts.
Lukas' three entries in the Juvenile Fillies race are Golden Attraction, Cara Rafaela and Tipically Irish, who is not Breeders' Cup eligible and is being supplemented at a cost of $120,000.
Maryland Million winner Mystic Rhythms also is among the 10 horses in the fillies lineup.
There are 18 European horses, eight fewer than a year ago. "But what we're sending is quality, the best Europe has to offer," said Geoffrey Gibbs, senior handicapper for the British Jockey Club.
Juvenile fillies: Cara Rafaela, Classy 'n' Bold, Flat Fleet Feet, Gastronomical, Golden Attraction, La Rosa, My Flag, Mystic Rhythms, Ocean View, Tipically Irish.
Sprint: Classy Mirage, Da Hoss (2), Desert Stormer, Friendly Lover, Golden Gear, Hever Golf Rose (GB), Lake Coniston (IRE), Lit de Justice, Mr. Greeley, Not Surprising, Our Emblem, Poplar Bluff (GB) (2), Track Gal, You and I. Alternates: Owington, French Deputy (2), Goldminer's Dream, Lord Carson, Ft. Stockton, Demaloot Demashoot, Boone's Mill.
Distaff: Borodislew, Forested, Golden Klair (GB), Heavenly Prize (2), Inside Information (2), Jade Flush, Lakeway, Mariah's Storm, Serena's Song, Top Rung, Vinista.
Mile: Caress, Cherokee Rose (IRE), Da Hoss (1), Dove Hunt, Fastness (IRE), Fourstars Allstar, Harayir, Mighty Forum (GB), Ridgewood Pearl (GB), Savinio, Sayyedati (GB), Shaanxi, Soviet Line (IRE), The Vid. Alternates: Poplar Bluff (GB) (1), Earl of Barking (IRE), Ventiquattrofogli (IRE), Nicolotte (GB), Dumaani, Dowty, Johann Quatz (FR), Manilaman, Rare Reason, Wild Zone.
Juvenile: Appealing Skier, Blushing Jim, Diligence, Editor's Note, Exetera, Hennessy, Honour and Glory, Odyle, Sampras, Seacliff, Secreto de Estado, Unbridled's Song, Winter Quarters.
Turf: Alice Springs, Awad, Carnegie (IRE), Celtic Arms (FR) (1), Flitch, Freedom Cry (GB) (1), Halling (2), Hernando (FR), Lando (GER), Northern Spur (IRE), Rifapour (IRE), Signal Tap, Tamure (IRE), Turk Passer. Alternate: Talloires.
Classic: Celtic Arms (FR) (2), Cigar, Concern, Freedom Cry (GB) (2), French Deputy (1), Halling (1), Heavenly Prize (1), Inside Information (1), L'Carriere, Peaks and Valleys, Soul of the Matter, Star Standard, Tinners Way, Unaccounted For. Alternate: Jed Forest.