ELMONT, N.Y. -- On the day horses were entered and post positions were drawn for the 12th Breeders' Cup, Cigar fanciers offered different points of view on the chances of the Maryland-bred superstar to excel in the $3 million Classic.
"I'm getting terrible vibes about this horse," said Don La Place, the former jockey who concocts the odds on races at Belmont Park, site of Saturday's race.
But then La Place installed Cigar as the 3-5 favorite even after the horse, winner of 11 consecutive races, drew the 10 gate in the 11-horse Classic field -- and will be forced to take the outside path to get to the first turn in the 1 1/4 -mile race.
Only one other horse has gone off at a shorter price in the Classic. That was Easy Goer, who finished second at 1-2 odds to Sunday Silence in 1989.
At dinner time last night, Simon Bray, assistant to the horse's trainer, Bill Mott, said Cigar "is doing fantastic" after the horse completed a five-furlong morning workout yesterday in the quick time of one minute.
Entry day for Breeders' Cup '95 offered a potpourri of developments.
Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr., who has ridden only one winner in Puerto Rico since he came out of retirement about a month ago, landed the mount on Classy Mirage in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
One Maryland-based horse, Da Hoss, booted another one, Goldminer's Dream, out of a start in the Sprint.
Goldminer's Dream was on the Eligibles List -- and just one horse away from drawing into the race -- when Michael Dickinson, trainer of Da Hoss, decided the turf course was too soft, and opted instead to run his colt in the Sprint.
That means Goldminer's Dream is likely to make his next start in a $60,000 stakes at Laurel Park -- the Challedon on Nov. 5 -- instead of in a $1 million one on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has won each of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies stakes three times, has the favorites in both of this year's races -- Honour And Glory in the Juvenile, which drew 13 colts, and Golden Attraction in the Juvenile Fillies.
Lukas' jockey, Gary Stevens, opted to ride Honour And Glory instead of Hennessy in the Juvenile, which prompted La Place to name Honour And Glory the favorite.
The Phipps family trainer, Shug McGaughey, also did some last-minute shifting and decided to race both of his fillies, Heavenly Prize and Inside Information, in the Distaff against Lukas' Serena's Song instead of in the Classic against Cigar.
"I think Cigar has gone to the well too often, but who's going to beat him?" La Place asked.
The horse's jockey, Jerry Bailey, said the 10 post "might work out OK."
"The speed is to the inside of us," he added, referring to three other Classic starters -- French Deputy on the rail, Star Standard in gate 5 and L'Carriere in post 8.
Co-second choices at 6-1 odds are European invader Halling, who races on Lasix for the first time, and Unaccounted For, who finished a close second to Cigar a couple of weeks ago in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and who La Place considers a superior wet track runner. That might be to the horse's advantage. Early forecasts are calling for rain.
La Place gives last year's Classic winner, Maryland-bred Concern, little chance to duplicate the feat. He installed him as a 20-1 long shot.
"He's just not the same horse he was last year," La Place said. "Even if they bet him down, the shortest price he's going to be is 12-1."
The horse ships from Pimlico to Belmont at midnight tomorrow and, despite La Place's assessment, has been turning in excellent works for the Classic. He will be ridden by Mike Smith.
Halling, who has won his last pair of starts on the turf in England, is the lone European entry in the Classic. His form on dirt is questionable, although he won three races on a sand track in Dubai last winter.
European runners are favored to win both Breeders' Cup turf races.
Ridgewood Pearl, is "the top filly in Europe," according to Geoffrey Gibbs, senior handicapper for the British Jockey Club, and deserves to be favored in the Mile.
"But for value, I like Harayir at 8-1 odds," Gibbs said. "She's a Classic winner and she won't mind this [soft] ground."
Freedom Cry, who was second in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris, is the 5-2 favorite in the Turf over Maryland-bred Awad.
Awad drew the rail, much to the dismay of trainer David Donk. The post doesn't suit the horse's late running style.
But Donk is not about to scratch the horse.
"There's 2 million reasons to run," he said, referring to the size of the purse.
12th Breeders' Cup
Where: Belmont Park, Elmont, N.Y.
Card: There are seven races worth a total of $10 million. The event was founded 12 years ago by horse breeder John Gaines as a fall championship series.
Feature: $3 million Breeders' Cup Classic, headed by Cigar, the Maryland-bred 5-year-old who is undefeated in nine races in 1995.
Other races: Juvenile Fillies, Sprint, Distaff, Mile, Juvenile Colts and Turf.
Post time: The post for the first race, the Juvenile Fillies, is 11:55 a.m. The last race, the Classic, goes off at 3:10 p.m.
TV: Channel 11, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Horse eligibility: To be eligible, horses must have been nominated to the series by the end of their yearling year. Supplementary, or late, entries are permitted at a cost of 12 percent of the total purse.