Game On Dude drew the fifth post and has been installed as the early favorite for Saturday's $5 million Breeders' Classic, highlight of the $25 million Breeders' Cup card.
The multiple grade one winner, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, was run down in the stretch of the Classic last year at Churchill Downs by 14-1 shot Drosselmeyer.
With Rafael Bejarano aboard, he'll try again to reach the winner's circle as the racing extravaganza returns to his home track of Santa Anita in suburban Los Angeles.
"He's looking good," Baffert said. "I think he's a better horse this year than last year. He's filled out. He seems more relaxed. He's a horse that's just getting better with age."
The 1 1/4-mile Classic on Santa Anita's dirt track caps the two-day, 15-race slate. The $2 million, Ladies' Classic is Friday's highlight and was shaping up to be a thriller.
This file photo shows Game On Dude gallopping over the track during morning workouts for the 2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs, last November, in Louisville, Kentucky. Game On Dude drew the fifth post and has been installed as the early favorite for Saturday's $5 million Breeders' Classic, highlight of the $25 million Breeders' Cup card.
Defending champion Royal Delta drew the sixth post and was made the 9-5 early favorite. Challengers include unbeaten Awesome Feather, the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, and unbeaten My Miss Aurelia, last year's Juvenile Fillies winner
Five 2011 Breeders' Cup winners return, including Amazombie in the Sprint and Musical Romance in the Filly and Mare Sprint and the Aidan O'Brien-trained St. Nicholas Abbey in the 1 1/2-mile, $3 million Turf.
St. Nicholas Abbey again arrives at the Breeders' Cup vying to rebound from Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe disappointment.
Once again he'll be ridden by O'Brien's son, Joseph O'Brien, who last year became the youngest jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race.
Excelebration, winner of back-to-back Group One races over a mile the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on October 20, drew the sixth post in the $2 million Mile on turf.
Game On Dude, multiple grade one winner, is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, pictured in May.
Aidan O'Brien, who took over training duties this year after the horse was moved from Newmarket-based Italian Marco Botti, called Excelebration "an exceptional" horse.
"He's getting quicker and stronger and has progressed very well," O'Brien said."
Moonlight Cloud, trained by France's Freddie Head, drew the outside ninth post in the Mile, in which the nine-strong field includes top US turf horse Wise Dan and 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.
Santa Anita officials reported that Ireland's O'Brien had confirmed his horses were on schedule to arrive at Los Angeles on Monday night, despite the travel disruptions on the US east coast because of Hurricane Sandy.
Officials said 10 New York-based horses were expected to travel on Wednesday -- later than would be ideal but in plenty of time for Friday and Saturday.
The first European trainer on the grounds was Jeremy Noseda, whose Fantastic Moon drew the fifth post for Saturday's $1 million, one-mile Juvenile Turf.
"I think this race will suit Fantastic Moon," Noseda said. "He was impeded in his last run in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket, but I liked the way he put his head down and ran on at the finish."
Also at the quarantine barn was Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, who saddles Artigiano in the Juvenile Turf.
"He seems to have traveled well," Al Zarooni said of the colt that will break from the second post with Frankie Dettori aboard. "He has some good form with the top 2-year-olds in England and I am hopeful he will run well on Saturday."