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Jan 04, 2013

Up the Backstretch: The biggest names of 2013

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

(Sports Network) - Here we are at the beginning of 2013, so let's take a quick look at the biggest names in thoroughbred racing for the upcoming year.

Leading the way among the returning thoroughbreds is Wise Dan, winner of the 2013 Breeders' Cup Mile. The gelding, trained by Charles Lopresti, demonstrated his unquestioned prowess on the turf at eight-furlongs. As a six- year-old, Wise Dan should be able to continue his high level of effort with a chance of winning s second Mile at Santa Anita.

Another six-year-old gelding to look at is Game On Dude. Trained by Bob Baffert, Game On Dude is still looking for his first Breeders' Cup Classic victory. The gelding was second in 2011 behind Drosselmeyer and in 2012 failed as the favorite. Game On Dude has shown to be the best main track runner in North America and we expect him to move forward in 2013.

Two-time Ladies' Classic champ Royal Delta enters her 5-year-old season the unquestioned "Queen of Horse Racing." Trained by Bill Mott, Royal Delta barely won the Delaware Handicap, but won the Beldame Stakes by almost 10- lengths. The only question is whether Royal Delta will take on males like prior distaff runners Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta and Havre de Grace.

Early Kentucky Derby favorite Shanghai Bobby, trained by Todd Pletcher, will begin his 3-year-old campaign at Gulfstream Park mostly likely in the Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 26. The colt won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile by a head over He's Had Enough.

Trainer Dale Romans is bringing back most of his top runners from 2012. Expected to see action in 2013 are Pacific Classic winner Dullahan and Breeders' Cup Turf champ Little Mike.

Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned will return for his 5-year-old season. The horse is trained by Ian Wilkes and won the Whitney Handicap in 2012.

Mucho Macho Man, trained by Kathy Ritvo, will continued to race in the new year. As a 4-year-old he was second to Fort Larned in the Classic and is set for a run at Horse of the Year in 2013.

"He likes to train. He's a horse that's happiest when he trains," Ritvo noted.

Another Breeders' Cup champion coming back to race is Filly & Mare Sprint winner Groupie Doll. Trained by co-owner Buff Bradley, Groupie Doll finished second to Stay Thirsty in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 24.

"It was another great race. I don't regret taking her up there," Bradley said. "She showed everyone then that she's one of the greatest."

These are just some of the top thoroughbreds who will race in 2013. If all remain healthy, and we hope they do, the year should a great one for racing.

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