The 2013 Breeders' Cup doesn't get under way until Nov. 1, but the two-day spectacle is an epic horse racing showcase worth preparing for and breaking down ahead of time.
The action-packed schedule features 14 races with world-class fields and is capped off by the Breeders' Cup Classic, which features a $5 million purse. To put that in perspective, the prior three U.S. Triple Crown races combined for $4 million in prize money.
A list of pre-entries is already available through the series' official website, and it features Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice as the headliner of the list of 13 contenders.
Below is a look at the complete schedule for the 29th annual Breeders' Cup, followed by early predictions for win, place and show in the final, most lucrative race.
Breeders' Cup at a Glance
When: Friday, Nov. 1 through Saturday, Nov. 2
Where: Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|Complete 2013 Breeders' Cup Schedule|
|Races for Friday, Nov. 1||Post Time (EDT)||TV|
|Marathon Stakes (G2)||4:45 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Juvenile Turf||5:25 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Dirt Mile||6:05 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Juvenile Fillies Turf||6:50 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Distaff||7:35 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Races for Saturday, Nov. 2||Post Time (EDT)||TV|
|Juvenile Fillies||3:05 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Filly & Mare Turf||3:43 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Filly & Mare Sprint||4:21 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Geico Turf Sprint||5:05 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Juvenile||5:43 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Turf||6:22 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Xpressbet Sprint||7:01 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Mile||7:40 p.m.||NBC Sports|
|Source: BreedersCup.com. All races are Grade 1 unless noted otherwise.|
Breeders' Cup Classic Predictions
Win: Game On Dude
It says something that Mike Smith spurned the chance to ride Palace Malice again, despite guiding him to a win at the Belmont Stakes.
Instead, he has opted to turn to Game On Dude, who has not lost since being a 6-to-5 favorite in the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2012 but finishing a disappointing seventh.
Game On Dude won the San Antonio Stakes and the Santa Anita Handicap at this track earlier in the season and followed up with three more winning rides at Charles Town, Hollywood Park and Del Mar.
Legendary trainer Bob Baffert has come up empty often in the past decade at Triple Crown races, and he has never won the Breeders' Cup Classic. This is his chance to snap the dry spell, and Game On Dude will deliver as the favorite this time around.
A win by Game On Dude would be redemptive not only for the horse but also for the trainer, and it would justify Smith's switch to this talented horse.
Place: Palace Malice
The veteran jockey Smith did a magnificent job aboard Palace Malice at the grueling test at Belmont Park. He rode a horse traditionally considered to be more of a sprinter to victory in the 12-furlong jaunt.
The Classic is only 10 furlongs, and the races since that Triple Crown breakthrough have been stellar if not spectacular for Palace Malice. He won the subsequent Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes but was fourth in the Travers Stakes and runner-up in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes.
Smith wasn't in the saddle for those lesser results, but John Velazquez will get the mount in the Classic for trainer Todd Pletcher.
The Hall of Fame jockey has never won the Breeders' Cup Classic among his many career accomplishments, but Velazquez has to feel good about a proven Triple Crown race winner with Palace Malice's speed.
Still, it won't be enough to overcome the dirt track prowess of Game On Dude in what should be a thrilling chase down the last straightaway.
Show: Fort Larned
The edge in experience as the defending champion of this race will be enough for Fort Larned to finish in the money.
It will likely be a photo finish, as Fort Learned will just beat out 2012 runner-up Mucho Macho Man, who does have some momentum after winning his first Grade 1 race at Santa Anita on Sept. 28 at the Awesome Again Stakes.
But Fort Larned notched a victory of his own at the Homecoming Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs—site of the Kentucky Derby—on the same day as Mucho Macho Man's triumph.
That backed up a previous trip to the winners' circle at the same venue in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 15.
It proved that Fort Larned can still run with top-notch competition despite not competing in any Triple Crown races or the prestigious Woodward Stakes on Aug. 31, where he was scratched due to a strain.