Bob Ehalt and Tom Pedulla became fast friends when they met on their first day at Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx, N.Y., in 1970. Bob introduced Tom to Thoroughbred racing soon after that.
They have had their rough moments at the track, with Tom taking exception when Bob repeatedly smacks him on the back with a program as one of their horses launches an all-out stretch drive. Much to Tom’s chagrin and the amusement of onlookers, Bob has been known to call for security as they cashed a $27 triple. They have owned a number of slow horses together and can often be seen carrying on at the track as if they never left their teenage years.
Here is their take on the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic:
PEDULLA: Bob, part of me would love to be daring and pick against Flightline. I simply cannot do that. His TVG Pacific Classic tour de force, one of the finest performances we’ve ever seen, erased any questions about his ability to handle distance. The only real question surrounding this Classic involves the winning margin.
EHALT: Well, Thomas, first of all, congratulations on your career excellence award from the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. It’s very much deserved. Now you need to win a handicapping award! I can’t argue with picking Flightline. He’s the best horse. He will be facing his toughest test and he won’t win by 19 1/4 lengths like he did in the Pacific Classic, but he’ll win.
PEDULLA: I say Taiba, an up-and-coming 3-year-old who will be a force at 4, is second best. His Pennsylvania Derby was impressive. He is lightly raced with a high ceiling. We are just starting to see what he can do.
EHALT: In my mind, Life Is Good is the second-best horse in the field and this race will come down to a stretch duel between him and Flightline. I’m not fazed by a lackluster win in the Woodward Stakes. That was a paid workout. He’ll be back in top form here and will turn in a huge effort, giving us a memorable duel for the ages.
PEDULLA: Hot Rod “gotta be the shoes” Charlie always gets his piece of the pie, and he will not be denied this time. The Dubai World Cup runner-up has been preparing at Keeneland for the longest for trainer Doug O’Neill. Expect him to run big.
EHALT: Much like Gun Runner, Epicenter is getting better with seasoning for all-time winningest trainer Steve Asmussen. He was the top 3-year-old coming into the race and he’ll exit it that way with a highly respectable effort.
PEDULLA: Bob, you may be wondering at this point why I am dismissing Life Is Good. I have tremendous respect for him, how sharply he breaks and the high cruising speed he possesses. I expect him to be under intense pressure here, the kind of pressure that causes even exceptional horses to fold. And I suspect we both can agree that a mile and a quarter is clearly not his best distance.
EHALT: I would not overlook Bob Baffert in a big spot like this. Taiba looked great in winning the Pennsylvania Derby and he can make his presence felt here. Can he beat Flightline? I don’t think so. But like everyone else, I can’t wait to see what should be a classic Classic.