2018 Breeders' Cup Challenge Series Begins Saturday In South Africa With L'ormarins Queen's Plate and Cartier Paddock Stakes
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (January 5, 2018) – Led by South Africa’s two-time horse of the year Legal Eagle (SAF), a field of 12 horses has been entered for Saturday’s one mile R1.5 million L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (G1) at Kenilworth Racecourse in Cape Town for an automatic berth into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). The 1 1/8 mile R1 million Cartier Paddock Stakes (G1) for a free starting position into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), precedes the Queen’s Plate. Both stakes open the 2018 international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
Now in its 12th season, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held this year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on November 2-3. As a part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the pre-entry and entry fees for the winners of Saturday’s races, and will also provide a US$40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of Oct. 22 to receive the rewards.
Mayfair Speculator’s 6-year-old gelding Legal Eagle, the two-time defending champion, is the heavy favorite in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate for 3-year-olds and up. Legal Eagle, 10 for 20 lifetime, will start from post position 2. Trained by Sean Tarry and ridden by Anton Marcus, Legal Eagle is a perfect 7 for 7 at the one-mile distance, and comes into this year’s race off a half-length victory in the seven-furlong Green Point Stakes at Kenilworth on December 12. “Everything has gone smoothly,” said Tarry to SAHorseracing.com. “He has had a perfect prep and you don’t have to debate about the draw or the jockey. “I can give you the thumbs up!”
Among the contenders facing Legal Eagle, is the Brett Crawford-trained Captain America (SAF), who was has been chasing Legal Eagle for the past year. A 7-year-old gelding by Captain Al (SAF), Captain America finished second to Legal Eagle in last year’s Queen’s Plate by 2 ½ lengths and finished just a half-length behind the Queen’s Plate favorite in the Greenpoint. Ridden from post 9 by Corne Offer, Captain America’s biggest win came last October when he won the Rising Sun Challenge (G1) at Greyville.
Crawford has also entered Sail South (SAF), ridden by Greg Cheyne, from post 8. Third to Legal Eagle in last year’s Queen’s Plate, Sail South, an 8-year-old bay gelding by Sail from Seattle (SAF), defeated Captain America in last July’s 1 1/8-mile World Sports Betting Champions Cup (G1) at Greyville. The 5-year-old gelding Marinaresco, trained by Candice Bass-Robinson, will be looking to improve of his fifth-place performance last time out in the 5 ½ furlong Cape Merchants Stakes at Kenilworth on December 2. The bay son of Silvano won last July’s Vodacom Durban July at Greyville at about 1 ¼ miles. Manaresco, fourth in last year’s Queen’s Plate, will start from post 4 under Aldo Domeyer.
In the Cartier Paddock Stakes, Mauritzfontein’s 5-year-old chestnut mare Nother Russia (SAF) is slated to be one of the favorites against the formidable Nightingale (SAF) at 1 1/8 miles. A winner of her last two starts, Nother Russia, trained by Mike De Kock, will be making her first start since a victory by head in the Gauteng Ipi Tombe at about a mile at Turffontein on November 26. She will be shooting for her eighth career win. Craig Zacky will ride the daughter of Tiger Ridge, breaking from post 10 in the 16 field of fillies and mares.
The 5-year-old mare Nightingale (SAF), also owned by Mauritzfontein, was third to Star Express (SAF) in her last start, the 1 1/8-mile Sunshine Sweepstake Victress Stakes at Kenilworth on December 16 for trainer Candice Bass-Robinson. The bay daughter to Silvano (GER), seeking her fifth career win, will start from post 2 under Anthony Delpech.
Star Express broke an eight-race losing streak with her win in the Sunshine Sweepstake for trainer Justin Snaith. The 5-year-old chestnut mare, also by Silvano, will be ridden by Callan Murray from post 15.
Sean Tarry and Anton Marcus (post 7) will team up with Safe Harbour (SAF) in the Paddock Stakes. The 4-year-old filly by Elusive Fort (SAF), was sixth last time out on November 22 in a conditioned plate at about one mile. “She had to be scratched from the Victress Stakes with a foot abscess but she’s over it. She had a good gallop at the course and she’s well enough,” said Tarry to the SAHorseracing.com. “She’s done very little wrong but this is a tough field.”
About Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 13 Grade I races with purses and awards totaling more than $28 million, will be held November 2-3 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup Web site, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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