Breeders' Cup World Championships Newsletter - October 10, 2017
Advisory: This is the last-of-nine weekly news releases focusing on the horses and races leading to the 34th Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, November 3 and Saturday, November 4 at Del Mar. For more information, please visit www.breederscup.com. The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live on NBC and NBCSN. You can follow all the contenders’ activity leading up to the Breeders’ Cup with Equibase’s free "Road to the Breeders’ Cup Virtual Stable" notification service.
Gun Runner Vs. Baffert’s Imposing Trio Highlights Classic,Del Mar’s First Breeders’ Cup
With all but one of the one of the 81 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races run, all roads lead to Del Mar as the 34th Breeders Cup draws in November 3-4 for its inaugural running at the seaside track outside of San Diego. And while the two-day extravaganza will feature countless equine stars and soon-to-be champions in the 13 races that total more than $28 million in purses and awards, it’s the $6 million Classic that rightfully takes center stage, as divisional leader GUN RUNNER will look to cap off a Horse of the Year campaign when he takes on trainer Bob Baffert’s daunting trio of defending Classic winner ARROGATE, as well as the streaking COLLECTED and upstart 3-year-old WEST COAST.
• Pre-Entered fields for all 13 Breeders’ Cup World Championships races will be announced on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
• The Rood & Riddle Breeders’ Cup Post-Position Draw will be held on Monday, Oct. 30.
• The 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be covered live on NBC and NBCSN. Friday’s coverage will air from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN, while Saturday will be on NBCSN from 1:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET., with the Classic airing on NBC from 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. ET
Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Gun Runner has used a three-race winning streak to surge past Arrogate in the Horse of the Year race, but his lead is a tenuous one as the 1 ¼-mile Classic looms. The 4-year-old son of Sidney’s Candy (ARG) earned an automatic berth into the Classic when he won Churchill Downs’ “Win and You’re In” Stephen Foster (GI) in June, then followed that win with a win in Saratoga’s Whitney (GI), another Classic “Win and You’re In” in August, and will enter off a dominant 10 ¼-length victory in the Woodward (GI) Sept. 2. Gun Runner is 10-for-17 overall, but is 0-for-3 at 1 ¼ miles and 0-for-2 against Arrogate, which includes a second-place finish in the Dubai World Cup (GI) at Meydan in March. Asmussen has opted for the road less traveled approach, and is training Gun Runner up to the Classic, and has already shipped him to Santa Anita, where on Monday he worked five furlongs in 1:01.60.
Juddmonte Farm’s Arrogate has seen his aura of invincibility take a hit, as the defending Classic winner has lost two straight after rattling off a four-pack of Grade I wins, that started with a track record romp (over Gun Runner) in Saratoga’s Travers in August 2016, continued in the Classic at Santa Anita in November, Gulfstream Park’s inaugural Pegasus World Cup in January and culminated with his-last-to-first win in the Dubai World Cup in March. Little has gone right since for the 4-year-old son of 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Unbridled’s Song, as he was fourth at 1-20 in the San Diego (GII) at Del Mar in July and second there Aug. 19 to Collected in the TVG Pacific Classic (GI), another “Win and You’re In” for the Classic. Arrogate is 7-for-10 lifetime, but like Gun Runner, has his own hurdles to clear, as he’s 0-for-2 at Del Mar. And also like his rival, he’ll train up to the race at Santa Anita as well. On Tuesday, Arrogate worked five furlongs handily in 1:00.20.
Speedway Stable’s Collected wired Arrogate in the Pacific Classic to earn a berth into the Classic and himself would be Horse of the Year if he continues his run at Del Mar. The 4-year-old son of City Zip has come from nowhere this year for Baffert and is undefeated in four starts, with wins in Santa Anita’s Californian (GII) in April and Precisionist (GIII) in June. Collected is 8-for-11 lifetime and is continuing the building trend off training up to the Classic, and showed he hasn’t lost his form, going six furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:12.80 on Oct. 7.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s MUBTAAHIJ (IRE) added to Baffert’s imposing army when he earned a Classic berth with his win in Santa Anita’s “Win and You’re In” Awesome Again (GI) Sept. 30. The well-traveled 5-year-old son of Dubawi (IRE) has been with trainers Mike De Kock and Kiaran McLaughlin and to Dubai and back twice in his four years of racing, but peaked while earning his first grade I win in his first start for Baffert. Mubtaahij is 5-for-18 lifetime and seems a much better horse than the one who was a distant fourth behind Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup.
Baffert, who has won 14 Breeders’ Cup races, and is second to D. Wayne Lukas (20) in all time Breeders’ Cup wins by a trainer, will be shooting for his fourth consecutive Classic, having trained the last three winners with Bayern, American Pharoah and Arrogate. Lauren and Ralph Evans’ DIVERSIFY earned the last-of-seven automatic berths into the Classic when he won Saturday’s “Win and You’re In” Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI, see race recap below) at Belmont Park for trainer Rick Violette. The 4-year-old New York-bred son of Bellamy Road stepped up and into his first career graded stakes and wired a modest bunch, but is 7-for-10 lifetime and his speed figures to add to what already looked like a sharp pace, should he run in the Classic.
The 3-year-olds have been subpar all year and took turns beating up on each other through the Triple Crown season, but it’s Baffert again who holds the ace, as Gary and Mary West’s WEST COAST has emerged as a clear divisional leader off lopsided Grade I wins in Saratoga’s Travers in August and Parx Racing’s Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 23. The 3-year-old son of Flatter has clearly turned the corner in his last two wins and will put his 6-for-8 lifetime record on the line when he tests older horses for the first time in the Classic. Paul Reddam’s PAVEL was a close third in the Gold Cup and will also head to the Classic for trainer Doug O’Neill, as will Peacock Racing Stable’s deep closer GUNNEVERA, who was second in the Travers for trainer Antonio Sano, while the Andrew Rosen, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith could send their Kentucky-bred WAR DECREE, who won the 1 2½ mile Koffy Diamond Stakes (G3) on the all-weather surface at Dundalk on Sept. 29 from Europe to make his dirt debut for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Donegal Racing and Calumet Farm’s KEEN ICE, who was third in the Classic last year for trainer Todd Pletcher and was second in the Gold Cup, and the speedy multiple graded stakes winner MIDNIGHT STORM, second in the Awesome Again and third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile for trainer Phil D’Amato, are also pointing to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Gold Dream (JPN), who won the “Win and You’re In” February (GI) at Tokyo Racecourse in February, and Girvin, who won the “Win and You’re In” Haskell Invitational (GI) at Monmouth Park in July, also qualified for the race but will not be entered.
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