Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup - July 2, 2013

Advisory: This is the 1st of 16 weekly news releases focusing on the horses and races leading to the 30th Breeders' Cup World Championships on Friday, November 1 and Saturday, November 2 at Santa Anita. The Breeders' Cup will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group.

Path to the Breeders' Cup Classic Heats Up

The countdown to a wide open $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita picks up in earnest on the West Coast Saturday with the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (GI) at Betfair Hollywood Park. The Classic, the highlight of the 30th Breeders' Cup World Championship taking place Friday, November 1 and Saturday, November 2, will anchor the Saturday card and be televised live on NBC from 8-9pm, ET, which rates it as the only primetime Thoroughbred broadcast in the United States.

For the third year in a row, talk of the Classic — and the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup — centers on Bernie Schiappa, Diamond Pride, Lanni Family Trust and Mercedes Stable's GAME ON DUDE, the perennial West Coast handicap leader for trainer Bob Baffert. The 6-year-old son of 1998 Classic winner Awesome Again will run in the Gold Cup for the third straight year, having finished second in 2011 before winning the race last year. Game On Dude is also a Breeders' Cup veteran, as he ran second in the Classic at Churchill Downs in 2011 but disappointed as the favorite when he finished seventh at Santa Anita last year.

Game On Dude, a winner of 13-of-25 starts, has won all three of his starts this year, including a rousing 7 3/4-length win in the Santa Anita Handicap (GI) in March. The multiple Grade I winner will likely follow a similar path to the Classic as last year, with potential stops in the TVG Pacific Classic (GI) at Del Mar August 25 and Awesome Again (GI) September 28 at Santa Anita. Last year Game On Dude was second in the Pacific Classic before winning the Awesome Again. Both races are "Win and You're In" races for the Classic, with the winner guaranteed a starting berth at Santa Anita.

The East Coast contingent is led by Janis Whitham's homebred and defending Classic winner FORT LARNED, who has endured an up and down season but got untracked with an eye catching 6 1/4-length win in the "Win and You're In" Stephen Foster (GI) at Churchill in his last start June 15. The Ian Wilkes-trained 5-year-old son of E Dubai threw jockey Brian Hernandez in his seasonal debut in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII) in March then was 5th in the Oaklawn Handicap (GII) in April but flashed his Classic winning form at Churchill. Wilkes has indicated Fort Larned will follow a similar schedule as he did last year, which will include potential starts in Saratoga's Whitney (GI) August 3 and Belmont Park's Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) September 28. Fort Larned, a winner of 9-of-22 career starts, won the Whitney last year and finished 3rd in the Gold Cup. Like last year, both races are "Win and You're In" events for the Classic.

While Game On Dude and Fort Larned may be clubhouse leaders at this point in the season, there are plenty of Classic contenders looking to throw their hat into the ring. The most intriguing is Zayat Sable's PAYNTER, a Grade I winning 3-year-old who battled back from a severe case of colic last summer and won his return in a 7-furlong allowance race at Hollywood Park in devastating fashion June 14. The son of 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again was second in the Belmont last year and won the Haskell (GI) at Monmouth Park before going to the sidelines for Baffert but has his sights firmly on the Classic this fall. Paynter has won 4-of-7 seven lifetime starts and should be a major presence in the Classic Division in the second half of 2013.

Morton Fink's reigning Horse of the Year and defending Breeders' Cup Mile winner WISE DAN would rate a major player in the Classic should trainer Charles Lopresti call an audible and point to Santa Anita's main track. The 6-year-old homebred son of Wiseman's Ferry was a turf superstar last year, wining all four of his grass starts, including the "Win and You're In" Woodbine Mile (GI) and Shadwell Turf Mile (GI) at Keeneland before completing his season with a course record in his win at Santa Anita.

Wise Dan was also second in Churchill's Foster last year and won the Clark (GI) there in 2011, which could leave the door open for a potential Class start. The gelding has picked up right where he left off this year, with wins in Keeneland's Maker's 46 Mile (GI) and Churchill's Firecracker (GII) Saturday night (see race recap below) and may follow a similar path to Santa Anita this year. Wise Dan has won 16-of-23 career starts and has Lopresti looking towards Saratoga and a start in either the Whitney or the Fourstardave (GII) on the turf August 10, a race he won last year, with the Breeders' Cup the ultimate goal.

Wise Dan has won 10 of his last 11 starts dating back his win in the Fayette at Keeneland on October 29 of 2011, with last year's Foster as his lone defeat during this stretch.

"I'd really like to keep him undefeated and I'd like to win a Grade I on dirt with him this year," Lopresti said. "If we get a Grade I on dirt with him and then keep him going and get a few wins on the grass and then get to the Breeders' Cup, maybe he'll get Horse of the Year again."

Trainer Todd Pletcher holds a hot hand on the East Coast, with GoldMark Farm's freakishly fast CROSS TRAFFIC and Twin Creek Racing Stable's accomplished GRAYDAR. The former has yet to win a graded stakes but was beaten just a nose in Belmont's Met Mile (GI) in May and will make his next start in the Whitney, while the latter won the Donn (GI) at Gulfstream in February and the New Orleans Handicap (GII) at Fair Grounds in March, and is expected to rebound from an ankle chip in time to aim for the Classic.

Preston Stable's FLAT OUT and Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable, Jack Hammer and Gary Barber's RON THE GREEK give trainer Bill Mott a formidable 1-2 punch and both have Classic experience. The former, a 7-year-old son of Flatter, is a multiple Grade I winner who was fifth in the Classic in 2011 and third in the race last year while the latter, a 6-year-old son of Full Mandate, is also a multiple Grade I winner who was fourth in the Classic last year.

Though Game On Dude is the undisputed leader of the West Coast, Six-S Racing Stable and Nikolas Petralia's CLUBHOUSE RIDE has had a stellar year running second to that rival three times and got a long overdue stakes win in the Californian (GII) at Hollywood June 1. The 5-year-old son of Candy Ride (ARG) will test Game On Dude again in the Gold Cup for trainer Craig Lewis.

The 3-year-olds have a storied history of success in the Classic and this year's group is long on talent and versatility. While a divisional leader has yet to be established, Kentucky Derby winner ORB, Preakness winner OXBOW and Belmont winner PALICE MALACE all rate as viable Classic contenders and figure to tangle on more than one occasion this summer, with Saratoga's Travers (GI) August 24 looming as the pivotal showdown.

Phipps Stable and Stuart Janney's homebred Orb blitzed through the winter and early spring for trainer Shug McGaughey, winning the Fountain of Youth (GII) and Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream before rolling home to win the Derby. The son of Malibu Moon flattened out in the Preakness, running fourth, then came back to finish a late-closing third in the Belmont. Orb will likely take the Saratoga path this summer, with a potential start in the Jim Dandy (GII) August 27 preceding a Travers run.

Calumet Farm's Oxbow was a stalwart the entire Triple Crown season for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and saw his efforts pay off with a front-running score in the Preakness. The son of Awesome Again was sixth in the Derby and second in the Belmont and also won Fair Grounds' LeComte (GIII) in January. Oxbow could start next in the Haskell July 28 before reacquainting himself with his Triple Crown rivals in the Travers.

The Jim Dandy is also the next likely start for Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice, who tired badly in the Derby are setting a torrid early pace but rebounded with a game win in the Belmont for Pletcher. The son of 2007 Classic winner Curlin picked the right time to beat winners for the first time in the Belmont and will take the Jim Dandy-Travers path this summer.

While the three classic winners are the most accomplished of their generation, there are several candidates looking to step up in the second half of the season. Grade I winners VERRAZANO and GOLDENCENTS lead the list, while Grade I-placed runners NORMANDY INVASION, MYLUTE and GOLDEN SOUL also merit consideration.

Wise Dan Casts a Daunting Shadow Over the Mile, Europeans Add Intrigue

With Lopresti likely aiming Wise Dan to a defense of his Mile title, the list of potential challengers is understandably short. At the top of the heap is Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino's OBVIOUSLY, who was 3rd in the Mile last year and secured a berth in this year's renewal with a win in Saturday's "Win and You're In" Shoemaker Mile (GI, see race recap below) at Hollywood. Mike Mitchell trains the speedy 5-year-old son of Choisir (AUS), who has won 8-of-15 career starts.

The Europeans will take some sorting out this summer and fall but Godolphin's DAWN APPROACH (IRE) rates as the most accomplished of the potential Mile invaders. The 3-year-old son of New Approach (IRE) has won multiple Group I's and 8-of-9 nine starts for trainer Jim Bolger, including the 2000 Guineas (GI) at Newmarket and the St James's Palace (GI) at Royal Ascot in his last start June 18.

Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani's TORONADO (IRE) was beaten just a head by Dawn Approach in the St James's and is a Group II winner for trainer Richard Hannon and his stablemate HAVANA GOLD (IRE) won Saturday's Prix Jean Prat (GI, see race recap below) at Chantilly for Qatar Racing Limited. Either would warrant respect should they point towards Santa Anita, as would any number of talented prospects from Aidan O'Brien's high-powered barn, including Coolmore's Irish 2000 Guineas winner MAGICIAN (IRE).

Challenge Races Bookend the East Coast

Breeders' Cup berths will be on the line at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and Calder Race Course in South Florida when the United Nations (GI) and Smile Sprint Handicap (GII) are run.

The $500,00 U.N., run at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, will award an automatic starting berth into the November 2 Breeders' Cup Turf and figures to be led by Priscilla Vaccarezza's LITTLE MIKE, who won the Turf last year at Santa Anita for trainer Dale Romans. The 6-year-old son of Spanish Steps has won 12-of-23 career starts but was unplaced in a pair of Group I races in Dubai to start his season. Little Mike won a trio of Grade I's last year, including the "Win and You're In" Arlington Million at Arlington Park.

Calumet Farm's SKYRING should pose a stiff challenge for Lukas. The 4-year-old son of 2007 Turf winner English Channel has won 4-of-20 career starts and enters off his best lifetime win in Pimlico's Dixie (GII) May 18. Lael Stable and All In Stable's WILLCOX INN, a multiple graded stakes winner who was ninth in last year's Mile for trainer Mike Stidham and Resolute Group Stable's TEAKS NORTH, a multiple Grade I winner who won the U.N. last year and is now trained by Michelle Nevin, are also schedule to run.

The $350,000 Smile, run at six furlongs, will award an automatic starting berth into the November 2 Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint and figures to be led by Sherry Parbhoo's defending Breeders' Cup Sprint winner and Eclipse Award winning sprint champion TRINNIBERG for trainer Shivananda Parbhoo. The 4-year-old son of Teuflesberg has won 5-of-15 career starts, but like Little Mike, he's been unplaced in a pair of 2013 starts. Trinniberg didn't fire en route to an 11th-place finish in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (GI) in March and will try to rebound from a seventh-place finish in the Churchill Downs (GII) May 4.

Jacks or Better Farm's FORT LOUDON, who won the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (GIII) in February and Robert LaPenta's JACKSON BEND, a multiple Grade I winner, would rate a formidable duo for trainer Stanley Gold, as would Zayat Stable's JUSTIN PHILLIP, who won the Count Fleet (GIII) at Oaklawn in April for trainer Steve Asmussen.


News and Notes

11 Breeders' Cup Winners from 2012 Aiming For Repeat Runs

In a continuing trend, several 2012 Breeders' Cup Championship winners are in training and eyeing a return to Santa Anita. In addition to Fort Larned, Wise Dan, Little Mike and Trinniberg, Besilu Stable's ROYAL DELTA, who won her second straight Ladies' Classic on Breeders' Cup Friday last year, is also scheduled for a return visit to Santa Anita for trainer Bill Mott. The 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker is 10-for-18 lifetime and could point to either the Ladies' Classic or Classic, depending on how she fares this summer and fall.

The females are also represented by Fred Bradley, Carl Hurst, Brent Burns and trainer Buff Bradley's GROUPIE DOLL, who won the Filly & Mare Sprint and the Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter last year and Jungle Racing's MIZDIRECTION, who won the Turf Sprint last year for trainer Mike Puype.

Starlight Racing and Coolmore's SHANGHAI BOBBY, who won the Juvenile en route to an undefeated championship campaign for Pletcher, could also return this fall, as could Spendthrift Farm's BEHOLDER, who won the Juvenile Fillies en route to her divisional championship for trainer Richard Mandella.

Coolmore's GEORGE VANCOUVER, who won the Juvenile Turf for O'Brien and Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani's FLOTILLA (FR), who won the Juvenile Fillies Turf for trainer Mikel Delzangles also remain in training in Europe.

Breeders' Cup Increases Travel Awards, Lowers Entry Fees

In an effort to ensure the best possible fields for racing's championship event, the Breeders' Cup has offered to provide a travel allowance for any horse not based in California this fall, both foreign and domestic. Whereas in years past only the winners of Challenge races had their expenses paid, this year Breeders' Cup will pay shipping costs for horses based outside of Southern California entered for the Championships: Foreign-based connections will be given $40,000 in US funds while American-based runners will be given $10,000 in expenses.

Breeders' Cup also announced earlier this year that entry fees for all Championships races have been reduced from 3% to 2%.



A listing of the upcoming major stakes races this weekend:


July 4 - $150,000 Swaps at Betfair Hollywood Park
July 6 - $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at Betfair Hollywood Park
July 6 - $350,000 Suburban at Belmont Park
July 6 - $200,000 Dwyer at Belmont Park
July 7 - $1 million Queen's Plate at Woodbine


July 6 - $692,750 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park
July 6 - $500,000 United Nations at Monmouth Park
July 7 - $150,000 Singspiel at Woodbine


July 2 - $250,000 Dr. James Penny at Parx Racing
July 6 - $150,000 Royal Heroine at Betfair Hollywood Park
July 7 - $200,000 Dance Smartly at Woodbine


July 4 - $150,000 Poker at Belmont Park


July 4 - $100,000 Jersey Shore at Monmouth Park
July 6 - $350,000 Smile Sprint at Calder Race Course
July 6 - $150,000 Carry Back at Calder Race Course


July 6 - $350,000 Princess Rooney at Calder race Course
July 6 - $150,000 Azalea at Calder Race Course


July 6 - $150,000 Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park


July 5 - $200,000 Parx Sprint at Parx Racing
July 6 - $100,000 Arlington Sprint at Arlington Park
July 7 - $200,000 Highlander at Woodbine



A review of the major global races in the corresponding Breeders' Cup divisions from last week. Winning jockeys' names are in parenthesis in each recap. The top Breeders' Cup Points' leaders and Breeders' Cup Challenge winners by division are listed at the end of each section. Breeders' Cup Point earners are limited to horses who finish first, second or third in Graded Stakes races. Horses based outside of North America, who have not won a Breeders' Cup Challenge race, are selected into World Championships races by the Breeders' Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel at the Pre-Entry stage, Oct. 22. Juvenile standings will begin in September. An asterisk in the points section denotes a foreign contender. A complete Breeders' Cup Points list is available at:

Race: $300,000 Cornhusker (GIII), 3yos & up, 1 1/8 miles
Track: Prairie Meadows
Finishing order: 1 - PRAYER FOR RELIEF, 2 - TAPTOWNE, 3 - SILVER MAX
Margins: 1 3/4, 5 1/4, 1 3/4
Winning connections: Owner: Zayat Stable; Trainer: Steve Asmussen; Jockey: Ricardo Santana.
Time: 1:49.96 (fast)

Countdown to Breeders' Cup Classic - Zayat Stable's PRAYER FOR RELIEF (Ricardo Santana) finally returned to the winner's circle with a 1 3/4-length win over TAPTOWNE in the $300,000 Cornhusker (GIII) at Prairie Meadows. Steve Asmussen trained the winner, a 5-year-old son of Jump Start who won for the first time since taking the Super Derby (GII) at Louisiana Downs in 2011 when he was trained by Bob Baffert. Prayer For Relief, who is now 6-for-21 lifetime, was second in Lone Star Park's Texas Mile (GIII) and Lone Star Park Handicap (GIII) and will make his next start in Remington Park's Governor's Cup August 17. The Cornhusker was won last year by Fort Larned, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita in November. Video


Race: $250,000 Iowa Derby (GIII), 3yos, 1 1/16 miles
Track: Prairie Meadows
Margins: Neck, 1 1/4, 3/4
Winning connections: Owner: - Jim Tafel; Trainer: Carl Nafzger; Jockey: Leandro Goncalves.
Time: 1:44.29 (fast)

Countdown to the Breeders' Cup Classic - Jim Tafel's homebred LOOKING COOL (Leandro Goncalves) won a thrilling renewal of Prairie Meadows' $250,000 Iowa Derby (GIII) by a neck over BETWEENHEREANDCOOL. The 3-year-old son of Candy Ride (ARG) won his first career stakes for trainer Carl Nafzger and improved his lifetime mark to 3-for-10. Looking Cool rebounded from an eighth-place finish in Churchill Downs' Matt Winn (GIII) in his last start June 15 and could have a chance to prove his mettle in Saratoga's Jim Dandy (GII) in his next start July 27.


Race: $250,000 Iowa Oaks (GIII), 3yo fillies, 1 1/16 miles
Track: Prairie Meadows
Margins: 3 1/2, 1, 6
Winning connections: Owner: - Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, Paul Weitman; Trainer: Bob Baffert; Jockey: Martin Garcia.
Time: 1:44.65 (fast)

Countdown to the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic - Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, Paul Weitman's FIFTYSHADESOFHAY (Martin Garcia) confirmed her status as one of the nation's leading 3-year-old fillies with a resounding 3 1/2-length win over SEANEEN GIRL in Prairie Meadows' $200,000 Iowa Oaks (GIII). Bob Baffert trained the winner, a daughter of Pulpit who entered off a win in Pimlico's Black Eyed Susan (GII) May 17. Fiftyshadesofhay chased 2-year-old filly champion and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder twice this winter, finishing second in Santa Anita's Las Virgenes (GI) and third in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) before breaking through in Baltimore. Baffert indicated Fiftyshadesofhay, who has won 4-of-10 career starts, would run next in Saratoga Alabama (GI) August 17.


Race: $1,656,504 Irish Derby (GI), 3yos, 1 1/2 miles (turf)
Track: The Curragh
Margins: 1 3/4, 1 3/4, 1/2
Winning connections: Owner: Jackie Bolger; Trainer: Jim Bolger; Jockey: Kevin Manning.
Time: 2:27.17 (good)

Countdown to the Breeders' Cup Turf - Jackie Bolger's TRADING LEATHER (IRE, Kevin Manning) drew off late to win the Curragh's $1,656,504 Irish Derby by 1 3/4 lengths over GALILEO ROCK (IRE) for her husband and trainer Jim Bolger. The homebred 3-year-old son of Teofilo (IRE) won for the fourth time from eight career starts and added to a resume that already included a win in the Autumn (GIII) last year at Newmarket. Trading Leather upset trainer Aidan O'Brien's heavily favored RULER OF THE WORLD (IRE), who could do no better than fifth as an odds-on proposition. Bolger indicated Trading Leather could run next in Ascot's July 27 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (GI), a "Win and You're In" race for the November 2 Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita.


Race: $265,041 Pretty Polly (GI), fillies & mares, 1 1/4 miles (turf)
Track: The Curragh
Finishing order: 1 - AMBIVALENT (IRE), 2 - WAS (IRE), 3 - SHIROCCO STAR (GB)
Margins: 1/2, neck, 1/2
Winning connections: Owner: Ali Saeed; Trainer: Roger Varian; Jockey: Johnny Murtagh.
Time: 2:04.83 (good)

Countdown to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf - Ali Saeed's AMBIVALENT (IRE, Johnny Murtagh) led every step of the way en route to a half-length win over WAS (IRE) in the Curragh's $265,041 Pretty Polly (GI). Roger Varian trained the winner, a 4-year-old daughter of Authorized (IRE), who won for the fourth time from 10 career starts. Ambivalent entered winless in four group stakes tries but won at the highest level in the Pretty Polly, leaving Varian with several lucrative options the remainder of the year, including the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf November 1 at Santa Anita.


Race: $200,000 New York (GII), fillies & mares, 1 1/4 miles (turf)
Track: Belmont Park
Finishing order: 1 - STARFORMER, 2 - LADY OF SHAMROCK, 3 - DREAM PEACE (IRE)
Margins: 1 3/4, head, neck
Winning connections: Owner: Juddmonte Farm; Trainer: Bill Mott; Jockey: Edgar Prado.
Time: 2:00.33 (firm)

Countdown to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf - Juddmonte Farm's homebred STARFORMER (Edgar Prado) found her best form and upset Belmont Park's $200,000 New York (GII) with a 1 3/4-length win over LADY OF SHAMROCK. The 5-year-old daughter of Dynaformer had won a trio of Grade III stakes in her career for trainer Bill Mott but entered off a disappointing 8th-place finish over the course in the Sheepshead Bay (GII) May 25, when she folded badly in the soft going. Starformer returned to her winning ways in the New York and notched her second win of the year, to go with Gulfstream Park's Very One (GIII) in February. A winner of 6-of-17 career starts, she could surface next in Arlington Park's August 17 Beverly D. (GI), a "Win and You're In" race for the November 1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita. Video:


Race: $99,000 Eatontown (GIII), fillies & Mares, 1 1/16 miles (turf)
Track: Monmouth Park
Finishing order: 1 - LAUGHING (IRE), 2 - DAYATTHESPA, 3 - RUTHENIA
Margins: 3/4, 3/4, 4 3/4
Winning connections: Owner: Richard Santulli; Trainer: Alan Goldberg; Jockey: Angel Serpa.
Time: 1:39.26 (firm)

Countdown to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf - Richard Santulli's LAUGHING (IRE) (Angel Serpa) upset heavily favored DAYATTHESPA en route to a course record performance and three-quarter-length win in Monmouth Park's $99,000 Eatontown (GIII). Alan Goldberg trained the winner, a 5-year-old daughter of Dansili (GB) who stopped the timer in 1:39.26 while winning her second career graded stakes, to go with Monmouth's Matchmaker (GIII) last year. Laughing has now won 5-of-12 career starts and could resurface in Saratoga's Diana (GI) July 27, where she could have a rematch with Grade I winner Dayatthespa.


Race: $527,800 Prix Jean Prat (GI), 3yos & up, about 1-mile (turf)
Track: Chantilly
Finishing order: 1 - HAVANA GOLD (IRE), 2 - SAN MARINO GREY (FR), 3 - MONDIALISTE (IRE)
Margins: Neck, 1 1/2, head
Winning connections: Owner: Qatar Racing Limited; Trainer: Richard Hannon; Jockey: Mickael Barzalona.
Time: 1:37.01 (good)

Countdown to the Breeders' Cup Mile - Qatar Racing Limited's HAVANA GOLD (IRE, Mickael Barzalona) won a sterling renewal of Chantilly's $527,800 Prix Jean Prat (GI) by a neck over SAN MARINO GREY (FR). The 3-year-old son of Teofilo (IRE) returned to the winner's circle for the first time since taking the Somerville (GIII) at Newmarket in September and won for the fifth time in 10 career starts for trainer Richard Hannon. Havana Gold's win would make him a logical candidate for the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita November 2, though Hannon indicated he may try and stretch his colt out to 1 1/4 miles later this fall.


Race: $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (GI), 3yos & up, 1-mile (turf)
Track: Betfair Hollywood Park
Finishing order: 1 - OBVIOUSLY (IRE), 2 - ZA APPROVAL, 3 - WILKINSON
Margins: 3 1/4, 1 1/4, 1 3/4
Winning connections: Owner: Anthony Fanticola & Joseph Scardino; Trainer: Mike Mitchell; Jockey: Joe Talamo.
Time: 1:32.86 (firm)

Countdown to the Breeders' Cup Mile - Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino's OBVIOUSLY (IRE) (Joe Talamo) won an automatic berth into Santa Anita's November 2 Breeders' Cup Mile with a scintillating 3 1/4-length win over ZA APPROVAL in Betfair Hollywood Park's $300,000 Shoemaker Mile (GI). Mike Mitchell trained the winner, a 5-year-old son of Choisir (AUS) who set the pace before finishing 3rd to Horse Of the Year Wise Dan in last year's Mile at Santa Anita. Obviously has won a trio of Grade II's in his career, most recently in his last start in Hollywood's American May 25, but won at racing's highest level for the first time in the Shoemaker and is now 8-for-15 lifetime. He may run next in the $250,000 Del Mar Mile (GII) August 25. Obviously has Mitchell looking forward to a return Breeders' Cup engagement this fall. "The main goal is to run back in the Breeders' Cup Mile," Mitchell said. "I turned him out last year for no problems at all, just to freshen him. He's razor sharp right now. He's training so well and he looks so good. I think he's better than last year. He's stronger and a little bit more filled out." Video:


Race: $168,450 Firecracker (GII), 3yos & up, 1-mile (turf)
Track: Churchill Downs
Finishing order: 1 - WISE DAN, 2 - LEA, 3 - SERUNI
Margins: 2, 1/2, 6
Winning connections: Owner: Mort Fink; Trainer: Charles Lopresti; Jockey: John Velazquez.
Time: 1:39.82 (yielding)

Countdown to the Breeders' Cup Mile - Mort Fink's defending Breeders' Cup Mile winner and reigning Horse of the Year WISE DAN (John Velazquez) gave his backers some anxious moments before bravely sneaking through on the hedge in deep stretch to win Churchill Downs' $168,450 Firecracker (GII) by 2 lengths over LEA. Trained by Charles Lopresti, the 6-year-old son of Wiseman's Ferry won for the seventh straight time and improved his lifetime mark to 16-for-23. Wise Dan has been one of the most versatile horses to hit the track over the past decade, with graded stakes wins on dirt and synthetics but he's built his Hall of Fame resume the most on the turf, culminating in his Mile win at Santa Anita last year. Along the way he won Woodbine Mile (GI) and Shadwell Turf Mile (GI) at Keeneland, a pair of "Win and You're In" races for the Mile and started off his 2013 campaign with a win in Keeneland's Maker's 46 Mile (GI) in April. Wise Dan was last seen winning the Turf Classic (GI) at Churchill May 4 and could run next in Saratoga's August 3 Whitney (GI), a "Win and you're In" for the Breeders' Cup Classic or August 10 Fourstardave (GII), a race he won last year. Video:


Race: $250,750 Triple Bend (GI), 3yos & up, seven furlongs
Track: Betfair Hollywood Park
Margins: 3 1/2, 2 1/4, 1/2
Winning connections: Owner: Amerman Racing Stable, Bongo Racing Stable & Gary Finder; Trainer: Ron Ellis; Jockey: Victor Espinoza.
Time: 1:21.57 (fast)

Countdown to the Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint - Amerman Racing Stable, Bongo Racing Stable and Gary Finder's CENTRALINTELIGENCE (Victor Espinoza) picked the right time to win his first career graded stakes when he rallied late to annex Betfair Hollywood Park's Triple Bend (GI) by 3 1/2 lengths over COMMA TO THE TOP and earned an automatic starting berth into the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile November 2 at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old son of Smarty Jones, trained by Ron Ellis, had been beaten by Comma To The Top in his last two starts, including a second-place finish in the local Los Angeles (GIII) May 27 but turned the tables en route to his fourth win from 12 career starts. Ellis indicated Centralinteligence will be freshened up and return in the fall at Santa Anita, where he'll likely point for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, instead of the Dirt Mile. "We're going to skip Del Mar," Ellis said. "This year we're going to point for the (Breeders' Cup) Sprint. This was our test today to show if he was good enough to keep pace with some good sprinters." Heavily favored JIMMY CREED, who won the Malibu (GI) at Santa Anita last December, finished last-of-8 after throwing his left front shoe. Video:


Race: $147,000 Victory Ride (GII), 3yo fillies, six furlongs
Track: Belmont Park
Margins: 3/4, 2 1/4, 2
Winning connections: Owner: Paul Pompa; Trainer: Pat Reynolds; Jockey: Joel Rosario.
Time: 1:10.84 (fast)

Countdown to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint - Paul Pompa's BABY J (Joel Rosario) won her first career graded stakes with a three-quarter-length win over BRIDGEHAMPTON in Belmont Park's $147,000 Victory Ride (GIII). Pat Reynolds trained the winner, a 3-year-old daughter of J Be K, who showed only an optional claiming win at Belmont this year. Baby J, who was twice graded stakes placed in New York last year as a 2-year-old when trained by Rick Dutrow, won for the third time in seven career starts and may be freshened up for a try at Saratoga's Test (GI) August 24. Video:


Race: $111,400 Bashford Manor (GII), 2yos, six furlongs
Track: Churchill Downs
Margins: 2 3/4, 2 1/2, 4
Winning connections: Owner: Tim O'Donohue; Trainer: John Robb; Jockey: Eric Camacho.
Time: 1:10.66 (sloppy)

Countdown to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile - Tim O'Donohue's DEBIT CEILING (Eric Camacho) remained undefeated in three starts with an impressive 2 3/4-length win over HOLLYWOOD TALENT in Churchill Downs' $111,400 Bashford Manor (GIII). John Robb trained the winner, a 2-year-old son of Discreet Cat who entered off a win in Pimlico's Rollicking Stakes May 18. Debit Ceiling broke his maiden at Laurel in March and Robb said he is likely headed to Saratoga for their juvenile series, which culminates with the Hopeful (GI) September 2.

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