NEW YORK (October 2, 2014) - Top horses in their final prep races will take center stage this weekend in two outstanding “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series” programs from Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., featuring two-time defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile in a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile this Saturday, Oct. 4, at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, and the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, this Sunday, Oct. 5, at 5 p.m. on NBC.
The Shadwell Turf Mile and the Juddmonte Spinster are the 10th and 11th shows, respectively, to close out an outstanding inaugural season of “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In” telecasts leading up to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on NBC and NBCSN, October 31-November 1 from Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
Both programs on Saturday and Sunday will be hosted by Laffit Pincay III, who will be joined by analysts Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss, and reporters Nick Luck and Donna Brothers.
In addition to the Shadwell Turf Mile, Saturday’s show will also include live coverage of the $400,000 First Lady for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at one mile on the turf, and the $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity for 2-year-old colts and geldings run at 1 1/16 miles, a “Win and You’re In” to the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Sunday’s NBC broadcast of the Spinster Stakes will be supported with live coverage of the $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Dubbed “Fall Stars Weekend,” the opening of Keeneland in the fall and Morton Fink’s Wise Dan have gone hand-in-hand the past three years, though he’ll look to avenge a rare defeat when he starts as an imposing favorite in the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile. Now a 7-year-old, Wise Dan, a two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner for trainer Charlie LoPresti, added to his legacy when he returned from colic surgery in May to win Saratoga’s Bernard Baruch on August 30. Wise Dan won his first two starts of the year in Keeneland’s Maker’s 46 Mile in April and Churchill Downs’ Turf Classic in May before going to the sidelines, and he’ll look to kick start another championship run in the Shadwell.
Wise Dan’s resume is as impressive as his longevity, as his career record sits at a remarkable 22-for-30, with over $6.9 million in earnings, 10 career grade I wins, and 13 consecutive turf wins to go with six Eclipse awards.
Though Wise Dan is clearly the horse to beat in the Shadwell, he’ll again meet Juddmonte Farm’s Seek Again, who lost the Turf Classic by a scant head. The 4-year-old son of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Speightstown scored his first win of the year in Saratoga’s Fourstardave on August 9 for trainer Bill Mott and may have found his calling at a mile on the turf. Formerly trained in Europe by John Gosden, Seek Again brings a 5-for-11 career record to the Shadwell, which includes a win in his U.S. debut in December’s Hollywood Derby (GI) at Hollywood Park.
Dana Wells and Mark Bacon’s Silver Max, trained by Dale Romans, was the last horse to defeat Wise Dan, and pulled the upset going wire-to wire in the in the 2013 Shadwell when the race was switched from the turf to Polytrack because of heavy rains. The 5-year-old son of Badge Of Silver, who was fourth to Wise Dan in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, won his seasonal debut in Churchill’s Firecracker in June but will have to rebound from a disappointing and well-beaten last-of-6 in the Fourstardave.
Saturday’s co-feature is the $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity will take on added significance this year as it will be run at two turns over conventional dirt after the Polytrack surface was removed this summer. Run at 1 1/16 miles, the Breeders’ Futurity will be led by WinStar Farm’s Carpe Diem, a $1.6 million 2-year-old in training purchase who won his only start thus far in a five and a half furlong race at Saratoga on September 1 for trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Giant’s Causeway set a fast and pressured pace before drawing away and looms the one to catch.
Ackerley Brothers Farm’s Bold Conquest and Bourbon Lane Stable’s Hashtag Bourbon, the second and third-place finishers of Churchill Downs’ “Win and You’re In” Iroquois Stakes on September 6, will warrant respect as they have already started at two turns on the main track. The former, a son of 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Curlin, is 1-for-3 lifetime for trainer Steve Asmussen while the latter, a son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, won the Mountaineer Juvenile in August for trainer Kellyn Gorder and is also 1-for-3 lifetime.
Godolphin Racing’s Better Lucky will attempt to become the first repeat winner of Keeneland’s $400,000 First Lady (G1) on Saturday when she faces eight rivals in the 17th running of the one-mile grass test.
Clothes Hatches Headlines Spinster
Juddmonte Farm’s Close Hatches, trained by Bill Mott, looks to carry the banner for her owner when she starts as an imposing favorite in Sunday’s $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster. Run at 1 1/8 miles, Close Hatches, a 4-year-old daughter of First Defence, rates as the leading older female in the country off her 4-for-4 record this season, which includes a pair of “Win and You’re In” grade I’s in her last two starts; Belmont’s Ogden Phipps in June and Saratoga’s Personal Ensign on August 22. Close Hatches, who was second in last year’s Distaff at Santa Anita, opened her season with a win in Oaklawn Park’s Azeri in March and won the Apple Blossom a month later, and is 9-for-12 lifetime.
Jerry Namy and trainer Phil Sims’ Don’t Tell Sophia, who was third in the Apple Blossom and will enter off a win in Churchill Downs’ Locust Grove on September 6 and Bill Cubbedge’s Molly Morgan, who won Ellis Park’s Gardenia in August and was second in the Locust Grove for Dale Romans, are the contenders.
Sunday’s co-feature, the $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon, at1 1/16-miles on the turf, looks wide open, with Ol Memorial Stable’s Croninthebarbarian looming as a key contender for trainer Garry Simms. The 2-year-old son of Stroll is 2-for-3 lifetime, but is perfect in two turf starts, including a rousing win in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile on September 6. Klaravich Stable’s and Bill Lawrence’s Can’t Happen Here, who won his only start at Saratoga on August 16 for trainer Chad Brown; Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Chief Kitten, who broke his maiden impressively at Belmont Park in his second career start on September 14 for Brown; Donegal Racing’s, Danny Boy, an Ellis Park turf winner in his debut who was fourth in Churchill’s “Win and You’re In” Iroquois on September 6 for Romans, are also to be considered.
“Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In” on NBC Sports Live Extra
NBC Sports Live Extra —NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets — will stream this Saturday’s “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In” coverage of the Shadwell Turf Mile and Sunday’s “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In” coverage, including the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes.
For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play and on Windows 8 and Windows mobile devices.
The complete “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series Win and You’re In” television schedule may be found at the following link: http://challenge.breederscup.com/schedule
NBC SPORTS GROUP AND HORSE RACING: NBC Sports Group is the exclusive home to the most important and prestigious events in horse racing, including the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001, and the Belmont Stakes since 2011, when the NBC Sports Group reassembled the Triple Crown.
The 2014 Belmont Stakes on NBC, featuring California Chrome’s Triple Crown attempt, averaged 20.4 million viewers – the second-highest Belmont Stakes viewership on record, trailing only the 21.9 million viewers for NBC’s telecast of Smarty Jones’ Triple Crown attempt in 2004 (People Meter viewership dates to 1988). In addition, the 2014 Kentucky Derby marked the fourth time in six years (2009, 2010, 2013, 2014) that NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage averaged more than 15 million viewers, and the 2014 Preakness Stakes registered a 6.0 household rating, ranking as the highest-rated Preakness Stakes since 2009 (6.8 for Rachel Alexandra’s victory).