Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Newsletter - August 21
Advisory: This is the first of nine weekly news releases focusing on the horses and races leading to the 36th Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, November 1 and Saturday, November 2 at Santa Anita. 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.
Wide Open Travers, Three Challenge Races Highlight a Must-See Saratoga Saturday
Saratoga’s elongated summer meet reaches its zenith Saturday when the historic $1.25 million Travers (G1) highlights a card that also features three grade 1 “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup challenge races and seven stakes overall. The defection of divisional leaders Maximum Security and Game Winner leaves the Travers a wide-open contest, but their absence could be just what TACITUS, the 5-2 morning line favorite, needs to score a long overdue breakthrough at racing’s highest level, as he looks like the horse to beat in the field of 12. The Travers has long been the defining race of the Saratoga meet, though the Sword Dancer, (which will offer an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf), Personal Ensign (Longines Distaff), and Ballerina (Filly & Mare Sprint) all rate as grade 1 automatic qualifiers for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita and figure to lure all-star fields.
The 1 ¼-mile Travers been circled on trainer Bill Mott’s calendar for months for Juddmonte Farm’s homebred Tacitus, who would have attracted plenty of support even if Maximum Security and Game Winner were entered and now figures as a stiff favorite. The son of Tapit won the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct this winter before running fourth (placed third) in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Belmont. Tacitus, who is 3-for-7 lifetime, enters off a troubled second-place finish in the local Jim Dandy (G2) July 27, as he stumbled badly at the start before rallying late.
Will Farish’s homebred CODE OF HONOR (4-1) looked like the Derby winner when he snuck through on the inside and put a nose in front on the far turn before flattening out and finishing third (placed second). The son of Noble Mission (GB) won Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth (G2) in March for trainer Shug McGaughey and got back to his winning ways in Belmont Park’s Dwyer (G3) July 6. Code of Honor is 3-for-7 lifetime and, like Tacitus, figures to be rolling late through the stretch.
Three-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Chad Brown will look to win his first Travers with a lightly raced duo in Farish’s homebred HIGHEST HONORS (10-1) and Madaket Stable, Long Lake Stable, Doheny Racing Stable, and Thomas Coleman’s LOOKING AT BIKINIS (15-1), who were first and third, respectively, in the local Curlin July 26. The former, a son of Tapit, closed nicely in his stakes debut and pulled away late to make it 2-for-3 lifetime, while the latter, a son of Lookin At Lucky, set the pace on a tiring rail and was third as the favorite, in what was his first loss in three starts.
Trainer Bob Baffert decided at the last minute to run Michael Lund Peterson’s MUCHO GUSTO (6-1), and the son of 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man will attract plenty of support, as he enters off a fine second to Maximum Security in the Monmouth Park’s July 20 TVG Haskell (G1), which is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Mucho Gusto is a four-time grade 3 winner, including the Affirmed at Santa Anita in June, and is 5-for-8 lifetime.
TAX (6-1), who was second in the Wood and a close fourth in the Belmont, turned the tables on Tacitus in the Jim Dandy and rates a major contender for trainer Danny Gargan, as does Godolphin’s homebred ENDORSED (15-1), who closed to be second in the Curlin for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
EVERFAST (30-1) and OWENDALE (6-1) , second and third, respectively, in the Preakness, are also entered, as is CHESS CHIEF (30-1), LAUGHING FOX (30-1) and SCARS ARE COOL (30-1).
Midnight Bisou, Elate Battle for Distaff Bid in Personal Ensign
While the Travers rates top billing, Saturday’s three Grade 1 “Win and You’re In” Challenge races are loaded with divisional stars that are sure to make their mark at Santa Anita later this fall. The best matchup of the day comes in the 1 1/8-mile $700,000 Personal Ensign, which will award an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, as Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stable, and Allen Racing’s MIDNIGHT BISOU, who is 5-for-5 this year, and Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s homebred ELATE, who finished behind Midnight Bisou twice earlier this year but has won two straight, meet for the third time.
Midnight Bisou, a 4-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute, has been unbeatable this year for trainer Steve Asmussen and already gained a berth into the Distaff when she won Belmont’s “Win and You’re In” Ogden Phipps (G1) in June and prepped for the Personal Ensign when she won Monmouth Park’s Molly Pitcher (G3) July 20. Midnight Bisou is 10-for-16 lifetime, including a third in last year’s Distaff at Churchill Downs. She has wins over Elate in Oaklawn Park’s Azeri (G2) and Apple Blossom (G1) this winter, but is 0-for-2 at Saratoga and at 1 1/8 miles. Elate, a 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, won the Alabama (G1) here in 2017 for trainer Bill Mott before running fourth as the favorite in the Distaff at Del Mar. Elate, who is 7-for-16 lifetime, was second, beaten a neck, in last year’s Personal Ensign, and also already qualified for this year’s Distaff, as she won Churchill’s Fleur de Lis (G2) in June before winning the Delaware Handicap (G2) in her last start July 13.
The presence of Midnight Bisou and Elate figure to keep the Personal Ensign field at a minimum, with WOW CAT, second in last year’s Distaff and second in her only start this year in the local prep, the Shuvee (G3) July 21, the biggest danger, while SHE’S A JULIE, who won Churchill’s La Troienne (G1) but was just third in the Shuvee, and COACH ROCKS, second in the Molly Pitcher, are also expected for the “Win and You’re In” Personal Ensign.
The $1 million “Win and You’re In”’ Sword Dancer, run at 1 ½ miles, offers an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf and could showcase a potential superstar in Klaravich Stable and Bill Lawrence’s ANNALS OF TIME, who was stunning winning an optional-claimer at Saratoga July 24 for trainer Chad Brown. The 6-year-old son of Temple City has battled myriad injuries over the years but seems better than even after enduring a 20-month layoff before getting back to the races when second in an optional-claimer at Belmont in June. Annals of Time is 4-for-7 lifetime, including a win in Hollywood Derby (G1) at Del Mar in 2016, and looks poised to join stablemate Bricks and Mortar at the top of the division.
New York turf stalwarts CHANNEL CAT, CHANNEL MAKER and 2017 winner SADLER’S JOY, who were 1-4-6, respectively, in the local prep, the Bowling Green (G2) July 27, are also expected and will provide stiff competition in the “Win and You’re In” Sword Dancer, as will newcomer YA PRIMO (CHI), who was second in the Bowling Green in his U.S. debut and first start for Brown, after winning a pair of Group 1s in his native Chile.
The $500,000 “Win and You’re In” Ballerina will award an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, and the seven-furlong contest looks to be the deepest and most competitive of the trio of Challenge races Saturday. Blue Devil Racing Stable’s COME DANCING figures as the one to beat, as she dominated while running extremely fast in winning the Distaff (G3) at Aqueduct in April and Ruffian (G2) at Belmont in May for trainer Carlos Martin. The 5-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon was actually favored over Midnight Bisou in the Phipps before running second and enters at 6-for-11.
Klaravich Stable’s SEPARATION OF POWERS will take plenty of support for Brown, as she won the Test (G1) here last year over the track and distance and the 4-year-old daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) enters off a romp in Belmont’s Bed ‘O Roses (G3) June 7. MIA MISCHIEF, who won Churchill’s Humana Distaff (G1) in May also rates a major contender, while DAWN THE DESTROYER, HONEY BUNNY, and SPECIAL RELATIVITY are also expected for the “Win and You’re In” Ballerina.
- September 25, 2021
Royal Patronage Scores in Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes and Earns Automatic Berth into Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf
Highclere Thoroughbred Racing’s Royal Patronage (FR) landed a thrilling Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (G2) at Newmarket, securing his guaranteed start in the US$1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
- September 24, 2021
Masekela Heads to Newmarket for Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes and Automatic Berth into Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf
Mick and Janice Mariscotti’s Masekela (IRE) heads a field of seven in Saturday’s Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (G2) at Newmarket.
- September 24, 2021
Amo Racing Limited’s Hello You (IRE) announced herself as one of the best 2-year-old fillies in Europe, as she quickened clear in Friday’s Unibet Rockfel Stakes (G2) at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile course.