Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Newsletter - October 17
Advisory: This is the last 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 Classic Highlights Record 10th ‘Cup at Santa Anita
With 86 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races in the rearview mirror and all the major preps around the country complete as well, all eyes turn to Santa Anita Park as the Breeders’ Cup returns to the Arcadia, California track for a record 10th time. The 36th Breeders’ Cup will unite countless equine stars from across the world as several divisional championships will be decided over two days and 14 races, totaling more than $30 million in purses, none more important than the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will bring the curtain down Saturday evening. A wide-open renewal is in the offing as handicap star MCKINZIE and 3-year-old stalwart CODE OF HONOR lead the way over an expected full field of 14, with a potential Horse of the Year title lying in the balance.
McKinzie winning the Whitney at Saratoga
Photo by Eclipse Sportswire
The field for the 1 ¼-mile Classic may be lacking a true superstar but there is plenty of depth in a race that looks like it could go any number of different ways. Favoritism could fall on Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman’s MCKINZIE, who has been the top rated horse in the Breeders' Cup Classic Rankings since June 11 for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who is seeking his fourth Classic win. The 4-year-old son of 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Street Sense earned a berth into the Classic when he won Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Whitney (G1) in August and prepped with a surprising second-place finish at 1-5 in another Classic qualifier, the local “Win and You’re In” Awesome Again (G1) Sept. 28. McKinzie, who is 7-for-13 lifetime, also won the Alysheba at Churchill Downs (G2) in May and will try to make amends for a disappointing 12th-place finish in last year’s Classic at Churchill. He’ll also have a new rider for the first time, as Joel Rosario replaces Mike Smith, who rode McKinzie in all 13 prior starts.
Will Farish’s homebred CODE OF HONOR could sew up divisional honors with a big run, as he’s had a productive year-long campaign for trainer Shug McGaughey and has really turned the corner this summer. The 3-year-old son of Noble Mission (GB) won Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth (G2) in August and was second (via disqualification) in the Kentucky Derby and has clearly taken his game to a new level since then, as he easily won Belmont Park’s Dwyer (G3) in July and Saratoga’s Travers (G1) in August before qualifying for the Classic when he was second but placed first in Belmont’s “Win and You’re In” Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) Sept. 28. Code of Honor is 5-for-9 lifetime and began his serious preparations for the Classic with a four-furlong work in 50.65 seconds Oct. 12 over Belmont’s main track, his first of two works before shipping to Santa Anita.
"Saturday was just something to get him going again and I'll come back and do more with him next weekend and blow him out and then send him to California and run him," McGaughey said.
The Classic will get some added appeal as Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s ELATE, a 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, is slated to tackle males and look to join the great Zenyatta as the only female to win the Classic. Trainer Bill Mott has had his eye on the race all year, since Elate excels over the distance, as she’s 3-for-3 going 1 ¼ miles. Elate, who is 7-for-18 lifetime, qualified for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff with her win in the “Win and You’re In” Fleur De Lis (G2) at Churchill in June, and enters off consecutive second-place finishes in another pair of grade 1 “Win and You’re In” Distaff qualifiers; Saratoga’s Personal Ensign in August and Keeneland’s Juddmonte Spinster Oct. 6.
The rest of the Classic division is led by a pair of “Win and You’re In” Classic qualifiers in Hronis Racing’s HIGHER POWER and Mongolian Stable’s MONGOLIAN GROOM. The former, a 4-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro won Del Mar’s Pacific Classic (G1) by 5 ¼ lengths at 1 ¼ miles to earn his bid for trainer John Sadler, could be flying under the radar, as he lost all chance at the start of the Awesome Again and was a distant third. The latter, a 4-year-old son of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Hightail shocked the Awesome Again at 25-1 for trainer Enebish Ganbat. Chuck Fipke’s homebred SEEKING THE SOUL earned a berth into the race when he won Churchill’s “Win and You’re In” Stephen Foster (G2) in June for trainer Dallas Stewart, while Mike Repole and St. Elias Stable’s VINO ROSSO was disqualified in the Gold Cup for trainer Todd Pletcher but won the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) in May at 1 ¼ miles.
Former grade 1 winner YOSHIDA (JPN), Pennsylvania Derby (G1) winner MATH WIZARD, and Preakness winner WAR OF WILL are also expected for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, as is graded stakes winner OWENDALE, while CATHOLIC BOY, and GRAY MAGICIAN are possible.
Breeders’ Cup Classic – Breeders’ Cup Challenge (BCC) Winners and Points Leaders
Midnight Bisou Makes Horse of the Year Claim in Distaff
Photo by Eclipse Sportswire
The $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, run at 1 1/8 miles, has its own Horse of the Year candidate in Bloom Racing, Madaket Stable, and Allen Racing’s MIDNIGHT BISOU, who is perfect in seven starts this year for trainer Steve Asmussen. The 4-year-old daughter of two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute owns a pair of “Win and You’re In” Distaff qualifiers: Belmont Park’s Ogden Phipps (G1) in June and Saratoga’s Personal Ensign (G1) in August, and has beaten Classic-bound Elate three times, including Oaklawn Park’s Apple Blossom (G1) in April. Midnight Bisou, who is 12-for-18 lifetime and was third in last year’s Distaff at Churchill Downs, prepped with a win in Belmont’s Beldame (G2), and a Distaff win, coupled with an upset in the Classic, would make a viable case for Horse of the Year. Midnight Bisou worked over the Santa Anita main track Oct. 14, going five furlongs in 1:01.60, with regular rider Mike Smith aboard, and Asmussen like what he saw.
“Perfect. I thought she looked very comfortable,” Asmussen said. “I was extremely curious for Mike’s input on how she went over the race track because of his familiarity with her and the race track separately, and all reports were very positive.”
While Midnight Bisou casts an imposing shadow, several other Distaff candidates would argue for favoritism without her presence, as a quartet of “Win and You’re In” qualifiers will be waiting in the wings, should the superstar filly fail to deliver. Merriebelle Stable’s BLUE PRIZE (ARG) repeated in Keeneland’s Oct. 6 Juddmonte Sprinter (G1) for trainer Nacho Correas and the 6-year-old daughter of Pure Prize (ARG) is 9-for-22 lifetime. She was a close fourth in last year’s Distaff. Paul and Karen Eggert’s homebred OLLIE’S CANDY won Del Mar’s Clement L. Hirsch (G1) in July for trainer John Sadler and the 4-year-old daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) is 4-for-9 lifetime; Steve Sarkowsky and Pam and Marty Wygod’s PARADISE WOODS earned a berth when she won Santa Anita’s Zenyatta (G2) Sept. 28 for trainer John Shirreffs and was third in the Distaff in 2017 at Del Mar when trained by Richard Mandella; and Ray Francis, Cindy Jones, and trainer Larry Jones’ homebred STREET BAND won Parx Racing’s Cotillion (G1) Sept. 21, though the 3-year-old daughter of Istan will face a tall task while tackling older for the first time.
Grade 1-winning 3-year-olds DUNBAR ROAD and SERENGETTI EMPRESS are also expected for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, as is LA FORCE (GER) and SECRET SPICE, while SHE’S A JULIE could also start.
- March 27, 2020
Focus Group will need to return to his best if he is to have a chance in the $200,000 Kitten’s Joy Pan American Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park on March 28.
- March 27, 2020
March 28 is the biggest day of the Gulfstream Park winter meeting, with the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby topping an action-packed, 14-race card with 10 stakes.
- March 19, 2020
The five rivals in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) will have a tough time beating Finite. The three-year-old filly is the 3-5 morning line choice for the 1 1/16-mile race at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana on March 21.