Countdown to the Breeders' Cup World Championships Newsletter - October 21
Advisory: This is the last of eight weekly news releases focusing on the horses and races leading to the 38th Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, Nov. 5 and Saturday, Nov. 6 at Del Mar. For more information, please visit 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.
Surfs Up at Del Mar as Breeders’ Cup Returns for Second Time
Cox’s Knicks Go, Essential Quality Lead Field for $6 Million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic
The waiting is no longer the hardest part. With 86 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races in the rearview mirror, the 38th Breeders’ Cup World Championship is in full focus, as Del Mar beckons on Nov. 5-6 for the second time, some four years after a rousing success in 2017. All told, 14 championship races worth $31 million in purses and awards will take place over two days, with the grand finale, the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at 1 ¼ miles, headlined by the Brad Cox-trained stablemates KNICKS GO and ESSENTIAL QUALITY in a field brimming with talent, and the Horse of the Year title on the line.
(Pre-entries for all 14 Breeders’ Cup World Championship races will be announced live on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 8:30 a.m. PT/ 11:30 a.m. ET on TVG and streamed on BreedersCup.com. Friday’s World Championships races will be shown on NBCSN, TVG and BreedersCup.com from 2-6 p.m. PT, while Saturday’s races will be on NBCSN and TVG from 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. PT and on NBC from 5-6 p.m. PT.)
Cox, who used four Breeders’ Cup wins last year at Keeneland as a springboard to his first Eclipse Award as Outstanding Trainer, has a big chance to win his first Classic as Korea Racing Authority’s Knicks Go and Godolphin’s homebred Essential Quality — two of his Breeders’ Cup winners last year — are all but assured of being the first two betting choices.
Knicks Go takes the “Win and You’re In” Whitney at Saratoga
Eclipse Sportswire photo
Knicks Go wired the $1 million Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last year and has used that style with aplomb this year as well, as he ran the field off their feet in Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Whitney (G1) in August to earn an automatic starting berth into the Classic. The 5-year-old son of Paynter is 9-for-23 lifetime and prepped for the Classic with a win in Churchill Downs’ Oct. 2 Lukas Classic (G3).
Essential Quality was voted 2-year-old champion last year on the basis of his win in the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1), and like his stablemate, he too hasn’t missed a beat this year, winning 5-of-6 starts. The son of Tapit suffered his only career defeat when fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) but rebounded to win the Belmont (G1) in June and Saratoga’s Aug. 28 Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) in his most recent start. Essential Quality is 8-for-9 lifetime.
The rest of the prospective Classic field is extremely formidable and includes three “Win and You’re In” automatic qualifiers. The group includes Zedan Racing Stable’s MEDINA SPIRIT, who qualified for the Classic when he won Santa Anita’s Oct. 2 Awesome Again by 5 lengths for trainer Bob Baffert, and George Hall and SportBLX Thoroughbred Corp.’s MAX PLAYER, who earned his free berth when he won Saratoga’s Sept. 4 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) for trainer Steve Asmussen, while Hronis Racing’s TRIPOLI won Del Mar’s TVG Pacific Classic (G1) in August for trainer John Sadler.
Classic contention runs deep, aside from the favorites and “Win and You’re In” qualifiers, with Roadrunner Racing, William Strauss, Boat Racing and Gainesway Stable’s HOT ROD CHARLIE leading the way for trainer Doug O’Neil off his win in Parx Racing’s Sept. 25 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and his game second to Essential Quality in the Belmont, while Bruce Lunsford’s homebred ART COLLECTOR impressed wiring a strong group in Belmont’s Oct. 2 Woodward (G1) for trainer Bill Mott. California-based runners EXPRESS TRAIN, IDOL and STILLETO BOY also are potential starters in the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Letruska Imposing Favorite in Longines Distaff
Should both Knicks Go and Essential Quality fail to fire in the Classic, St. George Stable’s homebred LETRUSKA could wrestle away Horse of the Year if she were to win as the heavy favorite in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at 1 1/8 miles.
Letruska has been a true superstar and a bit of a throwback this year for trainer Fausto Gutierrez, as she’s already started seven times, with six wins, and enters off four straight scores in “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Distaff automatic qualifiers; Belmont Park’s Ogden Phipps (G1) and Churchill Downs’ Fleur de Lis (G2) in June, Saratoga’s Personal Ensign (G1) in August, and Keeneland’s Oct. 10 Juddmonte Spinster (G1). The 5-year-old daughter of Super Saver is 17-for-22 lifetime, which includes a win over two-time Distaff winner Monomoy Girl in Oaklawn Park’s April Blossom (G1) in April.
A trio of “Win and You’re In” Distaff automatic qualifiers are lining up to face Letruska, with Baoma Corporation’s PRIVATE MISSION coming in off a win in Santa Anita’s Oct. 3 Zenyatta (G2) for trainer Bob Baffert, while Flurry Racing Stables, Qatar Racing Limited and Big Aut Farms’ SHEDARESTHEDEVIL earned her berth in the local Clement L. Hirsch (G1) in August for trainer Brad Cox. Haras Cachagua and S.A.Y. Haras Pozo De Luna’s BLUE STRIPE (ARG) offers some foreign intrigue, as she qualified off a win in Hipodromo Argentino De Palermo’s May 1 Gran Premio Criadores (G1). She now is trained by Marcelo Polanco.
The biggest potential threat to Letruska is likely Shadwell Stable’s MALATHAAT, the likely 3-year-old filly champion who won the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Saratoga’s Aug. 21 Alabama (G1) for trainer Todd Pletcher, while Peter Brant’s DUNBAR ROAD and W.S. Farish’s homebred ROYAL FLAG both ran well this year against Letruska for trainer Chad Brown. AS TIME GOES BY, CLAIRIERE, HOROLOGIST and MARCHE LORRAINE (JPN) also are potential starters in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Domestic Spending Leads Home Team for Longines Turf, Euro Participation in Flux
Who the Europeans send for the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at 1 ½ miles is still a question mark, a list that includes the Aga Kahn’s defending champion TARNAWA (IRE), but what isn’t is that they’ll face a formidable challenge from Klaravich Stables’ DOMESTIC SPENDING (GB), who rates as a clear divisional leader for the Americans.
While Domestic Spending is best among the home team for trainer Chad Brown, he will need to rebound from his lone defeat this season, as he was second when last seen in Arlington Park’s Aug. 14 Mr. D. Stakes (G1), which was a “Win and You’re In” for the Turf. The 4-year-old son of Kingman (GB) dead-heated for the win in the Churchill Downs Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) in May then won Belmont Park’s Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes (G1) in June. Domestic Spending, 6-for-8 lifetime, will be trying 1 ½ miles for the first time.
Tarnawa (IRE) is the defending champion of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf
Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire photo
Tarnawa has taken the road less traveled to a potential title defense after winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf last year at Keeneland for trainer Dermot Weld, as she’s started just three times this year. The 5-year-old daughter of Shamardal daughter of didn’t make her seasonal debut until August when she won the Ballyroan Stakes (G3) at Leopardstown, and has since been second in two Group 1 “Win and You’re In” races for the Turf, Leopardstown’s Irish Champion Stakes in September and ParisLongchamp’s Oct. 3 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Tarnawa is 9-for-17 lifetime and would have an edge on Domestic Spending, in that she excels over 1 ½ miles.
No fewer than seven “Win and You’re In” automatic qualifiers could meet the starter, including a trio from Europe. Le Haras de la Gousserie’s SEALIWAY (FR), who won Ascot’s Oct. 16 QIPCO Champion Stakes (see recap below) for trainer Cedric Rossi, rates as the “now” horse, as he defeated an all-star cast .
Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier’s star 4-year-old filly LOVE (IRE) won Royal Ascot’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) in June for trainer Aidan O’Brien for an invitation to the Breeders’ Cup Turf, while Godolphin’s homebred YIBIR (GB) won Belmont’s Sept. 18 Jockey Club Derby for trainer Charlie Appleby.
The American Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series winners include John O’Connor’s ASTRONAUT, who qualified when he won the Aug. 21 Del Mar Handicap Presented by the Japan Racing Association (G2) for trainer John Shirreffs; Otter Ben Stables’ GUFO, who earned his berth in Saratoga’s Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer (G1) in August for trainer Christophe Clement, and Bonne Chance Farm and Stud R D I’s IMPERADOR (ARG), who qualified when he won the Sept. 11 Calumet Turf Cup (G2) for trainer Paulo Lobo.
Brown also is expected to start Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, Wonder Stables, Michael Kisber and Michael Caruso’s ROCKEMPEROR (IRE), who surprised when winning Belmont’s Oct. 9 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1), and Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, Wonder Stables and Michael Caruso’s TRIBHUVAN (FR), who won Monmouth Park’s United Nations (G1) in July. Multiple graded stakes winning veterans CHANNEL CAT, CHANNEL MAKER, and UNITED also are potential starters for the Americans in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), while Group 1 winners SISFAHAN (FR), TEONA (IRE) and WALTON STREET (GB) could come from Europe.
Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf Tough to Figure
Those with a strong opinion in the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) might be few and far between as the 1 3/8-mile race is shaping up as one of the most wide-open renewals of the 14 championship races. Mrs. A.M. Swinburn’s defending champion AUDARYA (IRE) could be an ever so slight favorite, should she make the trip from Europe, though there are seven “Win and You’re In” qualifiers that would garner plenty of support as well.
Audarya upset the Filly & Mare Turf last year at Keeneland for trainer James Fanshawe but is still searching for her first win after four starts this year, including a fourth in ParisLongchamp’s Oct. 3 Prix de l’Opera de Longines (G1), a Win and You’re In” for the Filly & Mare Turf. Audarya is 5-for-17 lifetime and could find her form again over a firm Del Mar turf course, as she was seemingly bogged down over heavy turf in the Prix de l’Opera.
The American “Win and You’re In” qualifiers are led by George Krikorian’s WAR LIKE GODDESS, who won Saratoga’s Sept. 4 Flower Bowl (G1) for trainer Bill Mott and is 6-for-7 lifetime, while Peter Brant’s BLOWOUT (GB) won Keeneland’s Oct. 9 First Lady Presented by UK HealthCare (G1) for trainer Chad Brown. Abbondanza Racing, Medallion Racing and MyRacehorse’s GOING TO VEGAS won Santa Anita’s Oct. 2 Rodeo Drive (G1) for trainer Richard Baltas, and Arriba Arequipa’s REINA DE MOLLENDO (ARG) won Hipodromo De Monterrico’s June 26 Clasico Pamplona (G1) and will run for trainer Kenny McPeek. The Europeans could send Jessica Slack Jell and Gary Barber’s QUEEN SUPREME (IRE), who won Kenilworth’s Cartier Paddock Stakes (G1) South Africa in January and will run for trainer Andrew Balding, while Le Haras De La Gousserie’s ROUGIR (FR) won the l’Opera for trainer Cedric Rossi, and Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier’s SNOWFALL (JPN) won York’s Darley Yorkshire Oaks (G1) in August for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Mo Forza winning the City of Hope Stakes
Eclipse Sportswire Photo
No Standouts in Wide Open FanDuel Mile
The $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) could well oversubscribe with more than 14 pre-entered, especially since there is no clear-cut favorite or American standout, and among the Europeans, defending champion ORDER OF AUSTRALIA (IRE) brings very suspect form off a 1-for-6 campaign.
A trio of American “Win and You’re In” automatic qualifiers are expected, with MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm’s GOT STORMY, second in the Mile at Santa Anita in 2019, earning her way with a win over males in Saratoga’s Fourstardave (G1) in August for trainer Mark Casse, while Bonne Chance Farm and Stud R D I’s IN LOVE (BRZ) won the Oct. 9 Keeneland Turf Mile (G1) for trainer Paulo Lobo. In California, Bardy Farm and OG Boss’ MO FORZA made his 2021 debut in August and was extremely sharp in winning the Del Mar Mile Stakes (G2) and then the Oct. 2 City of Hope (G2) at Santa Anita for trainer Peter Miller. Cannon Thoroughbreds’ homebred SMOOTH LIKE STRAIT won Santa Anita’s Shoemaker Mile (G1) in May for trainer Michael McCarthy.
The rest of the Americans are led by Grade 1 winners in D K Racing, Radley Equine, Taste of Victory Stables, Rick Gold, Tony Maslowski and Dave Odmark’s HIT THE ROAD for trainer Dan Blacker, and Peter Brant’s RAGING BULL (FR) for trainer Chad Brown. CASA CREED, IVAR (BRZ), SOMELIKEITHOTBROWN, SNAPPER SINCLAIR, SPACE TRAVELLER (GB) and TELL YOUR DADDY also could start.
Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier’s MOTHER EARTH (IRE) would give the Europeans some firepower for trainer Aidan O’Brien, as would Godolphin’s homebred SPACE BLUES (IRE) for trainer Charlie Appleby, while LAVENDER’S BLUE (IRE), P EARLS GALORE (FR), POGO (IRE), REAL APPEAL (GER), SPEAK OF THE DEVIL (FR), THUNDER MOON (IRE), and VIN DE GARDE (JPN) also could invade for the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile.
- November 23, 2021
Godolphin Wins Fourth Consecutive John Deere Award as Outstanding Breeder of the 2021 Breeders' Cup World Championships and Challenge Series
Strengthened by victories from homebreds Modern Games (IRE), Space Blues (IRE) and Yibir (GB), for the fourth consecutive year Godolphin has won the John Deere Award, honoring the outstanding breeder of the 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships and the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
- November 18, 2021
Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Knicks Go departed Taylor Made Farm Nov. 17 for Brad Cox’s barn at Churchill Downs in Louisville to ready for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Jan. 29 at Gulfstream Park.
- November 6, 2021
Total all-sources common-pool handle for the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club was $182,908,409, a new record for the two-day event.