Countdown to the Breeders' Cup World Championships Newsletter - October 4, 2016
Advisory: This is the eighth of nine weekly news releases focusing on the horses and races leading to the 33rd Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5 at Santa Anita. For more information, please visit www.breederscup.com. The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network. 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.
Belmont’s Jockey Club Gold Cup, Keeneland’s Opening Take Center Stage on Pivotal Challenge Weekend
The penultimate weekend of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series does little to disappoint, as 12 “Win and You’re In” qualifiers for racing’s championship day November 4-5 at Santa Anita will be held between Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. and Santa Anita, in Arcadia, Calif. Belmont will host four challenge races Saturday, highlighted by the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI), which will offer the last-of-eight automatic berths into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, while Keeneland sees seven Challenge races span an Opening Weekend that also includes an appearance by champion and defending Breeders’ Cup Mile winner TEPIN, while Santa Anita also gets in on the action with one qualifier. When the dust settles Sunday evening, the majority of the starting gate for each and every one of the 13 Cup races will have a definitive shape.
Run at 1 ¼ miles, the Gold Cup will be shown live (5:00-6:00 p.m. ET) on NBC as part of a “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In Series - presented by Lane’s End Farm and America’s Best Racing” broadcast that will also feature the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (GI) and the Shadwell Turf Mile (GI), among the Keeneland Breeders’ Cup Challenge races (see race previews below).
The $1 million Gold Cup could be light on participation, but long on competition, as all five of the prospective starters have their merits. The favorite could be Mike Pegram’s HOPPERTUNITY, who has kept the best company of anyone in the race and will benefit from getting out of the imposing shadow that is California Chrome. The 5-year-old son of Any Given Saturday has chased the divisional leader three times to no avail this year, but has racked up over $1.4 million in earnings in a 1-for-5 campaign for trainer Bob Baffert. Hoppertunity, who is 5-for-21 lifetime, won the San Antonio (GII) at Santa Anita in February, was third to California Chrome in the Dubai World Cup (GI) at Meydan in March and most recently fourth to him in the Del Mar’s August 20 “Win and You’re In” TVG Pacific Classic (GI), which awarded an automatic starting berth into the Classic.
The home team will be led by Tri-Bone Stable’s EFFINEX, who was second in last year’s Classic at Keeneland and won the Oaklawn Handicap (GII) in April and the local Suburban (GII) in July for trainer Jimmy Jerkens and was most recently fourth in Saratoga’s August 6 “Win and You’re In” Whitney (GI), which also awarded an automatic starting berth into the Classic. Essafinaat’s MUBTAAHIJ (IRE), third in the Suburban and second, beaten a head in Saratoga’s Woodward (GI) September 3 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, also warrants respect in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, as does graded stakes winner SAMRAAT and the up-and-coming stakes-placed WATERSHED.
Lady Eli, Juvenile Challenge Stakes, Headline Gold Cup Undercard
Though the Gold Cup will clearly be the main attraction at Belmont, a trio of other grade I Challenge races will take place and offer automatic starting berths into the Breeders’ Cup; the $500,000 Flower Bowl (Filly & Mare Turf), which will include the wildly popular LADY ELI, the $500,000 Champagne (Sentient Jet Juvenile) and the $400,000 Frizette (14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies).
The Flower Bowl, run at 1 ¼ miles, will mark the second start in the comeback of Sheep Pond Partners’ Lady Eli, who saw her unbeaten streak come to an end in her return off a long layoff when second in Saratoga’s Ballston Spa (GII) August 27, which paled in comparison to her feel-good story after laminitis almost claimed her life last summer. The 4-year-old daughter of Divine Park won the first six starts of her career for trainer Chad Brown, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita in 2014, but stepped on a nail while returning to Brown’s barn after her win in the Belmont Oaks (GI) in July 2015 and subsequently had to fight for her life in the coming weeks and months. Lady Eli returned in the Ballston Spa and tired late, but should improve greatly off that run.
Brown will also start Martin Schwartz’s SEA CALISI (FR), who could actually go favored off her win in Arlington Park’s August 13 “Win and You’re In” Beverly D. (GI), which netted her an automatic berth into the Filly & Mare Turf, while Courtlandt Farm’s homebred STRIKE CHARMER rates a long look after her upset of Lady Eli in the Ballston Spa for trainer Mark Hennig. Stakes winners AME BLUE (GB), ITSONLYACTINGDAD and SENTIERO ITALIA are also expected for the Flower Bowl.
The one-turn mile Champagne will offer an exciting clash between arguably the two most impressive 2-year-olds at Saratoga this summer in Klaravich Stable and Bill Lawrence’s PRACTICAL JOKE, who won the Hopeful (GI) September 5 for Brown, and Eric Fein’s New York-bred SYNDERGAARD, who aired in two starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, including by 10 ¼ lengths in Saratoga’s Funny Cide August 26. The former, a son of Flatter, has a tactical gear that should have him sitting off the brilliant early speed of the latter, a son of Majesticperfection, who went 44 3/5 for a half-mile in the Funny Cide.
Klaravich Stable, Lawrence and Brown will also start FAVORABLE OUTCOME, who impressed winning his lone start by 6 lengths at Saratoga August 20, while BIG GRAY ROCKET will invade from Del Mar off a 6 ¾-length maiden win for trainer Bob Baffert, and LOOKING AT BLESSING, who broke his maiden over the track and distance September 11 for trainer Nick Zito, are also expected for the Champagne.
The Frizette, the sister race to the Champagne, is expected to be led by St. Elias Stable’s NONA MELA, who crushed the field by 6 lengths in Saratoga’s August 19 Adirondack (GII) for Pletcher. The daughter of Arch is 2-for-3 lifetime and figures a strong favorite over a Frizette field that could also include maiden winners COLORFUL CHARADES, LIBBY’S TAIL, SKY GESTURE, STAR SUPER and YELLOW AGATE.
Tepin, Stellar Shadwell Turf Mile Helps Keeneland Open with a Bang
While Keeneland opens Friday and hosts seven Challenge races over their first three days of racing, including a tremendous renewal of Saturday’s $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (GI), which will offer an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile, it’s the presence of Robert Masterson’s defending Mile winner TEPIN in the $400,000 First Lady (GI) that will likely have the fans buzzing. The 5-year-old daughter of Bernstein, who won the 1-mile First Lady last year before doubling up a month later in the Mile, is 13-for-21 lifetime but has been unbeatable over the past year and will look for her ninth straight win, a streak that started in last year’s First Lady. Tepin is 6-for-6 this year, which includes a historic victory in Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne (GI) in June, as well as the “Win and You’re In” Ricoh Woodbine Mile (GI) September 16, which netted her an automatic berth into this year’s Mile at Santa Anita.
While Tepin will be an overwhelming favorite, the First Lady field won’t be lacking challengers, as Sagamore Farm’s MISS TEMPLE CITY, who defeated males in the course and distance Maker’s 46 Mile (GI) in April for trainer Graham Motion, will offer a stiff challenge, as will Phaedrus Farm’s CELESTINE, unraced since winning Belmont Park’s Just a Game (GI) June 11 for trainer Bill Mott. Graded or group stakes winner CASH CONTROL, NEMORALIA, NOW OR NEVER (IRE), ONUS and SHE’S NOT HERE are also expected for the First Lady.
Only the presence of a future Hall of Famer could out shadow this year’s Shadwell Turf Mile, as the race is a “who’s who” in the mile turf division. Favoritism will be up for grabs, but could ultimately fall on WinStar Farm, Wachtel Stable and Gary Barber’s TOURIST, who finally got over the grade I hump when he won Saratoga’s Fourstardave August 20 for Mott. The 5-year-old son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow is 5-for-16 lifetime, was a close third in last year’s Shadwell and looks like a much better horse than the one who finished 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 2014 at Santa Anita and eighth last year over the course.
Stuart Janney’s homebred IRONICUS, who makes his much anticipated return after running a troubled second to Flintshire (GB) in Belmont’s Manhattan (GI) June 11 for trainer Shug McGaughey, will also garner plenty of support, as will Geoff and Sandra Turnbull’s globe-trotting MONDIALISTE (IRE), who was second to Tepin in last year’s Mile and will cut back in distance after earning an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf in the “Win and You’re In” Arlington Million (GI) August 13 for trainer David O’Meara.
Defending Shadwell Mile winner GRAND ARCH, who was third in last year’s Mile, will look for his first win of the year, while KASAQUI (ARG), second in the Million, and grade I winner RING WEEKEND add plenty of depth to the Shadwell Mile, as do graded stakes winners PLEUVEN and WHAT A VIEW.
Alcibiades, Phoenix Kick off Meet and Challenge Weekend
The “Win and You’re In” action at Keeneland starts off Friday with the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (GI), which will award an automatic starting berth into the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, headlining the opening day card. Run at 1 1/16 miles, the Alcibiades will offer a chance to get a key two-turn prep before the Juvenile Fillies and figures to be led by Normandy Farm’s DADDYS LIL DARLING, who already secured a berth into the Juvenile Fillies with her win in Churchill Downs’ “Win and You’re In” Pocahontas (GII) September 17 for trainer Kenny McPeek. The 2-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy is 2-for-3 lifetime, but has won both of her two-turn races.
DIADURA and BENNER ISLAND, the 1-2 finishers of the Arlington-Washington Lassie at Arlington Park September 10 are also expected for the Darley Alcibiades, as are the stakes-placed CAROLINE TEST, FUN and LADY HANSEN.
Earlier on the Friday card, the $250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (GIII) will award an automatic starting berth into the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The six-furlong Phoenix got a big boost when Green Lantern Stable’s homebred A.P. INDIAN, one of the division’s leaders, was rerouted from Belmont Park after heavy rains rendered the main track muddy for last weekend’s “Win and You’re In” Vosburgh (GI, see race recap below). Trained by Arnaud Delacour, the 6-year-old son of Indian Charlie has won four straight stakes, including Saratoga’s Alfred Vanderbilt (GI) in July and “Win and You’re In” Forego (GI) September 3 to earn a berth into the Sprint. A.P. Indian, who is 10-for-16 lifetime, figures a prohibitive favorite in the Phoenix.
PJG Stable’s graded stakes winner FAVORITE TALE is expected to make his first start since March for trainer Guadalupe Preciado, and while he’s run just once this year, his third-place finish in last year’s Sprint over the local track makes him a major contender. Veteran stakes performers CINCO CHARLIE, LIMOUSINE LIBERAL, REQUITE and W.B. SMUDGE are also expected for the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix, as is the lightly raced but talented LOOSE ON THE TOWN.
Breeders’ Futurity Looms a Worthy Co-Feature on a Loaded Shadwell Mile Card
The $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (GI) will serve as one of several supporting features on the Saturday card and the 1 1/16-mile test will offer a slew of lightly raced 2-year-olds their first chance at negotiating two turns on the main track. Favoritism for a race that looks wide open on paper could go to John Oxley’s CLASSIC EMPIRE, who won his first two starts for trainer Mark Casse, including Churchill Downs’ Bashford Manor (GIII) in July, but wheeled at the start and threw his jockey as the favorite when last seen in Saratoga’s Hopeful (GI) September 5. The son of Pioneerof the Nile signaled he’s got his mind on business with a sharp 59 2/5 five-furlong works at Churchill September 23.
Peacock Racing Stable’s GUNNEVERA closed from the clouds to win the Saratoga Special (GII) August 14 for trainer Antonio Sano and has a running style that should appreciate some added ground, while the rest of the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity field will likely be made up of lightly raced runners looking to make their mark on the nation scene, with BLAME WILL, HONOR THY FATHER, LOOKIN AT LEE, SINGING BULLET and TIZ TREVOR all looking for their first graded stakes wins.
The $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (GII) will award an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup & Mare Sprint and the six-furlong race is shaping up as one of the most competitive races of the weekend, with JAG Racing and Jettany Thoroughbred Corporation’s LUCY N ETHEL rating a slight favorite off her 4-for-4 record. The 3-year-old daughter of During made her first start since winning the Old Hat at Gulfstream Park January 2 when she wired the field in Saratoga’s Prioress (GII) September 4 for trainer Chloe Bradley and has yet to be behind a horse at any point in her four races.
Stoneway Farm’s multiple graded stakes winner STONETASTIC should offer stiff competition for trainer Kelly Breen and has been equally dazzling on the front end, while BENDABLE, defending champion FIORETTI, LUMINANCE, SARAH SIS and SPELLING AGAIN all have the credentials to win the Thoroughbred Club of America.
Spinster, Bourbon Close Out Huge Opening Weekend
Sunday offers a pair of “Win and You’re In” races, with the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (GI) taking center stage. Run at 1 1/8 miles, the Spinster will be shown live (5:00-6:00 p.m. ET) on NBC as part of a “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In Series - presented by Lane’s End Farm and America’s Best Racing” broadcast that will also feature the “Win and You’re In” Dixiana Bourbon (GIII), which will award an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
The Spinster will be led by Grayson Farm’s I’M A CHATTERBOX, who won the Delaware Handicap (GI) in July for trainer Larry Jones and will get some serious class relief after running a close fourth in another Distaff qualifier, Saratoga’s August 27 “Win and You’re In” Personal Ensign (GI), where she was behind division heavyweights Cavorting, Curalina and Forever Unbridled. The 4-year-old daughter of Munnings, who was eighth in last year’s Distaff over the track and distance, is 7-for-15 lifetime.
Klaravich Stable and Bill Lawrence’s PAID UP SUBSCRIBER has chased I’m a Chatterbox home in her last two, running second in the Del Cap and fifth in the Personal Ensign. The 4-year-old daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) won Churchill Downs’ Fleur de Lis (GII) in July and is 4-for-10 lifetime for trainer Al Stall. The rest of a potentially compact Juddmonte Spinster field could include graded stakes winners ENGAGINGLEE, GENRE and INNOVATIVE IDEA.
Sunday’s co-featured $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon, run at 1 1/16 miles, is expected to draw an overflow field, with Carolyn Wilson’s WELLABLED leading the way for trainer Larry Rivelli. The 2-year-old son of Shackleford is 2-for-3 lifetime and enters off a 7 ¾-length win in Arlington Park’s Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII) September 10.
William Helwig and Brent Gasaway’s ALL RIGHT and Anderson Thoroughbreds’ PARLOR, who ran 1-2 in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile September 3 for trainers Kellyn Gorder and Eddie Kenneally, respectively, also figure to make their presence felt, as does Abdullah Saeed Almaddah’s ROYAL BY NATURE (IRE), who is 2-for-2 lifetime for trainer Brad Cox, including the Sunday Silence at Louisiana Downs September 10, while maiden winners ANCIENT WARFARE, HOLIDAY BONUS, HOT DAD, IT’S YOUR NICKEL, KEEP QUIET (FR), PRADOS WAY and REAL CREEL are also expected for the Dixiana Bourbon.
Santa Anita’s Sprint Championship to Offer Cup Bid
While Santa Anita’s showcase came last weekend, when five grade I Challenge races were held (see race recaps below), Saturday’s $300,000 Sprint Championship (GI) will offer an automatic starting berth into the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Run at six furlongs, the Sprint Championship will have a stiff favorite in Spendthrift Farm’s LORD NELSON, who has won three straight to firmly put himself in contention for a sprint championship for trainer Bob Baffert. The 4-year-old son of Pulpit won an optional claimer over the track in June then reeled off back-to-back grade I’s in the local Triple Bend in June and Del Mar’s July 31 “Win and You’re In” Bing Crosby to earn an automatic berth into the Sprint. Lord Nelson is 6-for-12 lifetime and a third grade I sprint win of the year would give him a leg up on for divisional honors.
Baffert will also saddle Zayat Stable’s the speedy JAZZY TIMES, who will be making his stakes debut, while the stakes-placed CAUTIOUS GIANT, INDEXICAL, and LOVE MY BUD could also see action in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
- October 19, 2021
“Cocktails & Conversation,” the weekly virtual happy hour series, is back on Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT. The 18th episode of the season will feature G1-winning owner Jaime Roth of LNJ Foxwoods; hosted by Britney Eurton and Nick Luck of NBC Sports and joined by renowned mixologist and creator of Breeders’ Cup’s official cocktails Mark Tubridy.
- October 18, 2021
LIMITED GENERAL ADMISSION TICKETS FOR 2021 BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS AT DEL MAR TO GO ON SALE WEDNESDAY
Breeders’ Cup announced today that a limited amount of General Admission tickets for the 2021 World Championships at Del Mar will go on sale Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Noon ET/9:00 a.m. PT. This year’s prestigious international event returns to the iconic Southern California racing venue for the second time in its history on Nov. 5 and 6.
- October 16, 2021
Le Haras De La Gousserie’s Sealiway (FR) struck for France to win a thrilling renewal of the QIPCO Champion Stakes (G1) on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot. With this victory, Sealiway gained an automatic place in the US$4 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.