Countdown to the Breeders' Cup World Championships Newsletter - September 17
Advisory: This is the third 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.
Ricoh Mile Headlines at Woodbine; Juveniles on Display at Churchill Downs
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series has North America all to itself this weekend, as Woodbine Racetrack outside of Toronto hosts a trio of “Win and You’re In” races over two days, highlighted by Saturday’s Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1), which will award an automatic starting berth into the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), while Churchill Downs’ September Meet kicks off with a pair of Saturday free qualifiers for 2-year-olds; and Belmont Park gets into the action as well.
The Woodbine Mile is the centerpiece of a big weekend at the Canadian oval, as Sunday features Grade 1 “Win and You’re In” races in the Summer Stakes, which will award an automatic starting berth into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), and the Natalma, which offers a spot into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). All three Woodbine races will air live on NBCSN, with Saturday’s Woodbine Mile being shown from 5:30-6:30 p.m. ET, and on Sunday, the Natalma and Summer from 4:30-6 p.m. ET, as part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – presented by America’s Best Racing.”
Set Piece winning Wise Dan Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs
@ Coady Photography
The $1 million Woodbine Mile has historically had a major impact on the Breeders’ Cup Mile, with Wise Dan (2012-2013) and World Approval (2017) using a win as a springboard to a Breeders’ Cup victory, while Court Vision (2010) and Tepin (2016) also won both races in their careers. This year’s renewal has drawn 10 starters, with Juddmonte’s homebred SET PIECE (GB) leading the way.
Set Piece, a 5-year-old son of Dansili (GB), has been in sharp form all year for trainer Brad Cox and his stretch-running style should relish the Woodbine turf course. He rolled home late to win Churchill Downs’ Opening Verse in April, the Douglas Park in May, and the Wise Dan (G2) in June before running second in Saratoga’s Aug. 14 Fourstardave (G1), also a “Win and You’re In” for the Mile. Set Piece is 9-for-17 lifetime and 6-for-10 at the mile distance.
The home team is led by Gary Barber’s OLYMPIC RUNNER, a 5-year-old son of Gio Ponti who won the local Aug. 15 prep, the King Edward (G2) for trainer Mark Casse, while defeating TOWN CRUISE, MARCH TO THE ARCH, and AVIE’S FLATTER, who were 2-4, respectively.
Europeans have always had an eye on the Woodbine Mile and this year will be no different, with Fitriani Hay’s stakes-placed DUKE OF HAZZARD (FR) coming for trainer Paul Cole, while Clipper Logistics’ SPACE TRAVELLER (GB) ran 19 times in Europe for trainer Richard Fahey and was fourth in the Mister D. (G1, formerly the Arlington Million) in his U.S. debut and first start for trainer Brendan Walsh.
The rest of the American invaders are led by Peter Brant’s RAGING BULL (FR), who disappointed when sixth at even-money in the Fourstardave for trainer Chad Brown but will be well backed to make amends, as the 6-year-old son of Dark Angel (IRE) won Keeneland’s Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) in April and is 7-for-20 lifetime. CHANGE OF CONTROL and RIDE A COMET are also entered for the “Win and You’re In” Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Summer, Natalma Ripe with Blossoming Talent
Sunday’s $400,000 Summer Stakes and the $400,000 Natalma Stakes , at 1-mile, drew deep and competitive fields with a strong mixture of locals and invaders still looking to make their mark on the national scene and prove they are worthy of a trip to Del Mar.
The Summer is led by West Point Thoroughbreds, John Ballantyne, and Titletown Racing Stables’ DRIPPING GOLD, a son of Lemon Drop Kid who impressed winning on debut Aug. 7 at Saratoga for trainer Shug McGaughey.
Harlequin Ranches’ FIRST EMPIRE won the local prep, the Aug. 21 Soaring Free, for trainer Mark Casse. The son of 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Classic Empire leads the way for the home team, which also includes GRAFTON STREET, HEAT MERCHANT, LUCKMAN, READY LADY, and SOUPER LEGACY, while Godolphin’s homebred ALBAHR (GB) invades from Europe for trainer Charlie Appleby. HEAT MERCHANT, who was second in the Catch a Glimpse for trainer Eoin Harty, is also entered in the “Win and You’re In” Summer.
The Natalma looks wide open, with D.J. Stable and Nexus Racing Club’s DIABOLIC (IRE), a daughter of Dark Angel (IRE) who won the local prep, the Aug. 21 Catch a Glimpse for Casse, rating a long look off her 3-for-3 record, while ROYAL ENGAGEMENT and MRS. BARBARA, second and third to her, respectively, are also entered, as are Woodbine-based BAKSHEESH, CARDIO PRINCESS (JPN), GUILEFUL, and READY LADY.
The shippers are led by Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, and Louis Lazzinnaro’s EMINENT VICTOR, and PIZZA BIANCA for trainer Christophe Clement, while Godolphin’s WILD BEAUTY (GB) won the Sweet Solera (G3) at Newmarket Aug. 7 for Appleby and will take plenty of support in the “Win and You’re In” Natalma.
Churchill Opens, Juveniles Take Center Stage
Churchill Downs’ 12-day September Meet opens Thursday and ramps up Saturday with the “Win and You’re In” Iroquois Stakes (G3) and “Win and You’re In” Pocahontas Stakes (G3) offering up automatic starting berths into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1) and $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), respectively. Run at 1 1/16 miles, both races offer up the chance at getting two-turn experience, which can be extremely important as the precociousness of an early season 2-year-old begins to wear off.
The $300,000 Iroquois lured Winchell Thoroughbreds’ GUNTOWN, who won his second start impressively on Aug. 13 at Ellis Park for trainer Steve Asmussen. A son of 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Gun Runner, who Asmussen campaigned for Winchell Thoroughbreds, Guntown was a troubled third on debut at Ellis Park in July and is by the hottest freshman sire in the country, as he’s a stablemate of the Asmussen-trained Gunite and Echo Zulu, who won Saratoga’s Hopeful (G1) and Spinaway (G1), respectively, earlier this month.
Asmussen also has STELLAR TAP for L and N Racing and Winchell, and the son of Tapit looked good in his first start on Aug. 7 at Saratoga, as he drew off by 5 ¼ lengths, while WinStar Farm and Siena Farm’s MAJOR GENERAL won on debut at Saratoga Aug. 21 for trainer Todd Pletcher. Major General has a pedigree to relish two turns, as he is by Constitution and out of a mare by 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Uncle Mo. Carolyn Wilson’s ROGER MCQUEEN, a colt by Unified who is 2-for-3 lifetime for trainer Larry Rivelli, which includes the Aug. 15 Ellis Park Juvenile, is also entered, as are BOURBON HEIST, HUSBAND MATERIAL, LUCKY BOSS, MAGNOLIA MIDNIGHT, RED KNOBS, STRIKE HARD, and TOUGH TO TAME.
The $300,000 Pocahontas is led by Red Oak Stable’s homebred GODDESS OF FIRE, a half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Control who won on debut Aug. 22 at Saratoga for Pletcher. And while her more accomplished older brother was best at 7 furlongs, he did win going a one-turn mile in Aqueduct’s Jerome in 2019.
Hidden Brook Farm’s HIDDEN CONNECTION, a daughter of Connect who romped by 7 ½ length on debut Aug. 17 at Colonial Downs for trainer Bret Calhoun, is long on talent, as is D.J. Stable’s LEMIEUX, a daughter of 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Nyquist who broke her maiden in her third career start at Saratoga Aug. 18 for trainer Mark Casse. CODE FOR SUCCESS, JOYRUNNER, KNEESNHIPS, MAMA RINA, MAJESTIC D’ORO, MISS CHAMITA, and ONTHEONESANDTWOS are also entered in the “Win and You’re In” Pocahontas.
Belmont Derby to Offer Turf Bid
Belmont Park’s Fall Meet opens Friday and the obvious Opening Weekend highlight is Saturday’s $1 million “Win and You’re In” Jockey Club Derby, which will award an automatic starting berth into the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
Run at 1 ½ miles, the Jockey Club Derby looks to have an evenly-matched group, with Godolphin’s homebred YIBIR (GB) the 2-1 morning line favorite for trainer Charlie Appleby. The 3-year-old son of Dubawi (IRE) enters off a win in Aug. 18 Great Voltigeur (G2) at York. Yibir, who also won the Bahrain Trophy (G3) at Newmarket in July, is 4-for-10 lifetime.
The locals are led by Michael Dubb, Morris Bailey, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables, and Michael Caruso’s SOLDIER RISING, who ran a strong second in his U.S. debut for trainer Christophe Clement in the Aug. 7 Saratoga Derby (G1). The son of Frankel (GB) was 2-for-4 in Europe for trainer Andre Fabre before coming to America and figures to only improve off his stateside debut.
Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, and Westerberg’s BOLSHOI BALLET (IRE) should take plenty of support, should he make the trip for trainer Adian O’Brien, as the son of Galileo (IRE) won the Belmont Derby (G1) in July, while Teruya Yoshida’s TOKYO GOLD (FR), who won the Italian Derby (G2) at Capannelle in May and was second in the Belmont Derby for trainer Satoshi Kobayashi, also give the invaders some added firepower.
U.S.-based stakes performers SLICKED BACK, TANGO TANGO TANGO , EXPERIENCED, and STEP DANCER are the locals entered in the “Win and You’re In” Jockey Club Derby.
News and Notes
Flightline Could Run Next in Sprint
Hronis Racing, West Point Thoroughbreds, Summer Wind Equine, Siena Farm, and Woodford Racing’s freakishly fast FLIGHTLINE could have his sights set on the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) later this fall. The 3-year-old son of Tapit is 2-for-2 lifetime for trainer John Sadler, and while he’s yet to run in a stakes race, has the country buzzing off both starts; a 13 ¼-length win at Santa Anita in April and 12 ¾-length optional-claiming win at Del Mar Sept.5. Flightline ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.05 at Del Mar while being geared down late, and the race has been rated by several speed figures as the fastest sprint race of the year. Sadler indicated that he’ll talk to Flightline’s owners about a potential start in the Sprint, which would be next.
“We wouldn’t run before the Breeders’ Cup,” Sadler said.
Countdown to the Breeders' Cup World Championships
A listing of the upcoming major stakes races this weekend:
$2 MILLION LONGINES BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF
September 18 – $400,000 Locust Grove (G3) at Churchill Downs. Run at 1 1/16 miles for fillies & mares.
$4 MILLION LONGINES BREEDERS’ CUP TURF
September 18 – $600,000 Pattison Canadian International (G1) at Woodbine. Run at 1 ½ miles on turf for 3yos & up.
$2 MILLION MAKER’S MARK BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY & MARE TURF
September 18 – $250,000 Canadian Stakes (G2) at Woodbine. Run at 1 1/8 miles on turf for fillies & mares.
$2 FANDUEL BREEDERS’ CUP MILE PRESENTED BY PDJF
September 18 – $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1) at Woodbine. Run at 1-mile on turf for 3yos & up.
$2 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT
September 18 – $200,000 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash (G3) at Laurel Park. Run at 6 furlongs for 3yos & up.
$2 MILLION TVG BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE PRESENTED BY THOROUGBRED AFTERCARE ALLIANCE
September 18 – $300,000 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs. Run at 1 1/16 miles for 2yos.
$2 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE FILLIES
September 18 – $300,000 Pocahontas (G3) at Churchill Downs. Run at 1 1/16 miles for 2yo fillies.
$1 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE TURF
September 19 – $400,000 Summer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine. Run at 1-mile on turf for 2yos.
$1 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
September 19 – $400,000 Natalma Stakes (G1) at Woodbine. Run at 1-mile on turf for 2yo fillies.
- October 24, 2021
“We were very saddened to learn today of the passing of Bob Neumeier. Bob was a big part of the NBC Breeders’ Cup World Championships broadcasts for many years as a handicapper, reporter and analyst. Bob brought his expertise of Thoroughbred racing and a great sense of humor to every show. We extend our sincere condolences to Bob’s wife Michele and to his extended family.”
- October 22, 2021
For good reason, much of the attention on the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) will be on the international runners who come to Del Mar for the 12-furlong contest. In the last decade, just three winners have hailed from the United States, with the other seven coming from Europe. Since 2000, that split is 16 Europe, six for America.
- October 22, 2021
Breeders' Cup Pre-Entry Announcement to be Televised Live on TVG and Streamed Live on Breederscup.com on Wednesday, October 27
Pre-entered fields for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be announced live on TVG along with the Breeders’ Cup website, Official Mobile App, and Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 8:30 a.m. PT/11:30 a.m. ET.