Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Newsletter - September 24
Advisory: This is the fifth of nine weekly news releases focusing on the horses and races leading to the 37th Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, November 6 and Saturday, November 7 at Keeneland. 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.
Santa Anita Opens, Anchors Second-Busiest Challenge Weekend
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series kicks into high gear this weekend, as 11 automatic qualifiers for racing’s World Championships will be run, with Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, Calif., hosting seven on its Opening Weekend. The “Win and You’re In” action is not only coast-to-coast, with Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. hosting one race, but it’s a global affair as well, as Newmarket in Suffolk, England, and Hipodromo da Gavea in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil also get in on the action.
Air quality concerns due to the wildfires that broke out in the mountains above Santa Anita postponed the meet opener one week to this Friday, which means things will start off on a fevered pitch, as three of the seven “Win and You’re In” races are Grade 1’s. The highlight will be Saturday’s $250,000 Awesome Again (G1), which will award the winner an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). The five-horse field is headlined by Gary and Mary West and the Coolmore conglomerate of Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Mrs. John Magnier’s MAXIMUM SECURITY.
Run at 1 1/8 miles, the Awesome Again will mark Maximum Security’s third start for trainer Bob Baffert since being transferred from Jason Servis’ barn. The 4-year-old son of 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner New Year’s Day won the San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar in July and earned a free berth into the Classic when he won the “Win and You’re In” TVG Pacific Classic (G1) Aug. 22. Maximum Security is 10-for-12 lifetime, including a win in the inaugural Saudi Cup (G1) at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in February, and figures to be odd-on for the race.
Maximum Security’s price won’t be as short as initially thought however, as Baffert decided to run WinStar Farm, CHC Inc. and SF Racing’s IMPROBABLE, who would be odds-on himself, if not for his stablemate. The 4-year-old son of City Zip rates just a notch below his more heralded barnmate, as he qualified for the Classic when he won Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Whitney (G1) Aug. 1, to go along with the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita in June. Improbable, who was fifth in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last year at Santa Anita, is 6-for-13 lifetime
C R K Stable’s MIDCOURT was second to Maximum Security in the San Diego and third in the Pacific Classic, and will try him again for trainer John Shirreffs. The 5-year-old son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Midnight Lute is 5-for-13 lifetime and won the local San Pasqual (G2) in February. SLEEPY EYES TODD enters off a dominant 7 ½-length win in the Charles Town Classic (G2) on Aug. 28. The field is completed by California-bred TAKE THE ONE O ONE, who captured a 1-mile allowance optional claiming race at Del Mar in his last start on Aug. 22.
Quartet of Qualifiers Anchor Awesome Again Card
While the Awesome Again may get top billing, there are four other Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races Saturday at Santa Anita, with the $300,000 American Pharoah (G1) offering a starting berth into the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1), while the $300,000 Rodeo Drive (G1) Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, G1), $200,000 Chandelier (G2) (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, G1), and $100,000 Speakeasy (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint) also serve as automatic qualifiers.
The American Pharoah, run at 1 1/16 miles, is led by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Golconda Stables, Siena Farm, and Robert E. Masterson’s SPIELBERG, who will look for his first career victory for trainer Bob Baffert. The 2-year-old son of Union Rags was second on debut at Del Mar in August and then second in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) Sept. 7, and figures to improve a great deal as he’ll try two turns for the first time.
Pam and Marty Wygod’s homebred WASPIRANT, another son of Union Rags, got two turns in his second start and broke through with a maiden win at Del Mar Aug. 29 for trainer John Shirreffs. Others include WESTON, who won Del Mar’s Best Pal (G2) in August but was a distant third in the Runhappy Del Mar Futurity (G1), and NOTABLE EXCEPTION, an impressive Arlington Park debut winner.
The Rodeo Drive, at 1 ¼ miles, has seven entered in a race that could sort out the Southern California filly and mare turf ranks. Calvin Nguyen’s BODHICITTA (GB), a 4-year-old daughter of Showcasing (GB), won Del Mar’s Yellow Ribbon (G2) Aug. 8 for trainer Richard Baltas, while Slam Dunk Racing and James Branham’s MAXIM RATE, a 4-year-old daughter of Exchange Rate, won Del Mar’s Aug. 16 CTT and TOC Stakes for trainer Simon Callaghan. LADY PRANCELOT, winner of the last year’s American Oaks (G1) and second by a neck in the Sept. 5 John C. Mabee (G2) at Del Mar, along with stakes-placed runners CATCH THE EYE, MUCHO UNUSUAL and PRETTY POINT, have also been entered.
The Chandelier, at 1 1/16 miles, could have the strongest favorite of the weekend, as Zedan Racing Stables’ PRINCESS NOOR, who has been 3-5 in both starts for Baffert, will likely be as short as 1-5 when she tries two turns for the first time. The 2-year-old daughter of Not This Time easily won her debut at Del Mar in August then dominated the Sept. 6 Del Mar Debutante (G1) by 6 ½ lengths. Princess Noor, who cost $1.35 million at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training 2020, would further her status as the favorite for the Juvenile Fillies with another easy win. Princess Noor will face MAKE MISCHIEF, VARDA, ILLUMINATION, MISS COSTA RICA, and VARDA.
The Speakeasy, at 5 ½ furlongs, drew nine runners for an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2): THE GREAT ONE, NO PEDIGREE, BASQUE MAN, COMMANDER KHAI, AMANZI YIMPILO (IRE), FURY KAP, WYFIRE, WINDY CITY RED AND FEATHERS (IRE).
Zenyatta, Sprint Championship Close Out Weekend
Sunday’s “Win and You’re In” action sees the $200,000 Zenyatta (G2), which will award an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), and the $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2), which offers a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, close out the weekend.
The Zenyatta, at 1 1/16 miles, will be led by Gary and Mary West’s homebred FIGHTING MAD, who has won two straight for trainer Bob Baffert and already earned a Distaff berth when she won Del Mar’s Aug. 2 “Win and You’re In” Clement L. Hirsch (G1). The 4-year-old daughter of 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Winner New Year’s Day is 5-for-8 lifetime, including the local Santa Maria two-back in May, and looks like a strong favorite.
Michael Tabor and Alice Bamford’s HARVEST MOON, a daughter of 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Uncle Mo, who is 3-for-4 lifetime, will step up and face older stakes foes after beating fellow 3-year-old fillies in Del Mar’s Aug. 22 Torrey Pines (G3) for trainer Simon Callaghan, while multiple graded stakes winning sprinter HARD NOT TO LOVE will look to break a three-race losing for trainer John Shirreffs. HANG A STAR, MESSAGE, PROUD EMMA, and SHAGHAI TRUFFLES could also run in the “Win and You’re In” Zenyatta.
The Sprint Championship, at 6 furlongs, will be led by Dan Agnew, Rodney Orr, Jerry Schneider, and John Xitco’s COLLUSION ILLUSION, who already earned a Sprint bid when he won Del Mar’s Aug. 1 Bing Crosby (G1) for trainer Mark Glatt. The 3-year-old son of Twirling Candy beat fellow sophomores in the Laz Barrera (G3) at Santa Anita in June and is 5-for-6 lifetime. Stakes winners C Z ROCKET, who gained a “Win and You’re In” berth into the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) when he took the Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 29. DESERT LAW, FLAGSTAFF, and GIANT EXPECTATIONS could also start.
Belmont Tunes Up with Vosburgh
Belmont Park’s heavy lifting comes the weekend of Oct. 10, when it will offer five “Win and You’re In” races, but Saturday’s $150,000 Vosburgh (G2) gets them into the fray and will award an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Run at 6 furlongs, the Vosburgh has a six-horse field, with Ron Lombardi’s homebred FIRENZE FIRE among the favorites. The 5-year-old son of Poseidon’s Warrior, who been a sprint mainstay for the past several years and won the local True North (G2) in June for trainer Kelly Breen, is 11-for-28 lifetime, with $1.955 million in earnings.
Woodford Racing’s ENGAGE, who was last seen running fourth in the Sprint at Santa Anita in November, returns for trainer Steve Asmussen. The 5-year-old son of Into Mischief is 5-for-13 lifetime, including last October’s “Win and You’re In” Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland. Veteran sprinters FUNNY GUY, SHARE THE RIDE, STAN THE MAN, and TRUE TIMBER are also entered in the “Win and You’re In” Vosburgh.
Juveniles on Display at Newmarket
Newmarket kicks off the “Win and You’re In” weekend action Friday, with the $133,000 Shadwell Rockfel (G2), which will award an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, while Saturday’s $166,250 Juddmonte Royal Lodge (G2) will offer a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. In addition to serving as Breeders’ Cup qualifiers, both 1-mile races take on added significance as they are run over the same Rowley Mile course and distance as next May’s 1000 and 2000 Guineas (G1), the first two British Classics of the year.
The Rockfel drew a field of five, with Coolmore’s MONDAY, a 2-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock (AUS) who broke her maiden in her second career start at Leopardstown Sept. 12, trading as a slight 13-8 ante-post favorite for trainer Aidan O’Brien. Paul and Clare Rooney’s ISABELLA GILES (IRE) is right behind at 7-4 for trainer Clive Cox, and the daughter of Belardo (IRE) has an experience edge, as she’s 3-for-4 lifetime, including a win in the Prestige (G3) Aug. 29 at Goodwood. ALBA ROSE (GB), NAZUNA (IRE), and SANTOSHA (IRE) are also entered for the “Win and You’re In” Shadwell Rockfel.
China Horse Club International’s COBH (IRE) leads the five-horse field for the Royal Lodge. Trained by Clive Cox, Cobh has won two of his three starts, including the listed 1-mile Stonehenge Stakes at Salisbury on Aug. 21. Teme Valley 2’s GEAR UP (IRE) has won both of his starts at York for trainer Mark Johnston, and comes into the race off a half-length win in the 7-furlong Tattersalls Acomb Stakes (G3) on Aug. 19. Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s ONTARIO (IRE), trained by Aidan O’Brien, led the Aug. 22 Futurity Stakes (G2) at The Currragh until the final 50 yards, before finishing third, beaten 1 length.
Hipodromo to Offer Turf Bid
Sunday at Hipodromo da Gavea in Rio de Janeiro, the $200,000 Grande Premio Brasil (G1) will award an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Run at about 1 ½ miles, the Grande Premio drew a field of nine, with Stud Happy Again’s GEORGE WASHINGTON (BRZ) looking to repeat for trainer Luis Estevez. The 5-year-old son of Redattore (BRZ) will take on a field that also includes ABU DHABI (BRZ), GALAXY RUNNER, HARD BOILED (BRZ), HE’S GOLD (BRZ), MONDRAGON (BRZ), OLYMPIC IMPACT (BRZ), OLYMPIC IPSWICH (BRZ), and PIMPER’S PARADISE (BRZ).
Tiz the Law winning the Travers - Photo by Eclipse Sportswire
NEWS AND NOTES
Tiz the Law to Bypass Preakness, Train Up to Classic
Sackatoga Stable’s TIZ THE LAW, most recently second as the heavy favorite in Churchill Downs’ Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby, will skip Pimlico’s Oct. 3 Preakness, a “Win and You’re In” for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, and instead train up to the race, his trainer Barclay Tagg announced Sept. 22. The 3-year-old son of Constitution was 3-5 in the Derby off a trio of Grade 1 wins this year, including the Belmont in June, but couldn’t get by Authentic while suffering only his second career loss, with both coming at Churchill.
Tiz the Law, who is 6-for-8 lifetime, emerged from the Derby with light stiffness behind, which is not uncommon for the colt, according to his connections, but the decision was made to skip a trip to Baltimore and head to Keeneland for the Classic, which has long been the long-term goal.
“Since we have no shot at winning the Triple Crown, our big goal with this colt is of course the Breeders’ Cup,” Tagg said. “We really want to go into the Breeders’ Cup with a fresh, happy horse. He came out of his last race a little stiff, no real physical problems, but a little stiffness. We’ve taken our time coming back with him. Now he seems just right.”
Tagg indicated he would like to ship Tix the Law to Lexington with enough time to get one, and possibly even two, works over the Keeneland surface.
Arklow Expected to Train Up to Turf
Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger, and Peter Coneway’s ARKLOW, who won the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) at Kentucky Downs Sept. 12, is likely to make his next start in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The 6-year-old son of Arch broke a five-race losing streak dating back to last year’s Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) at Belmont Park for trainer Brad Cox, and is a familiar presence in the Turf, as he ran fourth in the race at Churchill Downs in 2018 and eighth in the race last year at Santa Anita. Arklow, who is 7-or-29 lifetime, could also run in this year’s Oct. 3 Hirsch, with Donegal owner Jerry Crawford and Cox mulling their options.
"For the last three days we've been talking about that," Crawford said. "We haven't made a final decision. If we had to decide today, he might train up to the Breeders' Cup."
COUNTDOWN TO THE BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
A listing of the upcoming major stakes races this weekend
LONGINES BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC
September 26 – $300,000 Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita. Run at 1 1/8 miles for 3yos & up.
September 27 – $200,000 Oklahoma Derby (G3) at Remington Park. Run at 1 1/8 miles for 3yos.
September 27 – $100,000 Canadian Derby (G3) at Century Mile Racetrack and Casino. Run at 1 ¼ miles for 3yos.
September 27 – $100,000 Tokyo City (G3) at Santa Anita. Run at 1 ½ miles for 3yos & up.
LONGINES BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF
September 27 – $200,000 Zenyatta (G2) at Santa Anita. Run at 1 1/16 miles for fillies & mares.
September 27 – $100,000 Remington Park Oaks (G3) at Remington Park. Run at 1 1/16 miles for 3yo fillies.
LONGINES BREEDERS’ CUP TURF
September 26 – John Henry Turf Championship (G2) at Santa Anita. Run at 1 ¼ miles on turf for 3yos & up.
MAKER’S MARK BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY & MARE TURF
September 26 – $300,000 Rodeo Drive (G1) at Santa Anita. Run at 1 ¼ miles on turf for fillies $ mares.
September 26 – $100,000 Noble Damsel (G3) at Belmont Park. Run at 1-mile on turf for fillies & mares.
BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT
September 26 – $150,000 Vosburgh (G2) at Belmont Park. Run at 6 furlongs for 3yos & up.
September 27 – $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2) at Santa Anita. Run at 6 furlongs for 3yos & up.
BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY & MARE SPRINT
September 25 – $100,000 Chillingworth (G3) at Santa Anita. Run at 6 1/2 furlongs for fillies & mares.
September 26 – $125,000 Ontario Fashion (G3) at Woodbine. Run at 6 12 furlongs for fillies & mares.
TVG BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE PRESENTED BY THOROUGBRED AFTERCARE ALLIANCE
September 26 – $300,000 American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita. Run at 1 1/16 miles for 2yos.
BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE FILLIES
September 26 – $200,000 Chandelier (G1) at Santa Anita. Run at 1 1/16 miles for 2yo fillies.
BIG ASS FANS BREEDERS’ CUP DIRT MILE
September 26 – $100,000 Ack Ack (G3) at Churchill Downs. Run at 1-mile for 3yos & up.
BREEDERS’ CUP TURF SPRINT
September 25 – $200,000 Eddie D. (G2) at Santa Anita. Run at five and a half furlongs on turf for 3yos & up.
BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE TURF SPRINT
September 26 – $365,750 Juddmonte Middle Park (G1) at Newmarket. Run at 6 furlongs on turf for 2yos.
September 26 – $365,750 Juddmonte Cheveley Park (G1) at Newmarket. Run at 6 furlongs on turf for 2yo fillies.
MAJOR STAKES RECAP | Sept. 19-20
A review of the major global races in the corresponding Breeders’ Cup divisions from last week. Winning jockeys’ names are in parenthesis in each recap. The top Breeders’ Cup Points' leaders and Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners by division are listed at the end of each section. Breeders’ Cup Point earners are limited to horses who finish first, second or third in Graded Stakes races. Horses based outside of the U.S., who have not won a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, are selected into World Championships races by the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel at the Pre-Entry stage, Oct. 26. An asterisk in the points section denotes a foreign contender. A complete Breeders’ Cup Points list is available here.
Countdown to the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF – Blue Heaven Farm’s STARSHIP JUBILEE (Justin Stein) powered home through the stretch and earned an automatic starting berth into the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF with a 1-length win over MARCH TO THE ARCH in the $1 million “Win and You’re In” Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1). Kevin Attard trained the winner, a 7-year-old daughter of Indy Wind who became just the third filly or mare to win the Woodbine Mile since the race switched to the turf in 1997. Starship Jubilee has been one of the best stories on the track since she was claimed by her current connections for $16,000 at Gulfstream Park in 2017, as she’s gone on to win nine graded stakes, including last year’s local E.P. Taylor (G1). She’s now 19-for-38 lifetime, with over $2 million in earnings, is 5-for-6 this year, and figures a leading contender for either the Mile, or the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Trainer Mark Casse ran 2-3, respectively, with Live Oak Plantation’s homebred March to the Arch and Gary Barber’s favored WAR OF WILL. The former, who won the local King Edward (G2) Aug. 15, is a Mile candidate, as is the latter, who won the Preakness last year and the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland July 10. Video
FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile presented by PDJF - Breeders’ Cup Challenge (BCC) Winners and Points Leaders
- January 21, 2021
The $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) is set to take place Saturday at Gulfstream Park, with a field of 12 entered to run the nine-furlong race.
- January 21, 2021
The $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday drew a field of 12, with trainers Shug McGaughey, Mike Maker, and Todd Pletcher each entering more than one horse.
- January 14, 2021
The 2021 California Cup races have been drawn for the January 16 card at Santa Anita Park. There are five stakes races for California-breds scheduled on a 10-race card, with the $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic Stakes topping the action as Race 9.