Imperador, Gear Jockey Earn Breeders' Cup Berths With Kentucky Downs Wins
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Courtesy of Bloodhorse/America's Best Racing
Last year trainer Paulo Lobo, jockey Joe Talamo, and owners Bonne Chance Farm and Stud R D I went to the Breeders' Cup with Ivar, who finished fourth in the Grade 1 FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile Presented by PDJF at Keeneland.
Now they are Breeders' Cup-bound again with another South American import in Imperador —this time for the Nov. 6 Grade 1 Longines Breeders' Cup Turf at Del Mar. Their horse qualified for the $4 million race Sept. 11 by outlasting Arklow by a head Sept. 11 in the Grade 2 Calumet Turf Cup Stakes at Kentucky Downs, a race added this year to the Breeders' Cup Challenge series.
Though the Calumet Turf Cup had the potential to be worth $1 million Saturday, its official purse was $715,105, largely owing to the winner being bred in Argentina. A large chunk—$450,000—of the race's listed purse was available only to Kentucky-breds, leaving the winner to race for $550,000, about half the potential purse.
Many of his opponents, however, didn't run half as well as he did. Eighth early, Imperador swooped to the lead in midstretch with an eye-catching rally, and just managed to hold off Arklow after the latter found clear sailing after being shut off in midstretch.
Imperador raced 1 1/2 miles on a firm turf course in a course record 2:25.70 following splits of :48.60, 1:13.15 and 1:36.96, set first by Epic Bromance and later by Channel Cat. The 5-year-old by Treasure Beach returned $19.20 to win for a $2 wager, and $317,130 to his winning owners.
Talamo said he was proud of his mount, who showed him "a good turn of foot," withstanding a two-time winner of the race in 2-1 favorite Arklow.
"(Arklow) was coming pretty quick, but hats off to my horse, he did it all," the rider added.
Florent Geroux, aboard Arklow, was left to wonder what might have been with better luck. He felt great about his chances approaching the stretch, saving ground and picking off opponents in Arklow's advance from ninth.
"I thought I had the speed turning for home, and those horses came back at us quick. I had to take a hold and come around, and it was too late," he noted. "The winner went all the way around. If I split horses and get through, they'll tell me it's a great ride. I didn't. I got squeezed, and it's a bad ride."
Glynn County ran third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Arklow, and was followed by Ajourneytofreedom in fourth. Epic Bromance ran fifth and second choice Channel Cat sixth in the 12-horse lineup.
The victory from Imperador followed a runner-up finish in the 1 3/8-mile Grade 1 United Nations Stakes this summer at Monmouth Park in which he came from farther off the pace than he did when weakening to sixth in the Grade 3 Louisville Stakes a start before.
"I was expecting a huge effort, Lobo said. "He ran good at Churchill, the first time running a mile and a half here in America. He ran very good in New Jersey and he was doing very good for this race."
Lobo, who previously trained in California, said he is excited to send his horse out west for a crack at the Breeders' Cup Turf.
"In the Breeders' Cup we are going to be in deeper waters, but this horse I think is peaking at the right time," he said. "I think he is going to enjoy Del Mar. South American horses also like Del Mar.
Imperador was a multiple group 1 winner in Argentina before coming to the United States in 2020. He provided his connections with a second stakes victory at Kentucky Downs this week after In Love won the Sept. 8 TVG Stakes.
"We have a very good team behind us here with Paulo and all the crew at his barn who did an excellent job to bring those two horses in top condition," said Alberto Figueiredo, CEO of Bonne Chance Farm. "And also, all the people in South America deserve some credit as well to develop those horses into being champions. And they're proving it here.
"Imagine, we're bringing three horses and three are stakes winners: Ivar, grade 1 (2020 Shadwell Turf Mile), Imperador, grade 2, and In Love wins here. That's a huge accomplishment for a South American stable with just a couple handful of mares."
Bred by Haras Rio Dois Irmaos S.R.L., Imperador is one of five winners from as many foals out of the Danehill mare Duchess Royale. Imperador, who improved his record to 4-4-0 from 14 starts and earnings to $538,268, is the dam's lone stakes winner.
Treasure Beach, a son of Galileo who stands at Pleasant Acres Stallions in Florida, has shuttled to Argentina for numerous South American breeding seasons. -Byron King
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