Stars on the Rise at Downs After Dark
Photo of Hidden Connection courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
Courtesy of Ren Carothers
Churchill Down’s Fall meet has commenced, and this past Saturday’s “Downs After Dark” program had fans tracking ascending stars. Two of the card’s three graded-stakes races featured two-year-olds in the hunt for Breeders’ Cup: Future Stars Friday “Win and You’re In” tickets, in addition to respective points on a scale of 10-4-2-1 toward the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.
In the G3 Pocahontas, a mile-and-a-sixteenth main track contest for juvenile fillies, we saw Hidden Connection, bred by St. Simon Place, owned by Hidden Brook Farm and Black Type Thoroughbreds, follow-up her 7-1/2 lengths, jaw-dropping debut at Colonial Downs with a 9-1/4 lengths tour de force. The Bret Calhoun trainee stopped the clock in 1:43.78 under jockey Reylu Gutierrez, more than a full second faster than Major General’s 1:44.88 one race later in equally distanced, G3 Iroquois, and she earned an 87 Beyer figure.
Hidden Connection is a first-crop representative of Lane’s End stallion Connect, a G1-winning, millionaire son of Hall of Famer, and Breeders’ Cup Classic champion, Curlin. In addition to scoring his sire’s namesake race, Connect won the G1 Cigar Mile Handicap, as well as the G2 Pennsylvania Derby. Hidden Connection’s dam, C J’s Gal, is a daughter of another Breeders’ Cup Classic champion in Awesome Again. She was unplaced, but is a full-sister to the stakes-placed C J’s Awesome, and out of the G2 placed C J’s Leelee, who was second in the Golden Rod as two-year-old. Additionally, C J’s Leelee is a half-sister to Capo Bastone, who was third behind Shanghai Bobby and He’s Had Enough in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but became a G1 winner at three-years-old, seizing the King’s Bishop at Saratoga.
As for the Iroquois, it was Major General, under the rein of Javier Castellano, who won the war after trading blows with the Steve Asmussen’s Stellar Tap, and digging in to fend off the oncoming Tough to Tame. The Todd Pletcher trainee, now a perfect two-for-two, was bred by Circular Road Breeders, and a $420,000 Keeneland September yearling. He is owned by WinStar Farm and Sienna Farm and a third-crop son of WinStar’s own Constitution. Constitution is multiple G1-winning, millionaire son of Tapit, and his résumé includes victories in the Florida Derby and Donn Handicap for the barn of Todd Pletcher himself. At stud, Constitution made headlines with his first crop, represented by the likes of Tiz the Law, who won the G1 Champagne at two, and went on a graded-stakes winning streak at three, prevailing in the G3 Holy Bull, G1 Florida Derby, G1 Belmont Stakes, and G1 Travers, before having to settle for 2nd in the rescheduled 2020 Kentucky Derby, and retiring after a 6th placed finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Despite not going out on a triumphant note, Tiz the Law clearly put together a tremendously impressive career.
In addition to being sons of Constitution, both Major General and Tiz the Law are out of mares by Breeders’ Cup Champions. In the latter’s case, that broodmare sire is our only two-time Classic hero: Hall of Famer Tiznow. As for Major General, he is out of No Mo Lemons, an unraced daughter of another Todd Pletcher trainee, Uncle Mo, who won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Eclipse honors. No Mo Lemons is a half-sister to a pair of stakes winners in Barbados Bob, a champion miler in Belgium, and Lemon Juice, who counts the Charles Town Juvenile and Laurel Futurity among his wins. The extended family also includes G1 heavy hitters such as Ashland victress Well Chosen, her son, two-time Sword Dancer Invitational winner Telling, and Clark Handicap victor Leofric. There are many other graded-stakes winners belonging to this tree, as well, but from a historical perspective, what one might find most intriguing is that, fittingly for a horse named Major General, the female family tails directly back to Mahubah, better known as the dam of one of the greatest horses of all-time, Man o’War, and great-great grandmother of Triple Crown champion Assault.
With pedigrees like the above, it will be exciting to see if Hidden Connection and Major General will continue to shine bright, journeying from the Downs after dusk to the where the turf meets the surf, Future Stars Saturday, November 5th, at Del Mar.
- 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.