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2 days, 7 countries, 14 races, 183 horses, $28 million in purse money – the 37th Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Breaking News: Installed as the 3-1 favorite in the Breeders Cup Sprint, Vekoma spiked a fever Tuesday night and trainer George Weaver announced Wednesday the colt will not run. The 4yo son of Candy Ride will likely be retired, Weaver said. Spendthrift Farm holds stallion rights to Vekoma.
Wednesday was a busy day at Keeneland with the remainder of contenders arriving by 10 a.m. and settling in including the quarantined overseas contingent. There were workouts on the turf and main tracks, and schooling in the saddling paddock and gate.
Thursday, Keeneland will be abuzz with energy and anticipation of the ‘Stars of Tomorrow’ day on Friday as our juvenile class shines on the turf and main track. Remember the names. One of these horses could be your Kentucky Derby winner.
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Your Breeders’ Cup World Championships Contenders Update
》For a rundown of the eight supporting stake of both days click here.
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Morale in the European barn was high as Keeneland enjoyed a much warmer morning on Wednesday. Aidan O’Brien’s horses cleared quarantine Wednesday evening and will train in Thursday morning. The Ballydoyle team has decided to train on the main track.
The remaining European horses all went out Wednesday morning to exercise except for Cadillac (IRE) (Juvenile Turf) and One Master (GB) (Mile) who stayed in the barn.
Kameko (Mile) was once again the first horse to leave the quarantine barn and head out onto the main track. He was followed by the John Gosden-trained trio of Lord North (IRE) (Turf), Mehdaayih (GB) (Turf) and Terebellum (IRE) (Filly & Mare Turf) who went out on to the training track. They trotted around the track and then cantered two circuits.
Ralph Beckett was again on track and led his two Juvenile Turf hopefuls Devilwala (IRE) and New Mandate (IRE) on his pony. Race day jockey Rossa Ryan again rode Deviwala and reported him to be in “good form.”
Safe Voyage (IRE) (Mile) was led on to the track by trainer John Quinn’s son Sean who was on a pony. He cantered a circuit of the training track and was once again ridden by race day jockey Jason Hart who reported Safe Voyage “felt very well in himself.”
John Quinn, who was trackside, said: “It’s just brilliant to be here at Breeders Cup. It one of the great race meetings in the world and to have a runner is great. Jason Hart was pleased with him and I thought he looked well. He seems to have really settled in now and is happy in himself. I’m really looking forward to Saturday. He’s got a heart of a lion so I’m sure he’ll give it his all as he always does.”
The Lir Jet (IRE) (Juvenile Turf) cantered a circuit of the training track and was overseen by trainer Michael Bell and his son Nick. The horse looked in great shape and Bell said, “that was good. Very happy, all systems go for Friday.”
Miss Amulet (IRE) (Juvenile Fillies Turf), Siskin (Mile) and Tarnawa (IRE) (Turf) went out together onto the training track then branched off to exercise by themselves. All three had a trot and a canter and looked well.
Andrew Duff representing trainer Ger Lyons said, “Siskin is good. He’s fresh and well. He’s relaxed which is very important.”
Glass Slippers (GB) (Turf Sprint) exercised on the turf track under race day jockey Tom Eaves. The two cantered a full circuit with Eaves reporting “She’s in great form, really happy with her. The turf track rode great. It’s beautiful ground, genuine lovely, good ground.”
Audarya (FR) (Filly & Mare Turf) also went on the turf track under the watchful eye of trainer James Fanshawe. She did a nice canter around the track under regular work rider Geoffrey De La Sayette.
Ubettabelieveit (IRE) (Juvenile Turf Sprint) was ridden by race day jockey Rowan Scott on the turf. They did a solid canter down the backstretch then did a breeze up the straight. Trainer Nigel Tinkler who was watching on from a pony said, “Good. He has had a nice little blow out there. Rowan said he handed the bends fine which is important. It just brilliant to be here. Everyone at Breeders’ Cup has given us a great welcome and I’m very grateful to everyone who has helped us get here. Thursday we’ll do a light canter on the training track and that will put him spot on for Friday.”
Hollie Doyle is at Keeneland to ride Mighty Gurkha (IRE) (Juvenile Turf Sprint) on the turf track. Doyle who has had an outstanding season back in the UK reported “I’m delighted to be here for my first Breeders’ Cup. He felt great so I’m really excited now.”
FRIDAY, NOV. 6
☆ $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint
Race 6, post time 2:30 p.m. ET
Bodenheimer – Kristin Boice and Marylou Holden’s Bodenheimer, winner of the Indian Summer at Keeneland Oct. 4, arrived on the grounds Tuesday morning and galloped 1 1/2m Wednesday.
“He went very well and is a tiger right now,” said trainer Valorie Lund, who is based at Ashwood Training Center, 10 miles northeast of Keeneland.
Bodenheimer has frequently made the crosstown commute for Keeneland workouts.
“A lot of 2-year-olds can’t take the pressure of all the change,” Lund said. “When he came here Tuesday, he rolled in his stall and just looked around. He is a very low-key horse, but he is very strong on the racetrack. He is a mellow guy and not a worrier.”
He is scheduled to jog 1m when the track opens Thursday and possibly school in the saddling paddock after training hours.
Lund recognized Bodenheimer’s potential when he was a yearling at the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association mixed sale last year and purchased him for $27,000.
“Overall, he was a really good individual,” Lund recalled. “He favors the (broodmare sire) A.P. Indy line when I looked at his head, neck and shoulders. He was stout as a yearling but sleeker now as a racehorse.”
Another attraction was his Grade 2-winning sire and 2010 Sentient Jets Breeders’ Cup Sprint participant, Atta Boy Roy, who Lund had both trained and exercised throughout his career. Bodenheimer’s dam is stakes winner and stakes producer Beautiful Daniele, whose pedigree page includes 1997 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner and champion Countess Diana. Lund and her team thought so highly of Bodenheimer that they purchased his dam privately before his first start.
Bodenheimer is named for Lund’s brother-in-law and Kristin’s husband Entz Bodenheimer Boice. Both are called “Bo” by those who know them.
Lund has relocated to Kentucky year-round after being based at Turf Paradise in Arizona each winter and at summer meets such as Canterbury Park in Minnesota. She grew up as a horse lover in Oregon before finding her way to the racetrack as an exercise rider. She still rides the stable pony during morning training but no longer is aboard the racers after undergoing double knee replacement. Her favorite memories in the saddle include competing in The Great American Horse Race, a 99-day cross-country endurance ride in 1976 in celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial.
Second of July – Bryan Hilliard’s Second of July galloped over the Keeneland main track Wednesday morning in preparation for a start in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, in which he will seek to remain undefeated in three career starts.
The Phil Gleaves-trained homebred gelding caught bettors by surprise in his debut at Belmont Park Sept. 20 when he scored a half-length victory at 68-1 in a 6f maiden special weight race on turf.
“We never had him on the grass. He never trained on it. He’s bred for the grass, so we knew he would like it. We ran him on it and he lit up the board,” Gleaves said.
The Kentucky-bred gelding validated that upset in his next start when he captured the 6f Futurity with a four-wide drive Oct. 11.
“Obviously, this is a tougher race than the Futurity, although a couple of them in there ran in the Futurity,” Gleaves said. “But I do see him move forward again the way he’s training here. He seems very sharp.”
The homebred gelded son of Jack Milton has rallied under Dylan Davis to win both of his races, and Gleaves expects he will use similar tactics Friday.
“I imagine he’ll be in the second flight. He’s a pretty tractable horse,” he said. “Dylan will have to work out a trip from there. The biggest obstacle will be the 14 horses going 5 ½ [furlongs]. It’ll be a cavalry charge.”
Gleaves, a former assistant to legendary Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens, is currently training a stable of eight.
“This is the last one I’m running for this season. I go to Ocala for the winter. I’ll go back to Saratoga in May,” Gleaves said. “I break babies in Ocala. I’ll give him and a few others a break and bring them back to Saratoga in May. They’ll run at Belmont.”
Momos – A surface switch, from dirt to grass, suited Momos and turned him into a candidate for the Juvenile Turf Sprint.
The chestnut colt purchased for $180,000 at the OBS March 2-year-old sale by Ironhorse Racing Stable and Secure Investments used a close third in the Futurity at Belmont Park on Oct. 11 to warrant a try in the Breeders’ Cup. Trainer Christophe Clement won with him first time out on the dirt at Saratoga but experimented with the Distorted Humor colt in the Futurity after he was third, beaten 7 lengths in the Saratoga Special.
“I galloped him on the turf in Saratoga on the infield,” said Roger Horgan, Clement’s exercise rider and assistant. “Christophe thought that if he does take to the turf it’s going to open up a lot more options. He gave it a whirl. He’s very, very fast, this horse. He’s not big but he’s just your typical early type 2-year-old. Great mind and he looks terrific.”
Momos’ flight from New York on Monday was delayed by heavy wind in the Northeast. He shipped to Lexington on Tuesday and Horgan took him to the track Wednesday morning.
“He’s just an absolutely uncomplicated lovely little horse to be around,” Horgan said. “He went for a jog on the main track today and paddock schooled. Didn’t turn a hair. He’s like an older horse.”
Regular rider Manny Franco will be up for the race Friday.
☆ $1 Million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf presented by Coolmore America (G1)
Race 7, post time 3:10 p.m. ET
Ebeko (IRE) – Irish-bred Ebeko enters the Juvenile Turf presented by Coolmore America off a victory in California’s main prep for the race, the Zuma Beach over 1m at Santa Anita. After three starts in Ireland for Paddy Twomey – including a second to fellow Juvenile Turf entrant Cadillac at second asking – the son of Irish 2000 Guineas winner Awtaad was acquired by trainer Peter Miller, who put together an ownership team of Altamira Racing Stable, CYBT, Marc Lantzman & Michael Nentwig. In two Stateside starts, he was second in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf before his aforementioned Zuma Beach win. Both races were over a two-turn mile, which he will once again contest Friday. Ebeko drew post 10 of 14 and will be ridden by Flavien Prat.
“He’s a really cool horse,” Miller said. “He’s got a really great way about him and he tries really hard. He’s just a really nice horse to train and be around and he does seem to be getting better with time. Certainly on speed figures and on things of that nature, he might be overlooked, but I think he’s going to run a big race.”
Prat seeks his fourth Breeders’ Cup win, while Miller aims for a sixth.
Gretzky the Great – Gretzky the Great is seeking his fourth consecutive victory and second in the Grade 1 ranks after capturing the Summer at Woodbine on Sept. 20 in his most recent start.
Trainer Mark Casse suspected early on that the son of 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and champion Nyquist was something special.
“He showed early that he was above average,” he said. “I grade my young horses A, B, C, D. I grade on how they move and how they act. He was an A from the beginning. On a scale of one to 10 – with 10 being a super mover – he is a nine or 10. He is a great moving horse.”
Gretzky the Great went unsold on a final bid of $295,000 at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale. He subsequently was purchased privately by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber. Runner-up on turf in his career debut in July, Gretzky the Great then scored three wins on all-weather and grass surfaces while racing exclusively at Woodbine.
The colt is named for Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky. Nyquist is named for National Hockey League player Gustav Nyquist.
Outadore – Breeze Easy LLC’s Outadore has done little wrong in two starts for trainer Wesley Ward, winning on debut at Saratoga going 5½f in July and then taking the rich Juvenile Turf Sprint over 6½f in September at Kentucky Downs. The son of Outwork will break from post eight under Jose Ortiz in Friday’s Juvenile Turf presented by Coolmore America, while attempting to give Ward his second win in the race following Hootenanny’s 2014 tally.
“He’s a really nice colt and is breezing well,” Ward said. “He’s been working with (G1 winner) Campanelle and is coming into the race doing well. He’s ready for this race, but he’ll eventually go to the dirt. I see no problem with the extra distance.”
Outadore was a $290,000 Keeneland September 2019 yearling purchase.
Public Sector – A son of Kingman, Europe’s champion 3yo of 2014 and top-tier sire in Europe, Klaravich Stables’ Public Sector enters Friday’s Juvenile Turf sponsored by Coolmore America off just two races, including a debut win at Saratoga over 1 1/16m on turf, followed by a second by 2 lengths in the Pilgrim Stakes. Favored in both, he overcome a bad start in the debut to win, but could not heat up in time to conquer a glacial pace set by Fire At Will in the latter.
On Friday, he drops back in distance to the 1m Juvenile Turf and returns to two turns. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides from post four of 14.
“He drew a nice post and I don’t mind a little cutback for that horse,” trainer Chad Brown said. “It looks like there’s some pace in there from first glance. He should be able to work out a good trip from there. He’s following a pattern, like (Juvenile Fillies Turf runner) Editor at Large, that has led to success in these two races for us. They seem to be coming into their best race in their third race.”
Ortiz Jr. seeks his 10th Breeders’ Cup win, but his first in this race, while Brown will look to win the race for the second consecutive year after Structor’s victory in 2019 at Santa Anita.
Race 8, post time 3:50 p.m. ET
Dayoutoftheoffice – The unbeaten daughter of Into Mischief had a scheduled walk day Tuesday morning headed back to the track Wednesday after having a walk day and galloped twice around the Keeneland main track.
“She’s great,” trainer and co-owner Tim Hamm said. “We’re not going to change anything now.”
A Breeders’ Cup win can be a life-altering achievement in its own right but Dayoutoftheoffice has already provided Hamm one the pinnacle achievements of his career. The Ohio native, who has won 1,350 races to date, got to celebrate his first Grade 1 victory when Dayoutoftheoffice defeated fellow Juvenile Fillies entrant Vequist by 2 lengths in the Oct. 10 Frizette Stakes at Belmont Park.
Dayoutoftheoffice has won each of her three career starts including scores in the Schuylerville and Frizette.
“It’s kind of crazy that one horse with ability can change a lot of things for you and give you a little brighter future,” Hamm said. “It just kind of happens. I guess if it happens early on and you haven’t done it in a long time, it would probably be a big buzz and it really is still a big buzz. But it’s very good, it’s great for our staff, it’s important to all of us. You put that many hours into something, that much hard work, you kind of expect it to happen at some point. I probably work approximately 20 hours a day at this trade…so it becomes something that you expect to happen at some point.”
Though trainer Tim Hamm is hoping Dayoutoftheoffice gives him his first Breeders’ Cup win as a conditioner, Hamm has been part of the World Championships previously as part owner of multiple graded stakes winner Too Much Bling, who finished sixth in the 2006 Sprint. The Ohio native also owns Dayoutoftheoffice along with Siena Farm, a relationship that first got its roots a handful of years ago.
“Jeff Hazlett from Taylor Made Farm introduced me to Nacho (Patino) and David Pope and Anthony (Manganaro) and they are just the easiest to work with,” Hamm said. “We did a couple yearlings together probably going back five or six years ago and one of them was a 2-year-old filly named Velvet Mood who was undefeated at 2 and, though she didn’t reach this level, she broke her maiden and won a stakes in Canada. We ended up selling her privately and I think that got the relationship off to a good start. Each year we’ve done one or two yearlings together and of course, we have Dayoutoftheoffice now.”
Girl Daddy – Undefeated Girl Daddy and Dale Romans’ three other Breeders’ Cup entrants (Sittin On Go, Sally’s Curlin and Mr Freeze) galloped 1 ½ m at Keeneland Tuesday morning. The quartet arrived at Keeneland Monday after training at Churchill Downs. Girl Daddy, winner of the Pocahantas at Churchill on Sept. 3, had her final Breeders’ Cup tune-up on Oct. 30 at Churchill with a 4f breeze in 48 1/5.
“I feel horses need to have a work over some tracks before they run, but I don’t think Keeneland is that kind of track,” Romans said. “Plus, they are living in their home at Churchill and I have all of my staff there.”
Girl Daddy jogged at Keeneland Wednesday morning while Romans’ other Breeders’ Cup entrants – Sittin On Go (Juvenile), Mr Freeze (Dirt Mile) and Sally’s Curlin all galloped 1 ½m.
Girl Daddy thus far has lived up to the high expectations of her connections as she seeks to extend her undefeated record to three in the Juvenile Fillies. The Albaugh Family Stables was among those recognizing her untapped talent and purchased her for $500,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September yearling sale.
“She was on everybody’s top list since the day they put a saddle on her,” trainer Dale Romans said. “From Day One, I heard from the people breaking her how good she was. And when she came to my barn and she worked, it was obvious that they were right. She is pure, natural talent.”
Princess Noor – Unbeaten Princess Noor has barely been challenged while winning her three career starts by a combined 17¼ lengths and is in position to claim the 2yo filly title in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
The daughter of Not This Time shipped from California with her Bob Baffert stablemates Tuesday and went to the track Wednesday morning. She galloped 1m under exercise rider Humberto Gomez.
Princess Noor was purchased in April for $1,350,000 the sale-topper at the OBS 2yo sale, by Amr Zedan, who operates Zedan Racing Stables. She is named after Zedan’s wife, Princess Noor bint Asem of Jordan. The filly is out of the Grade 3-winning Wilko mare Sheza Smoke Show.
Regular rider Victor Esponiza will be aboard the 9-5 morningline favorite, who will leave from the outside post in the field of seven.
Simply Ravishing – Harold Lerner, Magdalena Racing and Nehoc Stables’undefeated Simply Ravishing, who comes into the Juvenile Fillies off a 6 ¼-length victory in Keeneland’s Alcibiades, has settled back into her local stall after completing her final major preparations at Churchill Downs Tuesday.
“She’s another really talented filly,” McPeek said. “(Jockey) Robby (Albarado) worked her for me over at Churchill (Saturday). She came over Sunday and has had good gallops here. She’s a tough filly to gallop. She likes to put her head down and really pull. But, she’s doing really good. She’s back here at the scene of her Alcibiades. She’s keeping a pretty similar training pattern to Swiss Skydiver. Just basic gallops.”
Vequist – Though she is just three starts into her career, Vequist has developed a reputation among her caretakers as a filly who thrives on her work. The Grade 1 winning-daughter of Nyquist has done nothing to dispel that notion since arriving at Keeneland as she put in an energetic appearance over the track Tuesday morning during her gallop under exercise rider Teresa Hagemeier.
As has been the case during their time at Keeneland, assistant trainer Ginny Reid was left beaming Wednesday morning as she watched Grade 1 winner Vequist display much vigor as she galloped twice around the Keeneland oval under Hagemeier.
“Teresa said she was very tough when a horse came by her the first time around, she wanted to go with her,” said Reid, who is overseeing Vequist for her husband and trainer Butch Reid while he tends to their string at Parx this week. “She’s training excellent. I couldn’t be any happier. The first two days, the exercise rider came back and said, ‘She loves this track.’”
Vequist broke her maiden with a 9 ½-length win in the Spinaway on Sept. 6 and was second last time out to Dayoutoftheoffice in the Frizette.
The strong-bodied filly will be trying two turns for the first time when she starts in the 1 1/16m Juvenile Fillies on Friday. How a young horse handles added distance is always a question mark until they dive into such waters, but trainer Butch Reid says Vequist has been tipping her hand all along that a route of ground ultimately bring out her best run.
“You never really know especially when you’re starting them out at shorter distances, but when the breezes started stretching out is when we knew that she was something special,” said Reid, who has his wife Ginny overseeing Vequist’s preparations this week while he tends to his string at Parx. “The first time I breezed her out of the gate, she went a half mile in 48 and then five-eighths in a minute, then three quarters in 1:12 and then galloped out seven-eighths in 1:25 and change. So we had a pretty good indication we had something on our hands.”
Vequist broke her maiden with a 9 ½-length win in the Spinaway Sept. 6 and was second last time out to Dayoutoftheoffice in the Frizette.
“I mean one of the favorites, Dayoutoftheoffice, I thought she was very competitive with her with a tricky post positon (on the rail),” Butch Reid said. “She didn’t get the best trip in the Frizette so I’m feeling very good that we’re very competitive in here.”
☆ $1 Million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1)
Race 9, post time 4:30 p.m. ET
Alda, Invincible Gal (Graham Motion) – Trainer Graham Motion is scheduled to seek a second straight victory in the Juvenile Fillies Turf Friday at Keeneland, where he’s set to saddle two starters, Wertheimer and Frere’s Alda and Michael Ryan, Jeff Drown and Team Hanley’s Invincible Gal for the mile turf race.
Motion saddled Sharing for a 1 ¼-length victory in the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita last year.
Alda galloped 1 1/2m on the training track Wednesday morning, while Invincible Gal galloped 1 1/2m on the main track at Keeneland.
Alda debuted with males June 12 at Belmont Park, where she rallied from last to finish a fast-closing third in a 5f turf sprint. The daughter of Munnings came back four weeks later to graduate, defeating fillies by 2 ½ lengths in a 6f turf sprint at Belmont.
Alda was shipped to Woodbine for two stakes starts. She won the 6f Catch a Glimpse by a nose with a determined rally before finishing second in the Sept. 20 Natalma, less than a length behind the winner.
“I thought she bounced a little bit in the Natalma,” Motion said. “She ran a huge race in the race before. Ideally, I would have liked more spacing, but I wanted to run her in those races, and that would give her more time to freshen up for this race.”
Invincible Gal, an English-bred daughter of Invincible Spirit, debuted with a late-closing victory in a 5 ½f turf sprint at Saratoga Aug. 7. She encountered bumping at the start of the Sorority at Monmouth a month later but rallied to finish second, beaten by less than a length. She set a pressured pace over a yielding turf course before settling for second in the Selima at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard last time out.
“She was second on really soft turf at Pimlico, the likes of which we’ll never run on again. It was very soft. I thought she hung in there pretty well to run as well as she did,” Motion said. “She hasn’t done anything wrong. She broke her maiden at Saratoga and has been second twice.”
Aunt Pearl (IRE) –The undefeated Jessamine winner Aunt Pearl schooled in the starting gate Wednesday and galloped over the main track in preparation for Friday’s race.
“She was very good, very professional,” trainer Brad Cox said. “I was happy with what I saw.”
The Irish-bred filly was purchased at the Tattersalls yearling sale for just over $350,000 last October and sent to the United States where she is a perfect two for two.
“She’s been good from day one,” Cox said. “She was an expensive yearling at Tattersalls last year. She showed she had ability from the start. She’s a very fast filly. She’s definitely lived up to expectations you could say.”
Campanelle, Royal Approval (Wesley Ward) – Group 1 winner Campanelle will bring top-level form from both sides of the Atlantic into the Juvenile Fillies Turf for trainer Wesley Ward. A daughter of top-tier Irish sire Kodiac, she wears the Stonestreet Stables silks and took them to victory in the Prix Morny over 6f at Deauville, Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot and a Gulfstream Park maiden to kickstart her career. On Friday, she tackles two extra furlongs and breaks from post 9 under Frankie Dettori.
“She’s got a lot of class,” Ward said. “She has this big, long stride and is a big filly, so I think the mile will be fine. We almost ran her again after the Morny, but it was a little close from race to race and I had ried that before with Lady Aurelia and it didn’t work out. So, we decided to give her all this time to prepare and she’s doing great.”
Ward also starts Three Chimneys Farm homebred Royal Approval, who has raced four times with two victories, including the Matron Stakes at Belmont last out over six furlongs. She, too, is a Royal Ascot alumna and steps up in trip by two furlongs on Friday. She breaks just outside her stablemate in post 10 of 14 under Irad Ortiz Jr.
“She won going away at Kentucky Downs and she ran a great race at Belmont,” Ward said. “I just think with her it may depend on the ground, but there’s a lot of sunshine right now, so hopefully that dries the course. That will help her.”
Editor At Large – Hoping to become the second daughter of Lope de Vega to land the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in Kentucky for trainer Chad Brown (following 2018’s Newspaperofrecord), Editor At Large makes her third career start in said affair, having won on debut at Saratoga going 1 1/16 miles on grass and then finishing third in the Miss Grillo last out on Oct. 4. The Irish-bred will have to overcome the outside post 14 and will be guided by Javier Castellano, whose two Juvenile Fillies Turf winners both came for Brown, Rushing Fall in 2017 and New Money Honey in 2016.
“We took a shot and entered her,” Brown said. “It was up in the air after the third in the Miss Grillo if she could even get into the race and then, if so, what we wanted to do based on our training. She’s really stepped forward and is training super since the Grillo, so we thought it made sense to at least enter her and give it a shot because I think she’s really coming forward. Then we drew this disastrous post. She’s going to have to work out a trip from there. I need to handicap the race a little more and talk to Javier about it. It’s his first time on her and we’ll see what he feels is the best strategy.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. and Manny Franco rode the chestnut filly in her first two starts.
Madone – Kaleem Shah’s Madone is “going into the deep water now” in Friday’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf according to trainer Simon Callaghan.
Perfect in three starts, all at the Juvenile Fillies Turf distance of 1m, Madone will break from post nine Friday under regular rider Flavien Prat.
“The nine is a perfect spot for her because she comes from off the pace,” Callaghan said.
Madone has not been a surprise to Callaghan, nor her backers who have made her the favorite in her past two starts.
“We were always really high on her,” Callaghan said. “She was a little green in her debut but still won and then she made the natural progression to stakes at Del Mar and Santa Anita.
“But now the waters get deeper and you have no way to compare the competition.”
Plum Ali – Three wins with three jocks at three tracks has carried Plum Ali to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with a bit of a reputation. She is rated at 4-1, the co-second choice on the morning line.
The chestnut daughter of First Samurai trained by Christophe Clement for Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables won her debut at Saratoga in late July and followed that success with a victory in the Mint Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 7. She overcame a difficult start at Kentucky Downs to post a decisive 2¾-length win. Plum Ali kept her record perfect with a 2 ½-length win in the Miss Grillo Oct. 4 at Belmont Park.
“She’s a throwback,” said Clement’s assistant and exercise rider Roger Horgan said Wednesday. “She’s absolutely uncomplicated. Today was her first day at the track and it was like she has been her all her life. She feels fabulous. There is no reason to think that she won’t fire her best. Whether it’s good enough, we’ll find out. Couldn’t be any happier.”
Horgan said it was evident early on that Plum Ali had star potential.
“Before she ever ran we were pretty confident,” he said. “Those special ones, the cream rises to the top. Right from Day One, everything she did she did with ease and did it in such an uncomplicated fashion.”
Joel Rosario, who was up for the win at Saratoga, has the mount in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Spanish Loveaffair – Spanish Loveaffair comes to the Juvenile Fillies Turf off a runner-up effort behind Aunt Pearl (IRE) in the Jessamine on Keeneland’s turf on Oct. 7. In her early training, she was average but she moved to a higher standing when she made her career debut.
“I grade my young horses A, B, C, D and Spanish Loveaffair was probably a C,” trainer Mark Casse said. “Her training on dirt leaves a little to be desired but the way she broke her maiden, I thought she could be something special.”
Casse was referring to her debut in July when she cruised to an 11-length victory at Gulfstream Park. She returned to that same grass course the next month to win the Sharp Susan in her only other start.
Spanish Loveaffair drew the 12 post in the field of 14.
“We could have had a little better post but we’ll take it,” Casse said.
Spanish Loveaffair was sold at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $35,000 and now races for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Michael Hernon and Gary Barber.
☆ $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G1)
Race 10, post time 5:15 p.m. ET
Classier – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert called the decision to enter Classier in the Juvenile a bold move. The Empire Maker colt has made just one start, but he was impressive, breaking his maiden by 4 four lengths Oct. 24 at Santa Anita.
Baffert and the ownership group of six partners elected to try Classier, in the Juvenile, which has never been won by a horse in its second career start. Two weeks after his facile 6 ½f victory, he will be trying two turns for the first time at 1 1/16m.
“He’s lightly raced, but he could be a superstar,” Baffert said. “It’s a tough race.”
Classier shipped from California with the rest of the Baffert runners Tuesday. He galloped 1m Wednesday morning under exercise rider Erick Garcia.
Bred by Mary Sullivan, who rarely sells her young horses and races as Sullimar Stable, she decided to offer this colt out of Class Will Tell at the 2019 Keeneland September yearling sale. He was acquired for $775,000 by the partners SF Racing, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables. Three other investors have since come on board: Golconda Stables, Siena Farm and Robert Masterson.
Classier and jockey Florent Geroux will leave from Post eightin the 14-horse field.
Baffert has won the Juvenile four times, one shy of the record held by D. Wayne Lukas. Baffert’s most recent win came in 2018 with Game Winner.
Dreamer’s Disease/Keepmeinmind (Robertino Diodoro)– Cypress Creek and Arnold Bennewith’s Dreamer’s Disease and Keepmeinmind have brought trainer Robertino Diodoro back to the World Championships for the first time since his initial starter Broadway Empire finished ninth in the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.
Both runners are listed at 30-1 on the morning line with Keepmeinmind breaking from post six under Jose Ortiz and Dreamer’s Disease from post 10 with David Cohen.
“The six is perfect for Keepmeinmind,” Diodoro said. “The 10 for Dreamer’s Disease; I don’t mind that. All the speed is to the inside of us and I like that better than having it to the outside.”
Keepmeinmind is winless in two starts, the first in an off-the-turf race at Churchill Downs and then a runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Futurity Oct. 3 at Keeneland. Dreamer’s Disease has won two of four starts with one victory each on dirt and turf.
“Dreamer’s Disease does both,” Diodoro said. “He loved Ellis Park but didn’t care for that course at Kentucky Downs. With Keepmeinmind, the way he is training on dirt, turf is not in the near future as we plan to go to Oaklawn (which does not have a turf course) in the spring.”
But that is down the road. First things first on Friday.
“I’d like to see Dreamer’s Disease at the half-mile pole a length in front,” Diodoro said. “We are going (to the lead) at all costs. Keepmeinmind … I’d like to see him get a good trip.”
The competition is one thing Diodoro is not concerned about.
“You start studying too much and you start second guessing yourself,” Diodoro said. “With two horses, I just worry about them feeling good and staying happy. I know what our strategy is and I can’t change that.”
Essential Quality – Godolphin LLC’s undefeated Essential Quality has everyone excited as he prepares for thr Juvenile. In just his second career start, he won the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and has been installed as the 4-1 second choice on the morning line.
“He’s training really well and had three works since the Breeders’ Futurity,” trainer Brad Cox said. “I’ve been very happy with all of them. He’s a gifted horse who has been good since day one. He showed us a lot from his first breeze. I would say he has a lot to learn, but the talent is there. He could be anything and is obviously already a Grade 1 winner. He’s a very, very nice horse and I think the sky’s the limit.”
Wednesday, Essential Quality schooled in the gate and galloped 1 ½m and continues to impress Cox.
“He was great (this morning),” Cox said. “He was very professional. I couldn’t ask for him to be doing better.”
Essential Quality enters the Juvenile off his maiden victory and a win in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. Cox feels he’s capable of more.
“I really do believe he’s maturing all the time,” Cox said. “When (jockey) Luis (Saez) came back after that last race, he said ‘he’s a machine, but he has a lot to learn.’ I do think he’s continuing the education process. I do think he’ll move forward and he’ll need to move forward. It’s a solid race, deep field. He does have the experience here and he’s a very talented horse.”
Jackie’s Warrior/Calibrate (Steve Asmussen)– J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s undefeated Jackie’s Warrior, returned to the track to gallop two days after posting his final workout at Keeneland. Trainer Steve Asmussen reported that he was “excellent.”
The 7-5 favorite, the Steve Asmussen trainee continues to make a favorable impression as he attempts to extend his unbeaten record to five.
“Very happy with him,” Asmussen said. “He’s training wonderfully. It’s a race with 14 2-year-olds, so we’ll see what happens and go from there. Jackie’s Warrior got a good post (post seven), but I was disappointed with Calibrate’s draw (14).”
Next – Silverton Hill Farm’s Wesley Ward-trained Next has raced on three surfaces in as many starts. A son of 2016 Juvenile runner-up Not This Time, he was sixth on debut over Woodbine’s all-weather in June before winning a Kentucky Downs turf maiden Sept. 16. He returned on Oct. 24 at Keeneland and manhandled an allowance field by 11¾ lengths.
A good-looking gray colt, he wheels back on 13 days’ rest and drew post 11 of 14. He will also be jockey Gerardo Corrales’ first Breeders’ Cup mount.
“He’s coming back on short rest, which is always a negative for me, but he’s feeling really good and I see no reason not to go,” Ward said. “Looking at the numbers, he fits, plus it’s our home track, so we’re going to take a shot.”
Not This Time is currently the second-leading freshman sire, narrowly trailing 2015 Juvenile winner Nyquist.
Reinvestment Risk – A breakout winner this summer on debut at Saratoga, Klaravich Stables’ Chad Brown-trained Reinvestment Risk enters the Juvenile as one of the key contenders challenging heavy favorite Jackie’s Warrior. The son of Upstart – who was third in the 2014 Juvenile – has literally chased Jackie’s Warrior in two subsequent Grade 1 starts, finishing second in both the Hopeful and Champagne over 7f and 8f. He steps up to 1 1/16 m and stretches out to two turns in another rematch on Friday, while breaking from post three of 14.
“I think this horse is looking for just a little more distance and some pace,” Brown said. “Additionally, I don’t think he handled the Belmont track well in the Champagne. He wasn’t moving the same on it, although he has come back and worked well on that track, when held together. I just think that moving forward, running in a big race like this and on a fresh track like Keeneland will serve him well.”
Brown seeks his second Juvenile victory, having won with Good Magic in 2017, while Klaravich Stables won the 2018 Juvenile Fillies Turf with Newspaperofrecord and 2019 Longines Turf with Bricks and Mortar.
Rombauer – John and Diane Fradkin’s Rombauer, who has been galloping on the main track at Keeneland for the past three mornings under Osman Cedeno, punched his ticket to the Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance with a runner-up effort in the American Pharoah at Santa Anita.
“I thought the American Pharoah came up a little light numbers-wise,” trainer Michael McCarthy said of moving Rombauer from the turf where he made his first two starts to the dirt. “He had trained well and eaten some dirt behind horses in the morning. He had a wide trip (in the American Pharoah) but finished well.”
Rombauer drew post 13 for the 1 1/16m Juvenile, the same distance as the American Pharoah. Javier Castellano has the mount.
“Thirteen of 14 … he’s not going to be part of the pace early anyway,” McCarthy said.
Sittin On Go – Albaugh Racing Stables’ Sittin On Go was not exactly impressive when he first arrived at trainer Dale Romans’ barn but that changed as his training advanced.
“He was under the radar until we started breezing him further distances at Churchill Downs,” Romans said. “He is a big, long striding horse and he just never gets tired.”
The son of Brody’s Cause confirmed his ability by winning his career debut at Ellis Park on Aug. 16. He took his unbeaten streak to two by winning the Iroquois at Churchill Downs on Sept 5.
Albaugh Family Stables also campaigned Brody’s Cause, who finished third in the 2015 Juvenile at Keeneland. The outfit purchased Sittin On Go for $65,000 as a weanling at the 2018 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. They offered him the following year at Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale but he was listed as not sold on a final bid of $62,000.
Sittin On Go galloped 1 ½ m at Keeneland Wednesday morning.
SATURDAY, NOV. 7
◇ $1 Million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1)
Race 4, post time 12:02 p.m. ET
Gamine – Michael Lund Petersen’s Gamine, had her first look at Keeneland’s main track Wednesday morning during a 1m gallop under exercise rider Humberto Gomez.
Purchased for $1.8 million as a 2yo in March 2019, she has used her speed to great advantage, winning three of five starts and earning $483,000. She is the 7-5 favorite in the Filly and Mare Sprint.
The 3yo daughter of top sire Into Mischief won the 1m Acorn by 18 ¾ lengths on June 20 and raced away to a 7-length score in the Test at Saratoga on Aug. 8. She led early as the 7-10 favorite in the Kentucky Oaks Sept. 4 but was collared and ended up third. She returns after a two-month stretch between races.
“That little break has really helped her,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “She couldn’t be doing any better. She looks great. I think seven-eighths is a great distance for her and the one turn, because of her speed. At two turns she’s not as effective because you have to slow her down going into those turns.
“I would have liked an outside post. I said that about the Acorn, too, when she drew the one and it really didn’t matter.” Gamine drew post position two.
Serengeti Empress – On Tuesday morning, Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress galloped a lap of 1m on Churchill Downs’ main track. The earner of more than $2 million then galloped 1m on Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs before arriving to Keeneland’s Barn 68. The Kentucky Oaks champion of 2019 concludes her career in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
Trained by Tom Amoss, the dark bay daughter of Alternation has done her best running on the lead, including a gate-to-wire win in the Oaks and a gritty victory in August’s Ballerina, her seventh career, sixth stakes and second Grade 1 win. Unraced since a nose loss to Bell’s the One in the Derby City Distaff on Sept. 5, she breaks from post seven of nine in Saturday’s 7f contest.
“I wasn’t really too fixated on the post before the draw,” Politi said. “The reality is that (7-5 morning line favorite) Gamine has only shown one style of running, but (Bob) Baffert has said she doesn’t have to be on the lead. I don’t know what they’ll do. All I know is that we’re going for the lead. She’s done that every time and she can go at a breakneck pace. If someone is going with her, they’re on a suicide mission that might tire us all out and a closer wins. I hope that doesn’t happen. She’ll go as fast as she needs to.”
Politi, an orthopedic surgeon based in Columbus, Ohio, purchased the Kentucky-bred at Keeneland’s September 2017 yearling sale for $70,000. Including the Derby City Distaff, she has placed in four G1 races, including last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff behind Blue Prize and Midnight Bisou. One year prior, she was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Known for her very kind and laid-back personality, Serengeti Empress has coupled said off-track disposition with a fierce will to win when competing. Such has resulted in a considerable following among racing fans.
“She’s been the greatest gift ever,” he said. “We’ve had two years with consecutive Breeders’ Cups and all the travel and great races. It’s a dream come true having a horse like this, especially for a relatively small owner like me. My kids can go into the stall with her and stand and pet her and she is just a big old lover.
“On Saturday, we will celebrate her,” Politi continued. “She means the world to me and my family, as well as Tom, his career and personally for him. He’s with her every day and I know she’ll be really missed. I’ll still have her and go see her anytime I want. She going to (Spendthrift stallion) Into Mischief and headed back to Taylor Made Farm, where she was born. She crosses so well with so many stallions, so we just hope she passes on her talent.”
Making her 19th and final start, “The Empress” of the Tom Amoss barn will surrender her sovereignty to be a broodmare.
“It’s going to be hard, I’m not going to lie,” Amoss said. “She’s going to be a mom after this, but I’ve been so blessed to have her.
“She’s going to go out as healthy as she came to me and I’m really proud of that,” he continued. “She’s been so important to the stable with all she’s accomplished. When she leaves to go to the farm after the Breeders’ Cup, it’s going to be like when your kids go off to college. That’s hard. People may roll their eyes at it, but the people who love racing and love horses understand. She’s very special.”
Speech – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Madaket Stables and Heider Family Stables’ Speech, winner of the Ashland at Keeneland in July, galloped on the main track at 8 o’clock Wednesday morning as she continued her preparations for Saturday’s Filly & Mare Sprint.
A troubled fourth in the Kentucky Oaks in her most recent start, Speech will be cutting back to a sprint distance for the first time since February.
“There were a lot of moving parts in that decision,” trainer Michael McCarthy said of running in the Filly & Mare Sprint as opposed to the Longines Classic at 1 1/8m.
“Eclipse already had Point of Honor and Valiance for the Distaff and she is a 3-year-old filly on an upward trajectory.”
Javier Castellano, who has ridden Speech in the Ashland as well as the Kentucky Oaks, has the call Saturday and will break from post one.
“There is plenty of speed in the race, so she should be able to tuck in behind it, swing out at the head of the lane and come running,” McCarthy said.
Venetian Harbor – Ciaglia Racing, Highland Yard, River Oak Farm and Domenic Savides’ Venetian Harbor, who has spent the bulk of 2020 chasing the likes of Swiss Skydiver, Gamine and Speech, will be making the quickest turnaround of her career Saturday in the Filly & Mare Sprint.
Trained by Richard Baltas, Venetian Harbor has been at Keeneland since mid-October when she came to Lexington for a victorious run in the Raven Run on Oct. 17.
“I’m not concerned about it (the three weeks between races) at all,” Baltas said Wednesday morning before Venetian Harbor galloped on the main track.
As for the competition, that includes the aforementioned Gamine and Speech?
“I think she is as good as anybody,” Baltas said of the 3yo who never has been worse than second in seven starts. “These are the World Championships and I think getting here is a win. I have always said, you win one of these, it is like winning three Grade 1s.”
Manny Franco, who was aboard for the first time in the Raven Run victory, has the mount Saturday and will break from post six.
◇ $1 Million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1)
Race 5, post time 12:39 p.m. ET
Got Stormy – Winner of the Franklin County at Keeneland on Oct. 9 in her most recent start, Gary Barber’s Got Stormy drew the 12 post in the field of 14 for the Turf Sprint for which she was installed as the 7-2 morning line favorite.
“An outside post is good,” trainer Mark Casse said. “Going five and a half on the turf, I would not want to be on the inside unless I had a tremendous amount of speed. She will be coming from out it, so I don’t mind that post. She does not have the early foot that some of those horses do. I think (jockey Tyler Gaffalione) will find a spot, so that works out well. I wish we had drawn a little closer in, but it’s not the end of the world.”
Got Stormy vanned to Keeneland from Casse’s main base at Churchill Downs on Wednesday.
Imprimis – Breeze Easy LLC’s Imprimis jogged twice around the training track at Keeneland Tuesday morning for a scheduled start in Saturday’s Turf Sprint with a strong chance to give his trainer Joe Orseno a third career Breeders’ Cup success.
“We’re going to go to the gate [Wednesday], which wasn’t in my plans. Seeing we drew post three, I’ve decided to take him in the gate to stand him,” Orseno said. “I really wanted to be further on the outside. You can’t do much about it.”
Imprimis was rated second in the morning line at 4-1 behind Got Stormy, the 7-2 favorite who finished second in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Mile last year at Santa Anita.
“I’m happy to have Irad [Ortiz Jr.] to ride him. He’s a quality rider who knows the horse,” Orseno said. “He could get bottled up in there, but he has enough tactical speed for us to really do what we want.”
Imprimis, who has won eight of 15 career starts, finished sixth, beaten 4 lengths, in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita. After an extended break, the 6yo gelding has finished first in his only two starts this year in the Troy at Saratoga and the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint. The son of Broken Vow, however, was disqualified and placed third for drifting in during the stretch run of the Troy while making his first start in nine months.
“There was a lot of disappointment we didn’t get the win. I never thought about the money. Yeah, I would have liked to get a bigger commission, but for me, it was: we did all that off that layoff; we got him ready and got him where we wanted him to be; shipped him to Saratoga and for him to win that way… ,” Orseno said. “They can’t take that race away from him. They can take the first-place away, but the race was what I needed to get and that’s what we got out of it. It definitely moved him forward for his next race.”
Imprimis was shuffled back in traffic in the stretch run at Kentucky Downs but recovered to mount an impressive drive to score by a neck under Ortiz Jr.
“I had no idea he was trapped down on the inside like that,” said Orseno, noting he didn’t have a good vantage point while watching the race. “He just rode him out and around. That move he made doing that, picking up horses of that caliber, I told the owner, ‘He has to be one of the choices for the Breeders’ Cup off that race.’ I think he’ll peak for this race.”
Should Imprimis win the Turf Sprint Saturday, Orseno will enter a Breeders’ Cup winner’s circle for the first time since 2000, when he saddled Perfect Sting for a win in the Filly & Mare Turf and Macho Uno for a score in the Juvenile at Churchill Downs.
“It would mean a lot. When I went on that run with Stronach [Stables], it was five years and I was in it almost every year. We won two of them and were very competitive – we were third in the Classic with Golden Missile [in 1999]. I thought, ‘I’ll be doing this every year.’ When you don’t get to come back, you realize what it’s about and what it takes,” Orseno said. “I have a conception of what it takes to get a horse ready to do this, but you have to have the horse. A coach is only as good as his players. Right now, we have the right player.”
Leinster – Amy Dunne, Brenda Miley, Westrock Stables’ and Jean Wilkinson’s Leinster is truly back at home for a second run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Temporarily displaced from his home on Rice Road to Barn 42 so the barn area could be readied for the Breeders’ Cup, Leinster is now back in Barn 60, the regular barn for trainer Rusty Arnold that now houses the likes of Tiz the Law, who is right down the shedrow.
“He’s happy as can be,” Arnold said after Leinster galloped on the main track. “Plenty to look at this morning that’s for sure.”
A two-time graded stakes winner over the Keeneland turf course at the Turf Sprint distance of 5 1/2f, Leinster is the co-second choice at 4-1 in the field of 14 and will break from post seven.
“I am really happy with the draw and he’s handy enough to get position,” Arnold said of Leinster, who finished seventh in the Turf Sprint last year at Santa Anita.
“I don’t think there is a home-court advantage on a turf course,” Arnold said. “He likes it firm and he likes any turf course. Here he gets to run out of his own barn, and I think that means more than the course.”
◇ $1 Million Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1)
Race 6, post time 1:18 p.m. ET
Sharp Samurai – Trainer Mark Glatt had a decision to make with the 6yo Sharp Samurai: Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile or the FanDuel Mile presented by PDJF.
He was pre-entered in both races with Glatt opting for the dirt for the horse who is owned by Red Baron’s Barn, Rancho Temescal and Glatt.
“Because he’s never raced outside California we weren’t sure if he’d like the softer turf,” Glatt said. “Even though your weather has been good it would still be quite a bit softer than our turf out there. I talked to (retired Hall of Fame jockey) Gary Stevens about it quite a bit. “
Sharp Samurai arrived at Keeneland Tuesday for his second dirt start since 2017. The most recent was a runner-up finish to Maximum Security in the TVG Pacific Classic.
“He’s run good races all summer long and run into some tough ones,” Glatt said. “We’re hoping Saturday will be the day he wins his first race of the year.”
◇ $2 Million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1)
Race 7, post time 1:57 p.m. ET
Mucho Unusual – George Krikorian’s homebred filly Mucho Unusual has made her second trip to Keeneland in 2020 and trainer Tim Yakteen hope things go better this time around in Saturday’s Filly & Mare Turf.
In her lone trip outside of Southern California, Mucho Unusual finished eighth in the Jenny Wiley here in July.
“She doesn’t like it warm and humid,” Yakteen said. “She didn’t run well here at Keeneland when it was hot back in the summer.”
The cooler weather here when she arrived Sunday was greeted warmly by Yakteen for his filly, who represents his second Breeders’ Cup starter.
“She shipped well and has trained really well here,” said Yakteen, whose previous starter was Big Score who finished fifth in the Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita in 2016. “She handled her trips really well. She’s a good traveler, cleaned up her feed tub.”
Mucho Unusual is 30-1 on the morning line with Flavian Prat to ride from post eight.
What will it take to be a factor at Keeneland?
“It’s gonna take her running her best race, and a couple of the superstars not running their best race,” Yakteen said. “She’s doing just super. I couldn’t ask for better. We had a chance to take a shot, so we’re taking it.”
◇ $2 Million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1)
Race 8, 2:36 p.m. ET
Collusion Illusion – One has to wonder if whoever named Collusion Illusion has something against racetrack announcers. Not only is his name a mouthful to pronounce but the Twirling Candy colt has been a handful for his competitors on the track.
The bay sophomore colt, a $300,000 purchase from the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sale 2-Year-Old In Training Sale, punched his ticket to Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with a score over older rivals in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar Aug. 1. Trainer Mark Glatt picked him out at the sale and is a co-owner.
Collusion Illusion is owned by Dan Agnew, Rodney Orr, Jerry Schneider and John Xitco. This will be Glatt’s second Breeders’ Cup appearance. He saddled Blackjackcat to run third in the 2017 Mile.
“He’s a nice horse and he’s going to be even better at 4,” Glatt said. “He’s already heavier and stronger since summer. This is a good time and place to take a shot with him.”
Echo Town/Yaupon (Steve Asmussen) – Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen added a seventh Breeders’ Cup trophy to his collection last year when Mitole won the Sprint and secured Champion Sprinter honors with the effort. He returns in 2020 with two sprinters, both 3yos, looking to follow in their former stablemate’s footsteps. Echo Town, winner of the H. Allen Jerkens this summer, comes in off a third in the Phoenix at Keeneland in his first attempt against older horses, while Yaupon, undefeated in four starts this year, will be facing older horses for the first time.
“Yaupon’s been brilliant this year, he’s four for four and Echo Town is a Grade 1 winner and battle tested,” Asmussen said. “Very fortunate to have them. The two draws I was disappointed in the Breeders’ Cup were Echo Town drawing the one and Calibrate drawing the 14 (in the Juvenile).”
Like Mitole, Yaupon races for Asmussen’s longtime clients William and Corinne Heiligbrodt.
“It’s a bit unusual to have a horse in the same race for the same owners in back-to-back years,” Asmussen said. “To have Mitole and now Yaupon for Bill and Corinne is truly special. I do believe the difference is Mitole was late in his 4-year-old year and had already shown his dominance, while Yaupon is a lightly raced 3-year-old.”
Vekoma – R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables’ Vekoma was ruled out of Saturday’s Sprint Wednesday morning after spiking a fever overnight.
“Vekoma did not train. He spiked a fever last night. He got treated. It doesn’t look like he’s going to get to run,” trainer George Weaver said. “He’s good. We treated him. He’s comfortable, stable and happy.”
Vekoma was installed as the 3-1 morningline favorite for the Sprint. The 4yo son of Candy Ride, who won the Blue Grass at Keeneland last year, is undefeated in three starts this year. After winning the March 28 Sir Shackleton at Gulfstream Park off a layoff of almost 11 months, Vekoma scored back-to-back Grade 1 victories in the Carter Handicap and the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park.
“We kind of thought it was his destiny to win this race and put the crown on what has already been a great year. He’s a very special horse. I’m lucky I’ve had the chance to train him. We’re going to take good care of the horse. That’s all we can do.”
Spendthrift Farm holds stallion rights to Vekoma, who will likely be retired, Weaver said.
Whitmore – The veteran Whitmore got reacquainted with the Keeneland track Tuesday morning after arriving Monday afternoon from his Churchill base and galloped 1 1/2m under regular rider Laura Moquett, wife and assistant to her husband trainer Ron Moquett, as he prepares for his fourth start in the Sprint. Whitmore, who was second in the Sprint in 2018 and third last year, has prepped for each of his Breeders’ Cup starts in the Phoenix at Keenelandand has a record of 1-2-0 in four tries. He was fourth in the race this year.
“He’s doing great,” said Moquett, who also co-owns the gelding with Robert LaPenta and Sol Kumin’s Head of Plains Partners. “He’s doing very good right now, we’re excited. I think he’s coming in to this race as good as he’s ever been.”
When asked about the accomplishment of getting a horse to the Breeders’ Cup four times, Moquett said, “First off you have to have a horse that likes his job. They have to want to do this. And, we’ve been able find a routine that suits him.
“What I think is really awesome about Whitmore is how he’s been able to connect with people over these last four years. I don’t think a day goes by that someone doesn’t reach out through social media to comment about how much they enjoy following him. A lot of people have been following him since he ran in the (Kentucky) Derby (in 2016). The connection he’s made with fans is really cool.”
◇ $2 Million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile presented by PDJF (G1)
Race 9, post time 3:15 p.m. ET
Halladay – Halladay, winner of the Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 22 in his most recent start, was supposed to arrive at Keeneland from trainer Todd Pletcher’s Belmont Park base late Monday but weather disrupted the schedule. Instead he arrived Tuesday on an afternoon flight.
Pletcher said the original flight – scheduled to leave Republic Airport in Farmingdale on Long Island – was canceled because of high winds. A flight then was supposed to depart from Stewart International airport in Newburgh about 75 miles northwest of Belmont Park but that plan was scrapped because trucks were banned from the bridges heading to upstate New York because of the high winds.
Halladay drew the 10 slot in the field of 14.
“He needs to break cleanly,” Pletcher said. “He is a forwardly placed horse and we anticipate a clean break and good position in the first turn. It is important to get a good start because there is not a lot of margin for error with that short run to the first turn.”
Ivar – Stud RDI, Bonne Chance Farm’s Ivar (BRZ) came home like he was shot out of a cannon when he captured the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland early in October. That victory secured a spot in the starting gate as the morning line favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Mile and earned trainer Paulo Lobo his second starter in the World Championships.
“If you see his races from Argentina, he always comes from off the pace – he prefers it to be way off the pace,” said Lobo, who saddled Farda Amiga to a runner-up finish in the 2002 Distaff at Arlington Park.
“That’s how he likes to run. He came here with a huge reputation from South America. I knew he was a good one but you never know how they’re going to improve once they get here. You know how hard it is to win a Grade One, especially at Keeneland.”
Jockey Joe Talamo, who has a 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint victory with California Flag in 2009 on his resume, was as impressed as anyone with Ivar’s turn of foot in the Shadwell.
“Going down the backstretch he got into such a good rhythm and was so relaxed,” Talamo said. “Tremendous training job by Paulo to get this horse to turn off like that. I was all smiles turning for home. When I took him out there (at midstretch), he just exploded.”
In Monday’s draw for post positions, Ivar drew the 11 hole.
“I think the post position is fine,” Lobo said. “That’s the post he had in the Shadwell Mile. The saddle towel was the same but (trainer Mike) Maker had two scratches so actually he was in stall nine.
“He’s a horse that comes from behind. Our main concern is that first turn but Joe really knows him now and he’s going to set up things well for us I’m sure.”
Ivar to Keeneland early Wednesday to check in and may walk or gallop tomorrow, said Lobo, who has a 35-horse string at The Thoroughbred Center on Paris Pike.
War of Will – Trainer Mark Casse laughed when reminded that four of his six Breeders’ Cup entrants drew outside post positions and another drew a middle spot. However, he was hardly concerned because Gary Barber’s War of Will drew what he considers an advantageous post.
“War of Will’s post position (the four) was probably the most important of all especially going a mile at Keeneland where I think the outside post is so tough,” Casse said. “So I would say he drew perfect.”
The winner of last year’s Preakness, War of Will won the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland in July. He is scheduled to begin his stallion career in 2021 at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky, where his sire, War Front also is at stud.
◇ $2 Million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1)
Race 10, post time 3:45 p.m. ET
Ce Ce – Bo Hirsch’s galloped on the all-weather training track Monday morning following her arrival from her Southern California base. She got her first sampling of the main track at Keeneland at 6 o’clock Tuesday morning galloping under exercise rider Osman Cedeno with a repeat work at the same time Wednesday.
Trained by Michael McCarthy, Ce Ce started 2020 with three consecutive victories including Grade 1 scores in the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita and the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park. Since then, she has two thirds followed by a fourth sprinting in the Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs in her most recent start.
“It is not her fault,” McCarthy said. “She has had some excuses and there were some errors in judgment on my part. She is doing as well as she ever has.”
Ce Ce will be ridden by John Velazquez, who has won the Distaff twice. The team drew post position one and is 12-1 on the morning line.
“I was hoping for somewhere between four and eight,” McCarthy said. “Coming out of a seven-eighths race (the Derby City Distaff in which she finished fourth), I expect her to be forwardly placed just in behind the first flight.”
Dunbar Road – One day after arriving from New York, Peter Brant’s Dunbar Road jogged a circuit of Keeneland’s main track. The Grade 1 winner galloped 1m of the Keeneland main track on Wednesday morning, per trainer Chad Brown.
This season, Dunbar Road has raced just three times, winning the Shawnee Stakes at Churchill Downs in May before landing July’s Delaware Handicap by 3 lengths.
The 2019 Alabama winner has pleased Brown with her preparation and will run in the Longines Distaff for the second consecutive year, having finished fifth of 11 in 2019 at Santa Anita. She enters off a lackluster performance in the Beldame at Belmont, finishing third by 5¼ lengths after going off as the even-money favorite.
“I don’t know what happened in her last race,” Brown said. “The only thing I can say – I know it’s an unpopular excuse – but maybe she didn’t like the track. She trained really, really well, but then just never picked her feet up in the race. I was so shocked by it. She’s come back and trained brilliantly.
“She has a run at Keeneland before, last year, and I thought she ran quite well,” Brown continued. “She had a tough, tight trip down inside and should have won the Spinster.”
The earner of $1,016,040 goes after win number seven in her 11th start Saturday in the Longines Distaff. Fifth of 11 last year in the $2 million fixture, the daughter of Quality Road will be ridden by Jose Ortiz, who has been aboard for five of her six wins.
“She didn’t break that well last time (when third in the Beldame),” Ortiz said. “I think the last race looks kind of bad, but it was also a really heavy track. She worked really good the other day (Nov. 1, 5f in 1:00 3/5 at Belmont Park).
“I know it’s a tough race with these two fillies (Swiss Skydiver and Monomoy Girl), but she’s a very honest filly,” Ortiz concluded. “Hopefully she he can get a good position and make her run.”
Harvest Moon – Alice Bamford and Michael Tabor’s Harvest Moon was on the main track at 6 o’clock to gallop a day after jogging on Keeneland’s all-weather training track. She was back on the main track at the same time Wednesday morning as she prepared to continue her march from a debuting runner in June to a Breeders’ Cup starter in November.
Bred by Bamford, Harvest Moon did not start until June 12 at Santa Anita in a 1m grass race in which she finished third. Four subsequent starts on dirt have produced all victories.
“She is a late maturing filly and she had little niggling issues as a 2-year-old,” trainer Simon Callaghan said. “The whole family is like that. I raced her dam (Qaraaba-GB) and she was a grass filly who won a stake for me at age 5 after racing in Europe. She only ran for me twice before she got hurt, but she is by Shamardal and (his offspring) could go on dirt.”
Harvest Moon drew post two for Saturday’s Distaff and will be partnered as she has in her past four starts by Flavien Prat. Harvest Moon is 12-1 on the morning line.
“That should be OK,” Callaghan said. “All the speed is to her outside and she should be able to get a good position.”
Horologist – There’s a Chance Stable et al.’s Horologist, who exits a 3-length victory in Belmont’s Beldame, will make her fourth start for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in the Longines Distaff on Saturday at Keeneland. Previously in the care of Richard Baltas for five races and John Mazza 11 races before then, the daughter of Gemologist appears in career form with her latest conditioner, while heading into her stiffest test.
In her first run for Mott, she won the Molly Pitcher by 2 lengths at Monmouth Park on July 18, seven weeks after failing to finish the Santa Maria at Santa Anita for Baltas. She returned Sept. 4, Kentucky Oaks Day, and was third to Distaff favorite Monomoy Girl, an effort that was bettered 30 days later when defying the toll of being close to a hot pace and finishing strongly to win the Beldame.
“If she can repeat the last race, we’ll be in the game,” Mott said. “It’s a very tough race with a couple tough fillies in there. I will wait until I have a chance to look at the Form in post position order. That always factors into it a little bit, but she looks like a stalker-type to me and her natural running style is being a stalker.
“Even though we have been training her and run her a few times, it looks like she’s become a little stouter and a little stronger,” he continued. “She was coming off an effort in California where she was eased the time before, so anything would have been an improvement, but each race, from running big at Monmouth and not as well in the La Troienne to a really big race last time, she’s become stronger.”
On Wednesday morning, Horologist left Keeneland’s Barn 60 and galloped an easy circuit on the main track.
The filly will attempt to give Mott a record-extending sixth win in the Longines Distaff on Saturday and drew post four of 10 in the race. Seeking his first Breeders’ Cup trophy, Junior Alvarado will be in the irons. Alvarado has five mounts in this weekend’s Championship races.
“I feel really good about her,” Alvarado said. “She ran a big race at Belmont. They were going pretty quick and I was worried, but when I asked her, she really kicked for me and came home fast. I know it’s a good race, but I have a lot of confidence in her and I think she could be one of my best chances on Saturday.”
Lady Kate – Lady Kate, who is seeking her first graded stakes victory, jogged and galloped at Churchill Downs Tuesday and arrived at Keeneland around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday after galloping 1m in Louisville for trainer Eddie Kenneally. She is scheduled to visit the saddling paddock Thursday morning as part of her morning exercise.
Lady Kate, fourth behind Distaff entrants Valiance and Ollie’s Candy in Keeneland’s Juddmonte Spinster Stakes Oct. 4, drew the No. 6 post position in the field of 10.
“We are happy with the post position,” trainer Eddie Kenneally said. “It is a strong, deep race with very good fillies and mares and we are not under estimating any of them. This is the biggest race of her career and she is coming into it phenomenal. She couldn’t be doing any better and she couldn’t look any better.”
The 4yo Bernardini filly campaigns for Anderson Stables, which purchased her for $485,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale.
Monomoy Girl – The 2018 Longines Distaff winner Monomoy Girl left the barn to gallop with regular exercise rider Fernando Espinoza at 7:50 a.m. Tuesday and had a routine gallop Wednesday morning.
Monomoy Girl missed all of 2019 because of a series of minor setbacks, but has been perfect in three starts this year, including the La Troienne on the Kentucky Oaks undercard Sept. 4 in her most recent start.
“We considered the Spinster (Oct. 4) after the La Troienne, but we thought with the timing it worked out better to go straight into the Distaff given the fact that we have spaced her races out this year,” trainer Brad Cox said. “It seems to be working well. We wanted to stay on the same pattern. She couldn’t be doing any better.”
The Tapizar mare continues to impress her Cox as she prepares for his second start in the race. Monomoy Girl won the 2018 Ashland at Keeneland to give Cox his first career Grade 1 before capturing the Kentucky Oaks and eventually ending that year with her Breeders’ Cup score. This year’s Distaff will be only her second start at the famed Lexington track, but she is very familiar with her surroundings here.
“She’s good, really good,” Cox said. “She’s as good as she’s ever been honestly. It’s scary to see how well she’s moving, how happy she is and how fresh she is. She really likes Keeneland. She spent a lot of time here as a 2-year-old and obviously won the Ashland here and prepared for the Ashland here. She was here for a few weeks before the race then. And, she spent a good time here this spring. Most of her works before getting back to races were here at Keeneland. She does love it here, there’s no doubt about it.”
Ollie’s Candy – Paul and Karen Eggert’s Ollie’s Candy galloped 1 1/2m on the main track Tuesday under Juan Leyva for trainer John Sadler. She galloped the same distance Wednesday morning shortly after the main track opened at 6 o’clock.
Sadler took over the training of Ollie’s Candy in 2019 and has started her 10 times with the first two being on turf.
“She had been running on turf when we got her but she had won on the all-weather (at Golden Gate) and the Summertime Oaks on dirt at Santa Anita,” Sadler said. “I have trained many Candy Rides and I know they are good on a variety of surfaces.
“We took her down to Del Mar (after her two grass starts) and she trained so well on the dirt we made the decision to run her on it.”
Fourth in the Distaff last year at Santa Anita, Ollie’s Candy is winless in 2020 but has three runner-up finishes and two thirds from five starts that all came in Grade 1 races.
“I don’t think she cares that much for the main track at Santa Anita,” Sadler said. “She has run all over … Oaklawn, Belmont, Keeneland … and even though she hasn’t won, I think her form is better and her speed figures are better.
Ollie’s Candy has raced at five tracks in 2020, most recently at Keeneland where she was second in the Juddmonte Spinster Oct. 4.
“It is tremendously frustrating being a head or neck from winning Grade 1s,” Sadler said. “Her owner (Paul Eggert) has a saying that maybe she is saving her luck for the big day.”
Rated as a 10-1 chance on the morning line for the Distaff, Ollie’s Candy will break from post nine under Joel Rosario.
“The post is fine,” Sadler said. “It is a little bit outside but I prefer it to being inside.”
Rosario has ridden her in five of her 15 starts and most recently to a runner-up finish in the Juddmonte Spinster at Keeneland.
Point of Honor – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing LLC’s Point of Honor galloped 1 3/8m over Keeneland’s main track Tuesday morning in her quest to earn her first Grade I victory in Saturday’s Distaff. Wednesday morning Curlin filly galloped 1 3/8m.
Point of Honor, who is rated at 30-1 in the morning line, has been second or third in six top-grade stakes, including the Coaching Club of America Oaks, Alabama, Apple Blossom, Ogden Phipps, Personal Ensign and Beldame.
“We need a good trip. We need things to happen, but I don’t think it’s that far-fetched. She was in a big field in the Apple Blossom. There were some very good mares in there, several Grade 1 winners. With a little more luck, she could have won that,” trainer George Weaver said. “She needs a little luck. She needs the right trip.”
Despite finishing 1-2-3 in 10 of 11 career starts, including five Grade 1 placings, Point of Honor was rated at 30-1 following Monday’s post position draw for the particularly deep Distaff field.
The 4yo filly has employed an off-the-place style while finishing in the money in all but one of her 11 career starts.
“She’s shown up every time. Even though she’s not winning, she hits the board,” trainer George Weaver said. “You always see her face coming down the lane.”
Weaver understands the imposing challenge Point of Honor will face while meeting the likes of Monomoy Girl, the 8-5 morning line favorite who won the 2018 Distaff and is undefeated this year, and Swiss Skydiver, the 2020 Preakness winner who is rated at 2-1.
“They don’t give these races away. They’re championship races. You don’t find easy spots,” he said. “Throughout the year, you might find an easy one, but this is where everyone comes together, which makes it a special event.
“Obviously, I’m a big fan of Swiss Skydiver. She ran huge in the Preakness. She’s very talented. I saw her win the Alabama [at Saratoga],” Weaver said. “There are a few horses to beat in there. Maybe (Swiss Skydiver) will apply some pressure when it’s needed there during the race and set up a pace a little bit.”
Swiss Skydiver – Peter Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver made her usual early appearance Tuesday morning with regular rider Robby Albarado on board and jogged once around before an easy 1 1/2m gallop.
The Daredevil filly has only made one start at Keeneland in her career when second in the Blue Grass to Art Collector in July, but she does hold a bit of a home-court advantage in the Distaff.
“She’s stabled here a lot in her career, that bottom barn has been our base for a long time,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “She knows the routine of walking up the hill. Robby [Albarado] is getting on her all week. He wanted to, which I like. She’s just doing pretty basic stuff.”
Swiss Skydiver, who was second in the Kentucky Oaks, enters the Distaff off her victory against males in the Preakness Stakes, which was a very satisfying victory for McPeek.
“It was pretty awesome,” McPeek said. “We stuck our necks out because we thought she deserved a chance. It was a tough call because we had to decide to go against straight 3-year-olds or go against older horses. We felt like the upside was there and she came through for us. It was very cool.”
It’s unusual for a trainer to have a hard time finding a jockey for a multiple graded stakes winner, but that was the position trainer Kenny McPeek found himself in several times this year with Swiss Skydiver. When he needed a jockey to ride the Grade 1 winner, who had already proven herself successful against the boys when second in the Blue Grass, in the Preakness, he turned to his old friend Robby Albarado.
The subsequent victory was redemption for both the trainer and rider. Swiss Skydiver’s win over Kentucky Derby winner Authentic validated McPeek’s decision to go in the race and brought Albarado back to the national spotlight.
Albarado doesn’t plan on letting Swiss Skydiver get away and has been her regular exercise rider all week, coming out in the first set for what McPeek calls an “uncomplicated” gallop.
“She’s doing extremely well,” Albarado said. “I want to say she’s doing as good if not better than she was at Pimlico (Preakness week). She’s moving really well. She’s very confident. She’s so smart about everything. She knows where she’s at and what she has to do.”
Reflecting on the Preakness, Albarado said it couldn’t have been a better week.
“It was a fun week,” he said. “To be around a filly like her is a real treat. She’s rare. She doesn’t care about gender. She’s very confident in everything she did all week. That instilled a lot of confidence in me to make all the decisions I needed to in the race. I know it was a bold move to make on the backside, but she was willing to do it herself. She’s such a champion. There was no way Authentic was going by her. Even past the wire, he wasn’t getting by her. That shows her guts.”
Swiss Skydiver drew post position five and is the 2-1 second choice behind 2018 Longines Distaff winner Monomoy Girl.
“I love my draw. I love being where I’m at. We have to beat them all. If they weren’t good, they wouldn’t be in the race, but I guess the main threat is Monomoy Girl on the outside. I just want to get away clean and get through the first turn to see where we’re at. Hopefully, I can get her tucked in the same as in the Preakness and tick off the 12s like she likes to do. Every eighth of mile, she’ll go in 12 (seconds) and comes home as fast as you want her.”
Albarado has three Breeders’ Cup victories, including the 2007 Classic on Curlin, but has not had a mount in the event since 2017 as he saw his business decline.
“She came along at the perfect time,” Albarado said. “I needed a filly like her to get back on the stage that I had gotten accustomed to. I haven’t been on a filly as nice as her. It’s worked out for everyone.”
Valiance – The winner of Keeneland’s Spinster on Oct. 4 got reacquainted with the track Tuesday morning after arriving Monday from trainer Todd Pletcher’s Belmont Park base.
“I love the way she has been training,” Pletcher said. “She was very enthusiastic this morning.”
The remarkably consistent Valiance brings a record of six wins in eight starts to the Distaff. The winner of Keeneland’s Juddmonte Spinster on Oct. 4 has won on fast and sloppy tracks and on turf at four tracks.
Valiance has won six of eight career starts by racing just behind the leaders in the early parts of the race.
“I think (the eight of 10) post position in the Distaff is fine,” Pletcher said. “With a mile and an eighth race, you have time to get over and see how the race unfolds. What is important for her is to get in a good steady rhythm. There is enough pace in there, so I suspect she will be in the second tier.”
The 4yo daughter of Tapit is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Martin Schwartz, who purchased her for $650,000 at Fasig-Tipton Co.’s Saratoga selected yearling sale.
“Before she raced, we had high hopes for her based on her pedigree,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Then she won her first start and won a stakes in her third start. You don’t very often see a horse that can step up in class in their first three starts. We liked her a lot before that, but that really stamped her quality. She has filled out and gotten stronger and that has allowed her to get better on the dirt this year as opposed to being primarily a turf filly.”
Through Nov. 3, Pletcher is one victory away from becoming the eighth North American-based trainer to win 5,000 races.
“It would be great if it happened in a Breeders’ Cup race, but we have a few runners before that and we hope to win any race we can,” he said. “It is a great milestone for the team. A lot of people put forth a great amount of effort to make it happen. Lots of good horses and good clients over the years – we have been fortunate and are excited that it will happen.”
◇ $4 Million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1)
Race 11, post time 4:33 p.m. ET
Arklow – Trainer Brad Cox was recently asked which of his nine Breeders’ Cup horses was doing the best and just like a parent isn’t allowed to choose a favorite child, Cox said they were all doing very well, but did raise some eyebrows when he mentioned that Arklow, who is listed as the 5-1 co-third choice in his third Longines Turf, was doing particular well. The 6yo Arch horse recently had blinkers added to his morning works and wore them for the first time when he won the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup.
“He’s a very laid back horse, but has become more aggressive in his works with the blinkers,” Cox said. “He’s had them on the last couple of works and he’s done very well.”
United – After finishing second by a head at 51-1 in the 2019 Longines Turf and winning four of five starts this year, it’s fair to say LNJ Foxwood’s United has received far more respect this time around. He drew post seven Monday evening and is 8-1 on the morning line in the 10-horse field.
Flavien Prat will ride the 5yo gelded son of Giant’s Causeway for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. Prat and United have finished first in five of their 11 races together. Their most recent start was a 1 ½-length victory in the John Henry Turf Classic Sept. 26 at Santa Anita. The only loss for the Prat/United team in 2020 was a second by a head to Red King in the Del Mar Handicap Aug. 22.
“He’s had a very good year,” Mandella said. “We’ve learned a few things about him. The last time we sent him to the lead and he loved it. He’s become more versatile than ever, just with experience. I just hope that I’ve got him at the same level that I had last year because he ran a helluva race last year.”
United galloped 1 ½m Wednesday morning under exercise rider Taylor Cambra.
◇ $6 Million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)
Race 12, post time 5:18 p.m. ET
Authentic, Improbable, Maximum Security (Bob Baffert) – Bob Baffert’s longtime assistants Jimmy Barnes and Peter Hutton had the stalls assigned to the Baffert team in Barn 62 ready for the arrival Tuesday of their six Breeders’ Cup runners. Baffert’s horses were part of the contingent shipped by plane from California.
The Hall of Fame trainer’s trio of Breeders’ Cup Classic runners made their first visits to the Keeneland track Wednesday for a 1m gallop. Exercise rider Humberto Gomez was up on morning linefavorite Improbable and Kentucky Derby winner Authentic. Erick Garcia rode Maximum Security.
“Everyone did the same thing. It’s the first day,” Baffert’s longtime assistant Jimmy Barnes said. “We’re just letting them get the nerves out, see where they’re at and see how they handled the ship. Everybody did good.”
Baffert said he was enthusiastic about all six of the horses he brought from California for the Breeders’ Cup.
Princess Noor is the 9-5 morningline favorite in the Juvenile Fillies, Gamine, the 7-5 morningline favorite in the Filly and Mare Sprint, and the 2yo colt Classier, who is 15-1 in the Juvenile. Hollywood Gold Cup, Whitney and Awesome Again winner Improbable is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the Classic and is the leader of Baffert’s powerful trio of entrants.
“The Classic horses are three pretty powerful horses,” he said. “We’ve got a Derby winner, a 3-year-old champion and Improbable has won his last [three] races in great fashion. I’ve never been this strong before in the Classic. Usually, I’d be happy to have just one of those in the Classic. To have three is pretty amazing.”
All three of Baffert’s Classic horses have multiple Grade 1 wins, and each of them has a distinct running style.
“Authentic, we know he’s quick, he’s fast,” Baffert said. “Max is fast, but you can put him where you want. And Improbable has speed himself, but he can sit, he can stalk. What they all have in common is they are extremely talented horses. You hate to run all three of them together like that, but for the Breeders’ Cup Classic everything is on the line. Championship honors are on the line with horses like Tiz the Law in there. I’ve been watching Tiz the Law and he looks great. It’s going to be a great race with those four horses in there.”
This will be Baffert’s 12th consecutive year with a starter in the Classic and the sixth time he has had more than one runner. In 2017 at Del Mar he saddled four horses in the Classic: Collected, who finished second; West Coast, third; Arrogate, fifth; Mubtaahij (eighth). Since his Classic debut with Silver Charm’s runner-up finish in 1998, Baffert has had 23 starters in the race and has an in-the-money record of 3-4-2.
By My Standards – Four-time Grade 2 winner By My Standards continued his march toward the $6 million Longines Classic from his base at Churchill Downs on Tuesday morning, galloping a mile with trainer Bret Calhoun observing.
He had a routine gallop in Louisville on the main track early Wednesday morning before shipping the hour-plus trip to Lexington and bedding down at Keeneland.
The bay 4yo colt will attempt the 1¼m distance for only the second time, with his first try being on a very sloppy course in 2019’s Kentucky Derby, checking in 12th.
“I don’t have any reservations about the distance at all with him,” Calhoun said. “The only worry you may have is that he isn’t proven over the distance yet. To me, it looks like the ideal distance for him because he has high cruising speed and keeps running.”
Gabriel Saez, who has ridden him in 10 of 12 starts, will return for the mount. By My Standards’ past four wins have been with Saez, while his only two losses this year have been when ridden by others.
“Gabe knows the horse extremely well,” Calhoun explained. “He has that confidence in him. Others have rode him well, but he is the most familiar with him and rides him with a lot of confidence. He has the inside track of knowing the horse.”
The son of dual Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents is owned by Chester Thomas’ Allied Racing Stable, which has infused top-quality stock into Calhoun’s barn over the past few years, including multiple graded stakes-winning Dirt Mile contender Mr. Money and Kentucky Derby-placed Mr. Big News. The operation has struck at an eye-catching 25% in 2020 and has a 19% win rate from 810 career races.
“Chester has put some very good horses in my barn to begin with and I’m very thankful for that,” Calhoun said. “It would mean a lot to win the Classic for him. The key has been he’s willing to let us do what we need to do to be successful. We run when we need to run and rest when we need to rest. He allows us to campaign them like we need to in order to keep them at the top level. Guys like him you want to see rewarded. He’s also a guy who continues to reinvest in the business, so whatever happens, he’s going to put it back into the game.”
A native of Madisonville, Kentucky, Thomas is a coal and energy entrepreneur whose earnings in 2020 have been fueled by stable star By My Standards, whom he purchased at OBS April 2018 for $150,000.
The bay 4yo has earned more than $1.7 million for his connections thus far this season with a record of 12-6-4-1, he appears one of the most consistent in the Classic lineup. A top-five finish would hoist him to the richest horse Calhoun has trained, eclipsing $1.8 million-earning Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Chamberlain Bridge.
Global Campaign – Sagamore Farm LLC and WinStar Farm LLC’s Global Campaign galloped 1¼m at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning then galloped another 1¼m at Churchill early Wednesday morning before vanning to Keeneland around 8 o’clock for a scheduled start in Saturday’s Classic.
The Stanley Hough-trained 4yo son of Curlin, who has won six of nine starts during a career frequently interrupted by foot issues, enters the Classic off back-to-back graded-stakes victories in the Monmouth Cup and the Woodward at Saratoga.
“His last couple races brought him back to where I hoped he would be. We’re still fighting all his little foot issues, but I believe he’s going into it really well,” Hough said.
Hunter Rankin, president of Sagamore Farm LLC, credits Hough and his staff for Global Campaign’s ability to overcome his chronic foot issues and make it into the Classic field.
“Global Campaign’s obviously special to us. The reason he got through those issues is because of our team, Stan and assistant trainer Laz [Cruz]. They’ve gotten him where he is today,” Rankin said. “He’s the best he’s been since I’ve been around him.”
Although Rankin will be at Keeneland Saturday, he was unable to be on hand for Global Campaign’s first Grade 1 success in the Woodward, but it was “one of the greatest days I can remember,” he said.
“Stan and I started doing this back in 2015, I think. Stan has been a mentor; he’s been like a second father to me. Just to be able to win a Grade 1 with him and for [Sagamore Farm’s] Kevin [Plank], it just was really, really special,” said Rankin, who watched the Woodward on TV with friends. “To do it at Saratoga in a race like the Woodward was special. I know it was different this year, but when you win a Grade I at Saratoga, it’s a big deal. I was crying. There are so many things in this game that are tough, so when you experience the heights of it, it makes all the tough stuff worthwhile.”
Rankin said Global Campaign is likely to begin his stallion career next year at WinStar Farm.
“This is a celebration for us. I don’t know what he will do. I think he’ll run very well, but he’s cemented himself for his next career. What he does Saturday, the way I look at it, is icing on the cake.”
Higher Power – Hronis Racing’s Higher Power galloped 1 1/2m at 6:30 Tuesday morning at Keeneland with Juan Leyva aboard for trainer John Sadler.
Sadler arrived in Lexington Monday night and Tuesday morning cast eyes on Higher Power in the flesh for the first time in 30 days.
“We took a different approach with him,” said Sadler of Higher Power, who will break from post six in Saturday’s Classic when he tries to improve on his third-place finish of 2019. “I don’t think he had flown cross country before and when he went to Miami (for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational), he was not comfortable.
“We were bringing Ollie’s Candy here (for the Juddmonte Spinster) and she is going to be in the (Keeneland November Breeding Stock) sale (next week) and staying, so it just made sense to bring him in then and not take a chance on another cross-country flight. He has done well here with Juan Leyva, who is a rising star, taking care of him. His last two works have been very good.”
Higher Power visited the starting gate Wednesday and galloped on the main track at 8 o’clock with assistant trainer Juan Leyva aboard for trainer John Sadler.
Saturday’s start in the Classic will be the second for Higher Power, who is scheduled to join the stallion roster at nearby Darby Dan Farm in February. He finished third last year behind Vino Rosso at Santa Anita.
“He didn’t break that well last year in the Classic,” Sadler said. “He needs to do that and get a good trip, something he hasn’t had a lot this year.”
Sadler liked the six post for Higher Power, who is listed at 20-1 on the morning line and will be ridden by Flavien Prat.
“It is very good for him. I didn’t want the one or the outside,” Sadler said. “He will get a stalking trip.”
Higher Power has chased Classic rivals Maximum Security and Improbable in his past three starts and Sadler knows his charge is going to have to step up Saturday.
“There is no question the field this year is deeper than last year,” Sadler said. “And, you don’t know how strong the 3-year-olds (Authentic and Tiz the Law) are.”
Tacitus – Juddmonte Farms’ homebred 4yo Tacitus continues to look well in the mornings for trainer Bill Mott. Looking to give Gainesway Farms’ marquee stallion Tapit his sixth Breeders’ Cup winner, Tacitus enters the Longines Classic off a third as the heavy favorite in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 10.
Racing uncontested on the pace for the first time in his career, the imposing gray colt was overtaken late by Happy Saver and Mystic Guide, each of whom he was giving weight.
“He’s a big horse who pretty much has one pace,” Ortiz said. “He doesn’t have a quick turn of foot; he will accelerate for 100 yards and then keep that same pace. He can be tricky because he sometimes shies away from other horses when they come to him. He’s a little funny mentally, but he has a lot of talent. Fortunately, he has a great trainer in his corner and I think he is going to run a big race.”
Tacitus will break from the rail post with Jose Ortiz in the 10-horse Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic field.
In 14 starts, Tacitus has finished in the top three 11 times, including four victories, three in Grade 2 company.
Ortiz has been aboard the four-time winner in 11 of 14 runs.
“I think he’ll sit mid-pack,” Ortiz continued. “The rail (post) is no problem. I could be forward, but he will likely sit mid-pack and try to make one run. There should be a fast pace this time and I think he will run his race. Tapits get better with age and racing, so hopefully he runs his best.”
On Wednesday morning, the three-time Grade 2 winner left Barn 60 and galloped 1m of the Keeneland main track.
“Everything went really good this morning,” reported assistant trainer Riley Mott. “We’re pleased.”
“He’s good, he’s fresh and he feels good,” Mott said. “He worked good here and he came out of that in good order. He galloped yesterday – went right back to the track with him – and galloped again today.
“He’s got to improve because the competition is a little tougher this time,” he continued. “I think the race having a little pace in it will be to his benefit. They have a long run to the turn, so everyone should get a good spot.”
Having such a sterling pedigree, it would not be a surprise to have Tacitus join the stallion ranks next season, but plans are currently up in the air. Ultimately, the decision resides with Prince Khalid Abdullah, whose pink and green colors have been in the Breeders’ Cup winner’s enclosure seven times. Mott, of course, would prefer to have the attractive gray 4yo back in his barn in 2021.
“I sure hope he (stays in training),” he said. “He’s not a horse who had a big 2-year-old campaign or anything and is worn out. I think he’s a horse that should be a good 5-year-old. Maybe he hasn’t reached his peak yet.”
Title Ready – Charles Fipke’s Title Ready continued to train at his Churchill Downs base Tuesday and had another regular gallop Wednesday morning before making the hour-long van ride to Keeneland.
“All’s good,” trainer Dallas Stewart said. “It’s a tough race with really good horses in there. It’s going to be tough, but we’re excited and we’ll what happens. If you want to survive in this business you have to take the big swings and go after the big purses.”
Tiz the Law – Sackatoga Stable’s 3yo colt Tiz the Law went out for a 2m gallop Tuesday morning under exercise rider Heather Smullen followed by a trip to the starting gate for some schooling.
Belmont winner had an active morning Wednesday under the direction of trainer Barclay Tagg galloping 1 ½m then visiting the paddock for a schooling session after which he was able to spend time grazing outside his barn.
Tiz the Law showed himself to be a top-caliber horse as a 2yo in 2019 with his victory in the Champagne at Belmont Park. He suffered his first defeat, finishing third, in the Kentucky Jockey Club over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs.
The New York-bred from the first crop by Constitution, has won four of five starts this year, three of them Grade 1 races. During this Covid-disjointed season, he won the Holy Bull then reeled off consecutive Grade 1 wins in the Florida Derby, the Belmont and the Travers. His streak ended with a second-place finish to Authentic in the Kentucky Derby. He did not run in the Preakness Oct. 3 and has been prepared for the Classic.
“Obviously, it’s been a strange year,” said Jack Knowlton, Sackatoga’s operating manager. “We’ve had a great year. There is a little disappointment with the Derby, but everything before that was perfect. Hopefully, we can cap it off with a big race here.”
The colt was given time to recover from his effort in the Derby and did not run in the Preakness. Tagg shipped him to Keeneland on Oct. 18 and he has had his final two works over the track he will compete on Saturday afternoon. In Tagg’s view, Tiz the Law is ready for his first test against older horses.
Though trainer Barclay Tagg would have preferred an outside post, Tiz the Law and jockey Manny Franco drew post 2 in the 10-horse Classic. Tagg acknowledged that he doesn’t know for sure that the colt dislikes being on the inside – he has two wins from post 3 – but said the draw would force Franco to be aggressive when the gates open.
“I guess he’s going to have to let him run away from there a little bit so he can get a position. I don’t want a whole crowd on his outside,” Tagg said. “That’s all we can do, let him run away from there like he did in the Florida Derby. Ideally, if Baffert’s horses would team up up there on the front end; with a deal like that we could sit off them a couple of lengths and just be outside couple of lengths. That would work out great, I think. Who knows?”
Tom’s d’Etat – When Tom Benson decided to launch G M B Racing along with his wife, Gayle, in 2014, a strong-bodied bay colt from the last crop of Smart Strike was among the first group of yearlings purchased on behalf of the venture. His $330,000 price tag at the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling sale suggested there was ample potential be waiting to be unearthed. Though it has taken more than a fistful of years to come to fruition, Tom’s d’Etat now stands poised to honor his namesake with one of racing’s most illustrious honors.
Though Tom Benson passed away in 2018, the acumen of the New Orleans businessman still resonates. Last November, Tom’s d’Etat gave the G M B Racing team its Grade 1 win when he took the Clark at Churchill Downs and on Saturday, the 7yo horse can give the operation its first Breeders’ Cup triumph when he starts in the $6 million Classic.
Trained by Al Stall Jr. – who hoisted the Classic hardware 10 years ago with eventual champion, Blame – Tom’s d’Etat first caught his conditioner’s eye when he ended up on his shortlist at the September Yearling auction six years ago. He didn’t debut until May 2016 and, because of a series of physical setbacks, didn’t make his first stakes appearance until December 2018. Since that breakout win in the Tenacious Stakes, however, Tom’s d’Etat has raced in graded stakes company in eight of his 10 subsequent starts finishing worse than third just twice during that span.
“We’ve known the Bensons for a long time, we knew Gayle before she was married to Mr. Benson, she lived across the street from my parents,” said Stall, a Louisiana native. “Mr. Benson used to be a horse owner who would come to the Derby off and on. It was a great idea of (G M B racing manager) Greg Bensel and Mr. Benson to say ’let’s get back into it.’
“They picked the three New Orleans boys to train the horses – me, Dallas (Stewart), and Tom (Amoss) – and we got full autonomy to do whatever we want with the money and buy the type of horses we wanted – colts, fillies, sprinters, everything. Lightning struck quite a bit for them with (graded stakes winners) Mo Town and Tom’s Ready and Lone Sailor and now they’re finishing that first crop off with Tom’s d’Etat. Of course, we all wish Mr. Benson was here to enjoy it. He loved this kind of stuff.”
Tom’s d’Etat galloped at Churchill Downs Tuesday and Wednesday morning before arriving at Keeneland shortly before 10 a.m. for his Classic venture. His neighbor in the next stall for the week is Dirt Mile contender Art Collector.
After five seasons on the track and countless ups and downs during his career, the son of Smart Strike is slated to bring the curtain down on his racing days this weekend when he heads to the starting gate for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. Though trainer Al Stall Jr. readily admits emotions will be running high as he leads his veteran runner over for the last time, the Louisiana native says there is a fairytale ending on tap regardless where the 7yo horse finishes Saturday.
A stall with his name on it will be waiting for Tom’s d’Etat at WinStar Farm as he is set to join its stallion roster for the 2021 season. Earning the right to stand at one of the leading breeding operations is an achievement for any horse but, given the injuries his charge has battled throughout his career en route to becoming a Grade 1 winner, Stall feels a particular level of pride in seeing Tom’s d’Etat graduate to his second career with such honors.
“That might be the best part of the story is that he has a wonderful place to go to,” Stall said. “There won’t be emotion like ‘Oh we want the horse to stay around so we can make more money.’ None of that. We’re thrilled to death that he’s got such a great place to go and (WinStar) does a wonderful job getting mares for their stallions. They have a clientele that goes from here to forever. When he leaves that Sunday morning for WinStar, win lose or draw, it will be a happy thing for everybody.”
All times subject to change.
Edited News Release/MB Kalinich