War Like Goddess in a Nov. 1 work. Coady Photography
Turf Specialist and Juveniles complete preps
Breeders’ Cup Notes/Edited
LEXINGTON, Ky.—George Krikorian’s seven-time graded stakes-winning mare War Like Goddess continued her preparations for the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf with a gallop of the Keeneland dirt track at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
“She’s as good a turf horse as we’ve got in our country,” trainer Bill Mott said. “That doesn’t mean she has to win on Saturday, but she’s a competitor and she’s done very well throughout her entire career. We’ve won the race a couple times and it would be really nice to win it with a filly.”
The daughter of 2007 Turf winner English Channel goes in the 1½-mile race in lieu of the 1 3/16-mile Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf, which carries a purse of $2 million. She seeks to give Mott a third win, following Theatrical in 1987 and Fraise in 1992.
“First of all, it’s not about the money, it’s about winning. Frankly, if you win, the money follows. Sometimes I don’t even know the size of the purse,” Mott explained. “With her, it happens to be the distance. I think that she’s a true mile-and-three-eighths, mile-and-a-half horse and we wanted to get her in that type of race and that’s what we did last time (in the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic). We ran her against the boys, and she pulled it off. She was very good.
“A mile and three-sixteenths was probably just a little short for her. That doesn’t she couldn’t get up, but I think she’s a little more effective (going longer)… and it is a big purse.”
Trainer Michael McCarthy sent his Longines Turf hopeful Master Piece to gallop 1 ¼m over the main track before the break as he prepares to take on the world’s best in the 1 ½m turf race. He comes into the race off a second in the Del Mar Handicap.
“Master Piece has been great this year,” said McCarthy, who trains the 6yo ridgling for Fernando Diaz-Valdes, Baalbeck Corp and Don Alberto Stables. “He had a little bit of a freshening, came back and ran respectable off the bench in San Francisco (when fourth in the All American Stakes at Golden Gate). His race in the Eddie Reed was phenomenal. He was unlucky in the Del Mar Handicap. He had to make a couple different moves and things just didn’t seem to go his way pace wise that day. (Jockey) Flavien (Prat) rode him patiently and he was rolling at the end. He’s doing great now.”
When Bran arrived in trainer John Sadler’s barn last year for Hronis Racing, Sadler was not sure what to expect.
“I was hoping he would be worth the price we paid for him,” Sadler said of Bran, who spent the first part of his career racing in grass sprints in France.
This year, Bran has compiled a record of 8-3-2-2 and earned a spot into Saturday’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Keeneland.
“He has exceeded our expectations,” Sadler said Tuesday morning before Bran went out to train on the main track with Juan Leyva aboard. “I don’t know if he is a Grade 1 horse, but we’ll find out.”
Bran earned a spot in the Turf Sprint by winning a “Win and You’re In” race at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 10 in his most recent start.
“He had a nice breeze Friday (4f in 48 2/5) and handled it fine,” Sadler said. “He got to work on grass which is something we can’t do in California.”
Bran will break from post 12 under Vincent Cheminaud.
“That’s good for him,” Sadler said of the draw, “and a fast pace will help him.”
Cheminaud, who will be making his Breeders’ Cup debut, will be aboard Bran for the third time.
“He gave Bran a tremendous ride at Churchill Downs (in the May 6 Turf Sprint there) at 40-1 and nearly won,” Sadler said, “and he rode him really well at Kentucky Downs.
“I didn’t know him before, but my French acquaintances said he was a good rider. He has a good rapport with the horse.”
Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal’s Packs a Wahlop brings a perfect three-for-three grass record into Friday’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and a chance to give trainer Jeff Mullins a first victory in the World Championships.
“He can run all day,” Mullins said of Packs a Wahlop, whose past two victories have come at the mile distance of the Juvenile Turf.
Packs a Wahlup began his career with a fourth-place finish in the slop at Gulfstream in June before heading west.
“My son had a string at Gulfstream, and it was easy to ship there after we bought him in April at OBS,” Mullins said of the $270,000 purchase. “He had a really good stride on the track at Ocala and you could tell distance would not be a problem for him.”
Packs a Wahlop drew post position two for the Juvenile Turf and will be ridden by Mike Smith, who has been aboard for all three victories by the Creative Cause colt.
“He’s going to be forwardly placed,” Mullins said. “But you can plan all you want until the gates open. However, my rider, I don’t have to tell him anything. He’s been around for a while.”
Smith, who leads all riders with 27 victories in the Breeders’ Cup, posted one of those wins in the Juvenile Turf in 2013 with Outstrip.
After Speed Boat Beach proved himself on dirt at Del Mar, trainer Bob Baffert prepped him for a possible start in the Juvenile Turf Sprint with a run on grass in the Speakeasy on Oct. 2 at Santa Anita. He passed that test, too, winning by 1 ¼ lengths at 2-5.
Though Baffert said Speed Boat Beach shows him he is a dirt horse, he decided the Bayern colt was better suited for the 5 ½f on turf than trying two turns on the main track in the Juvenile.
“Hopefully it doesn’t rain and it’s not soft,”Baffert said. “He’s a fast horse. He’s a really fast horse. Is turf his game? I don’t know. I think he’s better on dirt, but I wasn’t going to run him going a mile and a sixteenths. Maybe down the road, but he’s not ready for it now.”
Though Baffert ranks fourth in Breeders’ Cup career starts with 133, this is his first entry in the Juvenile Turf Sprint. After the post-position draw, he joked that he didn’t know whether post 11 was a good or bad past because he never has had a horse in a 5 ½f turf race at Keeneland.
Speed Boat Beach is owned by Baffert’s longtime clients Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, who have a 2-4-0 record from 13 starts in the Breeders’ Cup. Their two wins came with Secret Circle in the Sprint.
Pegram, Watson and Weitman paid $200,000 for the Florida-bred son of Bayern – who was trained by Baffert – for $400,000 in March at the OBS sale. Bayern won the 2014 Haskell, Pennsylvania Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic before entering stud in Kentucky in 2016. He now stands in Korea.
Baffert said he often scouts the offspring of horses he trained at sales and that Speed Boat Beach caught his eye.
“He worked really fast down in Ocala, and I’m always looking at the Bayerns because he was a really good horse,” Baffert said. “He beat California Chome. He beat good horses. He won some proper races. He won the Haskell, the Pennsylvania Derby. He was a really good horse. He never got a chance (at stud). Horses like that, with the breeding, you don’t get a chance in America unless you’re by Tapit or something. If you don’t come with the runners the first year, it’s tough.
“I saw him at the sale. He worked fast. He’s just a beautifully built horse. He looks like Bayern and is fast. Bayern couldn’t stretch it out until later as a 3-year-old. I tried stretching him and he just wasn’t ready for it. With some horses you’ve just got to wait, and it will come eventually.
“I think Speed Boat was named right. He has a lot of speed.”