Family Way in a work at Santa Anita in early October. Photo by Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire
Breeders’ Cup Notes/Edited
LEXINGTON, KY.—Brendan Walsh-trained Family Way will look to go out with a proverbial bang in what is her 20th and likely final race in Saturday’s $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Scheduled to be subsequently sold, the daughter of Uncle Mo out of a half-sister to Caravaggio will also try to improve upon three placings from three Grade 1 starts in 2022. The five-time winner drew post eight with a morning line of 20-1 and will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione.
“I don’t think the draw has a big bearing on her. I just didn’t want to be totally inside or outside,” Walsh said. “We will try to have her in a good spot. Tyler knows her well and he’ll hopefully have her in the best possible position. I’d like her more handy this time and we didn’t plan to have her as far back as she was the last day, so she had too much ground to make up.”
Owned by Hunter Valley Farm, Marc Detampel and Debra O’Connor, the gray 5yo mare enters off a late-running second in the G1 Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita. She was also second in the G1 New York in June at Belmont Park and third in the G1 Beverly D. at Churchill Downs in August.
“She ran well last time and throughout the year and we think she deserves to take her chance here,” Walsh continued. “She’s going to the sale after this and has never been far away in these big races. She just needs things to fall her way. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if she hit the board. We’ll keep her ticking over between now and Saturday, and hopefully she runs a big race.”
Trainer Chad Brown brings a strong trio into the Filly & Mare Turf on Saturday, which will be contested over 1 3/16 miles on Keeneland’s turf course. Last year, with Del Mar’s configuration, it was a three-turn, 1 3/8-mile race.
Chief among the Brown brigade is Peter Brant’s In Italian (GB), who will flex her championships claims if victorious when she breaks from post 11 as the 7-2 morning line second choice under Joel Rosario. She enters off consecutive Grade 1 victories in Saratoga’s Diana, July 16, and Keeneland’s First Lady, Oct. 8.
On Tuesday morning, all three had routine gallops going into their clash with the likes of European standouts Nashwa, winner of the French Oaks, and Tuesday, winner of the English equivalent.
“In Italian was terrific in her gallop today going about a mile and a quarter,” Brown said. “She was moving super and has been a really consistent horse all year. I purposely didn’t run her between the Diana and First Lady to keep her fresh, so I think she can handle the shorter break coming into this and she hasn’t had a tough season. I think she stacks up favorably with the Euros. There are a couple nice ones with the right connections, and they have good form. My fillies have their work cut out for them for sure.”
Rougir (FR), winner of the G1 Prix de l’Opera in 2021 for previous connections, has won two of five since joining Brown’s barn this season. Sold at Arqana December to Peter Brant and Michael Tabor for $3,393,043, she enters off a late-running neck victory in the G1 E. P. Taylor at Woodbine. Given a morning line of 12-1, she breaks from post nine under Flavien Prat.
“She started her year off really well for me and her last run was really good,” Brown said. “It was everything in between that wasn’t good, despite her good works. She had me scratching my head for a while and she definitely would prefer some give in the ground, and it doesn’t look like she’ll get that, but her race at Woodbine was quite good. She got shut off pretty bad and I was really impressed with it.”
Virginia Joy (GER), winner of the Flower Bowl in September, completes the threesome and seeks her fourth graded stakes victory of the year. All four her stateside victories have been at 1¼ miles or farther. She breaks from post 10 under Irad Ortiz Jr. and is 10-1.
“It’s a tough one, because the distance is a little short for her, but I didn’t want to run her against the males in the Turf. I don’t think she’s up for that,” Brown said. “She’s running a little shorter than I prefer, but I have Irad on her and she looks well, so hopefully she can get a piece of it.”