Breeders' Cup Recaps
Untapable unbeatable in Breeders' Cup Distaff; Napravnik announces retirement
She then dropped a bombshell by announcing to her Mom, who was standing close by, as well as the world that she would be retiring after Sunday to start a family with her husband, trainer Joe Sharp.
"I've been planning the retirement since I found out that I was pregnant," Napravnik explained during the press conference. "I'm about seven weeks pregnant.
Untapable was forced to go three wide rounding the first turn once the gates opened on the Distaff as Tiz Midnight and Iotapa hooked up on the front end. The sophomore miss dropped back a bit to run in midpack as the leaders battled it out through splits of :22 4/5, :46 3/5 and 1:10 4/5, but stayed in good position to pounce.
Tiz Midnight and Iotapa were still going at it as they entered the final turf, but the former lass was beginning to fade. Untapable moved up to engage Iotapa, exchanging a bump with her rival entering the lane, and managed to inch out a miniscule advantage in the stretch.
While Iotapa continued to dig down on the inside, Don't Tell Sophia suddenly burst free from the rest of the pack and came flying down the center of the track. Untapable refused to yield to either of those opponents, though, and crossed under the wire 1 1/4 lengths in front to pay $5.20 for the win.
Don't Tell Sophia just got up to nip Iotapa by a nose for second, while Ria Antonia took fourth another 4 1/2 lengths in arrears.
"It was a good trip," explained Joel Rosario, who was aboard 2013 Distaff runner-up Close Hatches. "I was on the outside. We were wide but looking good on the first turn; very calm and relaxed. Everything was fine. On the backside she was very comfortable until I hit the three and a half and she just didn't move forward. She just kind of wasn't herself."
"I didn't like her position around the first turn, but I wouldn't say that's why we ran so dismal," added Close Hatches' trainer, Bill Mott. "At the three-eighths pole, we had a length on Untapable. Our intent was to try to get the first run on her and we had no run at all. I can't offer any excuse other than she looks like maybe she's had enough."
Untapable is out of the Grade 2-winning Prized mare Fun House, making her a half-sister to Grade 1-scoring millionaire and 2010 Kentucky Derby third-placer Paddy O'Prado. Her third dam is Carols Christmas, from whom a whole slew of black-type runners are descended. Among that group are Grade 1-winning millionaires and sires Olympio and Pyro; 2012 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile victor Tapizar; and Grade 1-scoring stallion Cuvee.
Others of note in this female family include Fun House's half-brother Early Flyer, a Grade 2-winning sire, and Grade 1 vixen On Fire Baby.
Click here for the transcript from the winning connections.
Goldencents a gutsy repeat winner of BC Dirt Mile
In the stretch Goldencents understandably saw his lead diminish to 1 1/2 lengths, and he drifted out a touch while obviously fatigued. However, his younger rival could not gain any appreciable ground late, and Goldencents went off into retirement at Spendthrift Farm on a high note with a successful 1 1/4-length title defense in a time of 1:35 over a fast track.
"I knew I was going fast and I had to find a way to give him a little break from the three-eighths to the quarter-pole. I was able to do that," Bejarano said. "When the other horse started to come to me, I held onto him just a little bit before I turned him loose. When I turned him loose, he fired big."
Rosie Napravnik, aboard Tapiture, said: "He really ran a courageous race. Turning into the stretch I really didnt think there was any way I could get beat. But Goldencents is a really good horse. He (my horse) kept fighting, but I just couldnt get by him."
Most likely the shortest-priced winner of a Breeders' Cup race this weekend, Goldencents paid $3.40 as the 7-10 favorite.
Tapiture finished five lengths clear of Pants On Fire, who was followed by Bronzo, Big Bane Theory, Carve, Fed Biz, Golden Ticket, and Vicar's in Trouble.
Jockey John Velazquez dismounted from Vicar's in Trouble after the colt pulled up lame.
Dr. Wayne McIlwraith subsequently reported that Vicar's in Trouble suffered an undisplaced condylar fracture in the left front fetlock.
The bay brought with him a case of seconditis, missing by a head in the six-furlong Bing Crosby, a length in the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien and a half-length in the six-furlong Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Goldencents stretched back out a bit for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and proved victorious when wiring that contest by 2 3/4 lengths in his penultimate start as a sophomore. He closed out 2013 with a sub-par seventh-placing in the November 30 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct and was given plenty of time to recover from the jam-packed season.
Goldencents made his four-year-old bow in the June 7 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, finishing second by a length, then cut that margin to just a half-length when runner-up in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar. He broke the seven-furlong track record at the San Diego area course when taking the Pat O'Brien by 4 1/4 lengths next out, and prepped for this repeat score with a nose second to Rich Tapestry in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Goldencents retired with a mark of 18-7-7-0, $3,044,000.
Bred in Kentucky by Rosecrest Farm and Karyn Pirrello, Goldencents brought $5,500 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall yearling before selling for $62,000 when going through the auction ring as the penultimate horse in the 2012 year's OBS June sale. He is out of the winning Banker's Gold mare Golden Works, who is herself a daughter of multiple stakes queen Body Works.
Canadian champion and 1983 Kentucky Derby winner Sunny's Halo is also part of the female family.
Click here for the transcript from the winning connections.
Hootenanny nabs Kitten, caps Ward exacta in Juvenile Turf
In all four prior starts, Hootenanny had shown plenty of early zip, and that presented a possible pace conundrum with Luck of the Kitten. But Hootenanny responded to Dettori's firm persuasion and settled in third. Meanwhile, Luck of the Kitten opened up through splits of :22 3/5 and :46 4/5 on the firm turf.
Taking closer order on the far turn through six furlongs in 1:11 1/5, Hootenanny had clear aim on his stablemate down the lane. Luck of the Kitten gamely dug in, but Hootenanny was too strong. He drove three-quarters of a length ahead and finished the mile in 1:34 3/5.
"This is just great," the trainer's father, Dennis Ward, said. "Everything went according to plan. Wesley is in Florida watching on television. Isn't that Frankie Dettori just great?
"It was my first time on him but I had seen him run in England, so I knew his style," said Dettori, who was winning his 11th Breeders' Cup race but first in four years. "He wasn't pulling. I got him settled. When I turned him on, I knew I had the race."
"This is what you dream about," Tabor said. "To campaign a horse in Europe and America and then win the Breeders' Cup, it makes the game very international. That's what it's all about.
Bred by Barronstown in Kentucky, Hootenanny was sold for $120,000 as a Keeneland November weanling, but brought just $75,000 as a yearling there the following September. He was produced by the Hennessy mare More Hennessy, who is herself a half-sister to Grade 1-winning sprinter Cat Moves and to stakes scorer Dance Hall Days. Hootenanny's third dam is Grade 1 vixen Dance Teacher, and the extended family includes multiple Grade 2 winners Gold Mover and High Limit.
Click here for the transcript from the winning connections.
Lady El-ectrifying in Juvenile Fillies Turf
"I'm so proud of her to see her run like this today," Brown said. "We developed these babies form scratch and I remember the first time I saw her breeze on the turf. It took my breath away. I told these guys (owners) she was something special and she proved out to be. It all worked out -- very proud and happy."
"It was really good," Ortiz said. "I got a perfect trip and can't complain. My filly broke good and I got a nice spot down inside, and then I broke through the hole when (Sunset Glow) came out. My filly flew right through there. I was patient and waited like the trainer told me and it worked out good for us. It feels great -- unbelievable."
Sunset Glow easily held runner-up honors in another fine showing for the Ward barn, which had the exacta in the Juvenile Turf.
"A win and two seconds -- pretty good day, huh," assistant trainer Blake Heap said. "It looks like all the horses ran good and you can't win them all.
"Was a little too fast early," Heap added of Sunset Glow. "We didn't want to go that fast but the 5-horse (Isabella Sings) was kind of pushing us along and the 4-horse (winner Lady Eli) got a perfect trip. All in all, a very good race."
"She broke a step slow," jockey Victor Espinoza said, "and I had to encourage her a little bit. She lugged in a little at the three-eighths pole and the other horse (winner) got through on the inside, but she ran great."
English shipper Osaila stayed on late to grab third, another 2 1/4 lengths back, with compatriot Prize Exhibit fourth.
"She's run great," jockey Frankie Dettori said of Osaila, "but for the first time on a track like this, she found the tight turns quite difficult, but she's run really well. I was trying to pick my way through some tight spots and when I finally got clear, the two U.S. horses just kicked on faster than mine."
French import Sivoliere ran a creditable fifth in her debut for Brown, her new owner Martin Schwartz, and Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens, in his first race back from total knee replacement surgery July 25.
"She's a good filly," Stevens said. "The turf is not as firm as you would think; they're definitely getting their toe in. I think she might actually want to go farther, she's so kind -- she'll do whatever you want."
The Kentucky-bred was sold twice, going for $160,000 as a Keeneland September yearling and bringing the same price as a two-year-old in training at Keeneland this April.
Lady Eli is a thoroughgoing product of Runnymede Farm and Catesby Clay. Her sire Divine Park and dam Sacre Coeur were themselves bred by Runnymede and Clay. Sacre Coeur, a winning daughter of Saint Ballado, is also responsible for multiple Grade 3 heroine Bizzy Caroline.
Lady Eli's second dam, French import Kazadancoa, was a terrific broodmare for the historic Paris, Kentucky, farm. She produced Grade 2 victress Changing Ways (herself the dam of Grade 2 winner Pays to Dream, stakes scorer Pumpkin Shell and Grade 2-placed Hot Attraction) as well as Grade 3 winners Jacodra's Devil and Jacodra.
But Kazadancoa has exerted an even greater influence through her unraced daughter Royal Run, the dam of Grade 2-winning millionaire and 1995 Kentucky Derby runner-up Tejano Run and Grade 2 victor More Royal. Royal Run is also the ancestress of Canadian champion Spring in the Air, Group 1 hero Palace Episode and Irish classic-placed Group 2 queen Laughing Lashes.
Click here for the transcript from the winning connections.
Breeders' Cup Previews
BREEDERS' CUP SATURDAY PREVIEWS
BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC (G1), 12TH-SA, $5,000,000, 3YO/UP, 1 1/4M, 8:35PM, 11-1
by James Scully
A full field of 14 will contest the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic and the main question confronting horse players is what to do with Shared Belief, who figures to be an overwhelming favorite following Grade 1 victories over older horses in the Pacific Classic and Awesome Again. He must be considered a serious win contender -- the possibility exists that he'll be able to overpower these rivals and extend his perfect record to eight -- but I won't take a short price as he makes his first start at 1 1/4 miles on dirt.
1ST -- BAYERN has turned in spectacular performances on dirt this year, recording runaway victories in the Woody Stephens, Haskell Invitational and Pennsylvania Derby since June, and he'll attempt to carry his razor-sharp form forward in the Classic. The three-year-old established a new track mark and earned a whopping 109 BRIS Speed rating while making his final Classic prep last time (Pennsylvania Derby) and Bayern doesn't appear to have skipped a beat since that start on September 20, posting four swift works at Santa Anita in the 42-day interim.
The Bob Baffert-trained colt faltered when trying 10 furlongs in the Travers, but that came over a deep track at Saratoga that plays differently at Santa Anita. He's out of a mare by Belmont Stakes winner Thunder Gulch and none of the last four Classic winners at Santa Anita -- Mucho Macho Man, Fort Larned, Zenyatta and Raven's Pass -- had won at 1 1/4 miles before.
Bayern is a serious threat to lead all the way but drew well in post 7, allowing jockey Martin Garcia the option to sit close if necessary before seizing control, similar to the speedy Beholder in last year's Distaff. The track at Santa Anita should play to his strengths and Bayern rates top billing.
2ND -- SHARED BELIEF was never challenged winning his first six starts, five of those daylight wins on synthetic tracks, but the September 27 Awesome Again at Santa Anita proved to be a different story. Granted, he got the job done following a rough trip in which he was forced widest of all every step of the way, but jockey Mike Smith called upon everything the gelding had to offer as Shared Belief was on his belly the entire length of the stretch en route to a neck decision.
Whether the grueling performance takes some starch out of Shared Belief remains to be seen, but the prospect of an extremely short price, against the deepest field he's faced in his short racing career, offers little appeal. Shared Belief remains a logical option for multi-race wagers, but I'll try to beat him for the win.
3RD -- ZIVO doesn't rate as a serious win contender, but the five-year-old exits an encouraging runner-up effort in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in which he was steadied repeatedly due to a loose horse. Trained by Chad Brown, the New York-bred strung together six straight wins, including a smart three-length tally in the 1 1/4-mile Suburban, prior to a fourth in the Woodward two back and the in-form closer has earned triple-digit BRIS Speed ratings in his last three starts. He can rally for a small share.
OTHERS -- TONALIST is eligible to outperform expectations, but I'm expecting more from him as a four-year-old. The late-blooming colt has recorded all three of his stakes wins at Belmont Park, where he relished the sweeping turns on the massive oval, and didn't fire his best efforts at Saratoga, registering lower BRIS Speed ratings in a pair of setbacks. The multiple Grade 1 victor could leave himself too much to do from off the pace.
CALIFORNIA CHROME, TOAST OF NEW YORK and CIGAR STREET also merit consideration for a minor award.
BREEDERS' CUP MILE (G1), 11TH-SA, $2,000,000, 3YO/UP, 1MT, 7:40PM, 11-1
In the absence of two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, the Mile is on the threshold of a new era. Or rather, a hearkening back to a former one, when the Europeans tended to hold the upper hand. As much of a warrior as Wise Dan has been, the Hall of Fame shoe-in wasn't beating much outside of his Breeders' Cup ventures, and the internationals look poised to overwhelm what's left of the home defense.
1ST -- TORONADO will be taken on by intrepid handicappers who demand value, but we can't bring ourselves to take a stand against this son of two-time Turf hero High Chaparral. Unlike some past Mile runners from the Richard Hannon yard, this exquisite miler has the athleticism to transfer his considerable game to the tighter contours of Santa Anita. Two of Toronado's best performances have come over the turning, and notoriously undulating, course at Goodwood. Swooping late in swashbuckling style to land the 2013 Sussex Stakes, he was a fine second to superstar Kingman as the defending champion there on July 30. Toronado bookended that effort with a smooth victory in his reappearance in the June 17 Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and a near-miss in the September 14 Prix du Moulin to gutsy sophomore Charm Spirit. The only two bad losses of his career were due to breathing problems that were surgically corrected last year, and he has otherwise been the soul of dependability.
Reportedly making a good impression during morning training hours at Santa Anita, Toronado has a high cruising speed that should help him to settle comfortably within striking range of a likely torrid pace. Barring a traffic snarl (which jockey Richard Hughes has suffered here before) he can deliver a lethal closing kick in his likely career finale, and end the Hannon shut-out at the Breeders' Cup.
2ND -- MUSTAJEEB is the type of progressive three-year-old who can spring the upset, giving renowned Irish trainer Dermot Weld an overdue first Breeders' Cup trophy and capping a remarkably successful year for Sheikh Hamdan. The well-bred son of Nayef has produced two top efforts going a one-turn, left-handed mile at Leopardstown. Uncorking a terrific rally to dust older foes in the May 11 Amethyst in his sophomore bow, Mustajeeb was most recently a close second to the in-form Bow Creek in the September 13 Clipper Boomerang Mile. That latest venture was his return from a three-month break, a mere prep ahead of his big autumn targets. In between his Leopardstown sorties, he was third to Kingman in the May 24 Irish Two Thousand Guineas on desperately soft going at the Curragh, and posted a good-looking score in the June 18 Jersey at Royal Ascot. These are deeper waters, but the exciting colt looks ripe for the challenge.
3RD -- ANODIN is better known for his family ties (full brother to three-time Mile legend Goldikova) and for his placings (behind the likes of Toronado, Cirrus des Aigles and Kingman) than for anything he's won himself. Like Goldikova, Anodin is a Wertheimer & Frere homebred trained by Freddie Head, and he's bay. But the similarities pretty much end there. A Group 3 winner during his sophomore campaign in 2013, Anodin has yet to show the brilliance of his sister, let alone scale her heights. He is, however, honest, genuine, and capable, and in the hurly-burly of a competitive field, those qualities can be rewarded. Head also strongly believes that Santa Anita will bring out the best in Anodin.
OTHERS -- VEDA would have been the top selection had she gone in the Filly & Mare Turf, so we had a moral crisis over trying to put the 12-1 shot in the top three here. At the risk of sounding like an arrogant whipper-snapper, however, we really wish that the Aga Khan's brain trust had given the green light for the longer race. Her runner-up efforts in the May 11 French One Thousand Guineas and the October 4 Prix Daniel Wildenstein (to Head's Hong Kong-bound older male Solow) put her squarely in the mix for the Mile. Yet the daughter of Dansili and the Trempolino mare Vadapolina (a two-time Group 3 winner in the vicinity of 1 1/4 miles) also appeared to be crying out for a step up in trip. Veda's been on our radar screen since her career debut. Even as we wring our hands over what might have been, we hope that she can jump up as a live longshot in the Mile.
Fellow Europeans KARAKONTIE and TRADE STORM have to play a much tougher hand. Karakontie's hopes were dealt a blow in post 14, while deep closer Trade Storm won't have nearly as much stretch to work with as he did when landing the September 14 Woodbine Mile (over KAIGUN).
If any American can serve as the super-sub for Wise Dan, it's TOM'S TRIBUTE, who is in career-best form at present. The Jim Cassidy charge equaled Wise Dan's record of 1:31.78 when rolling from well off the pace in the April 6 Thunder Road at this course and distance, and he exits back-to-back scores in the July 20 Eddie Read (beating SUMMER FRONT) and August 24 Del Mar Mile (with front runner extraordinaire OBVIOUSLY fourth).
SEEK AGAIN represents a more obvious tie-in to Wise Dan's form, but his poor post (12) and his recent propensity to find trouble leave us less than confident. The Bill Mott pupil was a badly-hampered sixth to Wise Dan in the October 4 Shadwell Turf Mile. With a clean passage, he would have finished a lot closer. After all, he was beaten only a head by Wise Dan in their prior meeting in the May 3 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. And Seek Again had previously beaten the placegetters in the Shadwell, GRAND ARCH and SAYAAD, in his course record-setting win in the August 9 Fourstardave at Saratoga. Stablemate TOURIST has a great deal of upside in principle, but post 13 -- and the problem of being a confirmed pace factor in a race with Obviously -- could be too much for the talented three-year-old.
Obviously hasn't managed to wire the Mile in two prior tries, and even though he's trying a new tack to enter off a break, we suspect he's just not up to winning this. The also-eligible MR. COMMONS was fifth in his two previous attempts in 2011-12, and it's difficult to envision him improving on those results at this stage in his career.
BREEDERS' CUP SPRINT (G1), 10TH-SA, $1,500,000, 3YO/UP, 6F, 7:01PM, 11-1
by Vance Hanson
One of the most difficult races to decipher on Breeders' Cup Saturday, the $1.5 million Sprint could go any number of ways. This is best reflected on the morning line, with 2013 winner Secret Circle only a mild 9-2 early choice in a field of 14, with two also-eligibles hoping to draw in.
1ST -- Only a winner of a California-bred allowance when the year began, BIG MACHER developed into one of Southern California's leading sprinters this season. He fared particularly well during Santa Anita's winter-spring meet, landing the California Cup Sprint and Potrero Grande, and only narrowly losing the San Carlos to the classy Sahara Sky.
Following a three-month break, Big Macher returned to the winner's circle following the Bing Crosby at Del Mar, but threw in one of the worst clunkers of his career over the same track in the Pat O'Brien a month later.
Trainer Richard Baltas purposely skipped the main local prep, the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, in order to have the four-year-old gelding in peak condition for the Breeders' Cup, and judging by several of his recent works (six furlongs in 1:11 2/5 and five furlongs in :58 3/5), the son of Beau Genius is looking solid indeed.
Never worse than second in five starts over the Santa Anita strip, Big Macher breaks from post 10 and figures to sit behind a blistering pace before making a contending bid. At 12-1 in the morning line, he's the value play.
2ND -- A lightly-raced three-year-old, FAST ANNA faces a severe class test stepping up to face older horses for the first time. However, the son of Medaglia d'Oro is capable of putting up some severely wicked fractions.
A blowout winner of his first two starts at Gulfstream earlier in the year, the Kathy Ritvo charge nearly stole the seven-furlong King's Bishop at Saratoga after setting a moderate pace of :22 4/5 and :46.
More was required of him in the early stages of the Gallant Bob at Parx in September, where he dueled through early splits of :21 1/5 and :43 1/5 over a lightning-fast strip that was yielding track records. He didn't win, but his second-place finish was good enough to have won a lot of major stakes this year.
Fast Anna did not get a favorable draw -- post 12 -- but a sharp break puts him in an ideal position outside the other speed. He enters with a profile similar to that of Trinniberg, the three-year-old who upset the 2012 Sprint after losses in the King's Bishop and Gallant Bob.
3RD -- Hong Kong-based RICH TAPESTRY pulled off the 7-1 upset of the Santa Anita Sprint Championship on October 4, nipping Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile favorite Goldencents by a nose in his U.S. debut. He faces a deeper cast this time, but based on that race he is most deserving of respect.
Unraced for more than five months prior to the Sprint Championship, Rich Tapestry was previously a Group 3 winner on turf in Hong Kong and a Group 2 scorer over the former Tapeta surface at Meydan in Dubai. He was also a close second in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night. However, he had run on dirt previously in a pair of handicaps at Sha Tin in 2012, winning both times.
Rich Tapestry figures to get a trip similar to the one he had last time, stalking a swift pace and hoping the speed backs up a bit. Barring unforeseen traffic problems, he should have every chance.
OTHERS -- SECRET CIRCLE was in need of a race when a tiring third in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, his first start since February, but doesn't appear to be coming into this race as strongly as he did last year. This edition looks tougher.
PRIVATE ZONE enters off a repeat victory in the Vosburgh at Belmont Park, but hasn't won in four previous tries on this track and was well-beaten in this event last year. Chicago-based WORK ALL WEEK is actually undefeated in nine starts on dirt and was a solid winner of the Phoenix at Keeneland in his final prep.
PALACE, the East's leading sprinter for much of the summer, will attempt to rebound off a third in the Vosburgh, but New York-based sprinters have often had difficulty replicating their home form at Santa Anita.
BREEDERS' CUP TURF (G1), 9TH-SA, $3,000,000, 3YO/UP, 1 1/2MT, 6:22PM, 11-1
The Breeders' Cup Turf might have lost its defending champion in Magician, but it's still packed with star power. Given the quality of the Europeans' depth chart compared to ours, the 1 1/2-mile prize looks destined to travel across the Atlantic yet again. The most pressing handicapping task is to identify the likeliest European to do the honors, and one name rises over the horizon.
1ST -- TELESCOPE simply annihilated them in the June 21 Hardwicke at Royal Ascot, amply justifying the hype that has long enveloped him. If he can even come close to duplicating that effort in similar conditions, no one in this field could live with him. The Sir Michael Stoute colt was a onetime antepost favorite for the 2013 Epsom Derby, only to have his sophomore campaign bedeviled by injury. He did manage to make the Great Voltigeur last summer, and his fluent victory hinted that he was at his best going 1 1/2 miles on quick ground. Telescope didn't get those conditions again until his third start off the layoff in the Hardwicke, where he romped by seven lengths from stablemate Hillstar (the eventual winner of the Canadian International). The son of Galileo hasn't gotten those conditions in his two ensuing starts, but still turned in honorable efforts in defeat. On ground with a little more give than he likes in the July 26 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth back at Ascot, he was best of the rest behind Oaks heroine Taghrooda (later third in the Arc). In the August 20 Juddmonte International at York, Telescope loved the firmish going, but couldn't quite cope with the shorter 1 5/16-mile trip, and deferred to all-star sophomores Australia and The Grey Gatsby.
Connections resisted the lure of the Arc, and Stoute methodically mapped his way to Santa Anita, where Telescope will have his optimal working environment. Brilliant jockey Ryan Moore will have also worked out a game plan from his rail post. With his useful tactical speed, Telescope figures to be stalking early before delivering the coup de grace. He could give the Stoute/Moore tandem a huge double following stablemate Dank in the Filly & Mare Turf.
2ND -- FLINTSHIRE, most recently runner-up to history-making Treve in the Arc, has a hefty stat in his favor. Arc losers have come back later in the fall to win this race no fewer than nine times (including Miss Alleged, who ran in the 1991 Washington D.C. International in between). From the ever-dangerous Andre Fabre yard, Flintshire has yet to finish out of the top two on his preferred good ground. His resume includes a victory in last year's Grand Prix de Paris as well as a second to the venerable Cirrus des Aigles in the June 7 Coronation Cup at Epsom. The Juddmonte homebred promises to perform right up to his best here, and would be an eminently logical winner. We can't escape the feeling, though, that he might lack the panache of a Telescope in full flight.
3RD -- CHICQUITA perhaps should have come here straight off her 15th in the Arc (from post 18), but the $8 million Goffs purchase is too talented to ignore. To be sure, the daughter of Montjeu has mad quirks to go along with her ability, and we wouldn't be surprised to see either the best or worst of her here. She has a penchant for veering toward the grandstand, and as an equal-opportunity wanderer, she has done this at both right- and left-handed tracks, for former trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre as well as current trainer Aidan O'Brien. Second to the mighty Treve in last year's French Oaks, she nearly threw away the Irish Oaks with this behavior, but held on to break her maiden. Chicquita arguably did throw away her latest venture, the October 18 British Champions Fillies' and Mares' at Ascot, and wound up third after her costly drift. Laboring on the heavy going that day could have left its mark, and this does loom as an afterthought. But she only recently returned from a 14-month layoff in September, finishing a sharp second to the now-retired Tarfasha, so could be comparatively fresher than most this time of year. And new rider Frankie Dettori could be just the forceful pilot she needs to set, and keep her, straight.
OTHERS -- MAIN SEQUENCE is the most accomplished of the American-based runners, but HARDEST CORE is a more attractive 10-1 for under-the-radar connections. The Eddie Graham charge readily disposed of a subpar Magician in the August 16 Arlington Million, begging the question of how he would have fared among the usual suspects in the division's other major races this summer and fall. Hardest Core was an emphatic winner of Delaware's Cape Henlopen in his only prior attempt at this distance, and the up-and-comer could have still more scope to progress.
Main Sequence was thoroughly exposed during his former career in England. Even allowing for the magnificent training job here by Graham Motion, and his possibly benefiting from Lasix, his Grade 1 hat trick since his repatriation could be read as an indictment of the U.S. turf scene. His class relief on these shores has now ended, along with his successful partnership with Rajiv Maragh (due to injury). Main Sequence picks up the services of Hall of Famer John Velazquez, and he will be closing late. But he could also be an underlay based on overvaluing of his U.S. record.
Likely pacesetter IMAGINING and TWILIGHT ECLIPSE haven't figured out a way to beat Main Sequence yet. BROWN PANTHER is a top-class English stayer, but could find life difficult among 12-furlong specialists on a firm, turning course. HANGOVER KID and the trio from the September 28 John Henry Turf Championship -- FINNEGANS WAKE, BIG JOHN B and STARSPANGLED HEAT -- all look overmatched.
BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE (G1), 8TH-SA, $2,000,000, 2YO, C/G, 1 1/16M, 5:43PM, 11-1
by James Scully
Fifteen of the last 18 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winners were named champion two-year-old male and the 1 1/16-mile race often determines the winter-book Kentucky Derby favorite. Morning-line choice American Pharoah was withdrawn Tuesday due to a foot bruise, but an exciting field of 12 remains.
1ST -- CARPE DIEM impressed when recording making his two-turn debut in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, posting a widening 6 1/4-length decision, and the son of Giant's Causeway displayed a new dimension rating just off the early pace. The Todd Pletcher trainee captured his first start, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint at Saratoga, in wire-to-wire fashion.
His acceleration was eye-catching and Carpe Diem registered an excellent 100 BRIS Speed rating last time. He figures to put his tactical speed to good use in this spot, dropping in behind the first flight of runners in midpack during the early stages, and a hot pace seems certain. That should play favorably for his late kick and Carpe Diem will look to make his move on the far turn. Jockey John Velazquez retains the mount on the promising colt.
2ND -- SOUPER COLOSSAL has been off since late August, but New Year's Day returned from a similar layoff to capture last year's Juvenile and there's plenty to like about Souper Colossal's chances. By top young sire War Front and out of a Kingmambo mare, the Eddie Plesa-trained colt made a seamless transition to two turns last time, scoring easily by 5 1/2 lengths in a Monmouth Park stakes race, and his BRIS Speed numbers have been increasing.
The unbeaten colt could prove to be the speed of the speed Saturday with regular rider Paco Lopez, and Souper Colossal appears to be training forwardly at Santa Anita, recording a five-furlong work (:59 2/5) on Monday that impressed onlookers. He's a threat to last a long way.
3RD -- ONE LUCKY DANE dropped his first two starts on Del Mar's Polytrack but discovered his best form when trying the dirt track at Santa Anita, romping home to a 9 1/2-length score at two turns. He covered a lot of ground with his massive strides and One Lucky Dane must be considered a serious Kentucky Derby prospect for Bob Baffert, a three-time winner of the race.
The Juvenile won't be easy given the seasoning advantage and talent that some of his rivals possess, but we may not have seen the best of One Lucky Dane either. He should be up close stalking the pace with regular rider Rafael Bejarano and the son of Lookin at Lucky rates as an intriguing upset contender in his first start against winners.
OTHERS -- DAREDEVIL will show speed from his outside post and can't be dismissed from consideration, but he'll be making his two-turn debut and first start on a fast track. Will still include him underneath in the exotics. MR. Z is an interesting longshot (20-1 morning line) for the gimmicks. The Malibu Moon colt exits an encouraging second in the Breeders' Futurity for D. Wayne Lukas and has posted some decent BRIS Speed ratings.
BREEDERS' CUP TURF SPRINT (G1), 7TH-SA, $1,000,000, 3YO/UP, *6 1/2FT, 5:05PM, 11-1
by Vance Hanson
For those with unlimited funds, the "ALL" button might come in handy for this renewal of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint over Santa Anita's about 6 1/2-furlong downhill turf course. An unbelievably tough handicapping exercise, a case can be made for virtually everyone in the field. As in years past, our focus will be on those with positive prior experience over the course and/or distance.
1ST -- Although he finished in a dead heat for second in last year's Turf Sprint with the filly Reneesgotzip, TIGHTEND TOUCHDOWN is going to offer at least twice the price as that one, who drew a tough spot on the rail. Ignored at 18-1 in 2013, most likely due to not having run over the local turf, the chestnut gelding handled the course remarkably well. Tracking Reneesgotzip from second all the way down the hill, he eventually finished on even terms with that one while losing by a half-length to the brilliant Turf Sprint repeater Mizdirection.
Tightend Touchdown turned in his worst performance since beginning his stakes career when eighth in the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint in February, but had a legitimate excuse after getting bumped at the break. He rebounded to take the Pennsylvania Governor's Cup at Penn National for a second time, ran the iconic Ben's Cat to a nose decision in the Parx Dash, and then might have been a tad short when third in the Turf Monster Handicap over wet ground on Labor Day.
A gem of consistency for most of his stakes career, he'll have every chance to get a trip similar to the one he had a year ago, and perhaps can fend off the late surges from various locally-based hopefuls.
2ND -- The beaten favorite in the one-mile Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf a year ago when setting too fast a pace, BOBBY'S KITTEN might find the cut back to sprinting helpful. A top miler in the three-year-old ranks this term, the Chad Brown trainee fared well when taking on older rivals for the first time in the Woodbine Mile, finishing 2 1/4 lengths third to the globetrotting Trade Storm.
Bobby's Kitten won't be showing as much early speed here as others are far quicker, but he should be well-placed in mid-pack and might get the jump on some of the other serious stalkers and closers. He's unlikely to get leg-weary as this will be the shortest distance he will have ever raced over.
3RD -- RENEESGOTZIP ran third here in 2012 and in a dead heat for second in 2013, but it might be a little tougher for the speedball mare this time as she drew post 1. She'll have to come out winging to protect her position coming down the hill, and the threat exists that other speed benefiting from outside posts might snatch the early advantage from her.
The five-year-old has raced just twice since last year's Turf Sprint, finishing third to an in-form Judy the Beauty in the Rancho Bernardo, and then blowing the doors off lesser in a restricted stakes at Del Mar. Worse than third only once in 15 starts, that in the 2012 Santa Anita Sprint Championship, she'll be difficult to keep out of the frame.
OTHERS -- SWEET SWAP is certain to be overlooked despite having won the San Simeon and Joe Hernandez here at the winter-spring meet, and the only question is whether he will be fit enough off a layoff approaching seven months. HOME RUN KITTEN and AMBITIOUS BREW, one-two in the opening day Eddie D, are also logical course-and-distance specialists.
Multiple Grade 2 winner SILENTIO has won or placed in eight of nine starts over this course, but the miler doesn't have a lot of experience sprinting. The Wesley Ward-trained duo of NO NAY NEVER and UNDRAFTED have made their marks both stateside and in Europe, but concede crucial experience over this course.
SOMETHNG EXTRA, DIMENSION, CASPAR NETSCHER, MARCHMAN, and AGELESS are all capable of making noise if they handle the course.
BREEDERS' CUP FILLY & MARE SPRINT (G1), 6TH-SA, $1,000,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 7F, 4:21PM, 11-1
by Vance Hanson
The $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint has attracted only a field of 10, but there is a lot riding on the outcome of the seven-furlong dash. In its first seven runnings, the winner has gone on to be named champion female sprinter six times, including two-time champion Groupie Doll.
1ST -- Second to Groupie Doll in the Filly & Mare Sprint last year was JUDY THE BEAUTY, who is on target to make amends for owner-trainer Wesley Ward. Since her half-length defeat a year ago, the Ghostzapper mare has won three of four, taking the Las Flores at Santa Anita, Madison at Keeneland, and Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar in fine style.
The only sub-par effort from Judy the Beauty this term was the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day. Ward took the blame for her loss, a fourth-place effort by six lengths to Midnight Lucky, who was withdrawn from this race and retired last week. Ward said he had been on the fence whether to run her back so quickly following the Madison three weeks earlier. In hindsight, he said he would have given her more time between starts.
Judy the Beauty hasn't run since August 17, so she should be fresh as a daisy for this. The main concern is she doesn't typically enjoy getting caught between rivals while running, which Ward speculated might have caused a delay in her uncorking a bid against Groupie Doll last year.
2ND -- Canadian champion LEIGH COURT enters off one of the best last-race preps, a three-length demolition of her rivals in the Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland. A speedball on Polytrack and grass, she reverted to her old stalk-and-pounce ways returning to dirt and was helpfully aided by a fast pace.
A winner in six of seven starts around one turn, Leigh Court enters in peak form and figures once again to get a strong setup. She's perfect in three starts at this seven-furlong distance and obviously has few faults.
3RD -- The three-year-old STONETASTIC was among the dueling leaders in the Thoroughbred Club of America, and simply didn't have enough left in the tank to fend off Leigh Court in the final furlong or so.
A dynamite winner of the Prioress at Saratoga against her peers two back, she would seem better suited to six furlongs having lost all four of her outings beyond that distance. However, with the defection of Midnight Lucky, she now looks like the primary speed of the field and could take them a long way if she can shake loose early. We'll keep her in the minor slots due to distance, but she remains the one to catch.
OTHERS -- The sophomore ARTEMIS AGROTERA is one of the top contenders for the divisional title after beating older rivals in both the Ballerina and Gallant Bloom Handicap. However, she had to turn in a Forego-like rally to win after a very slow start, neededing every yard to overtake a rival that had insanely gone out in :21 3/5 and :43 3/5. She's undefeated under a mile, but didn't run particularly well here in the Breeders' Cup last year and might be on the downward part of her form cycle.
SWEET REASON, another three-year-old, captured the Acorn and Test before finishing a solid second to Untapable in the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion. The highly-consistent filly certainly fits, but seems a notch slower than her older rivals. LIVING THE LIFE, a former mainstay on the all-weather courses of England, is undefeated in two U.S. starts. She won the Presque Isle Downs Masters, which has yielded numerous winners of this race, but we'll take a stand against her having not raced on dirt before.
BREEDERS' CUP FILLY & MARE TURF (G1), 5TH-SA, $2,000,000, 3YO/UP, F/M, 1 1/4MT, 3:43PM, 11-1
No Filly & Mare Turf champion has come back to repeat the following year, a factoid that reigning titleholder DANK may consign to oblivion.
Until earlier this week, however, that statistic appeared bound to stand firm. Sidelined since June, and with only two starts since last fall's heroics at Santa Anita, Dank has not exactly had an ideal preparation. Her abbreviated campaign was sure to cost her at the Breeders' Cup, and continue the pattern of past F&M Turf winners who were beaten in their title defense -- Banks Hill (2001), Ouija Board (2004, who lost in 2005 but came back to win in 2006), Forever Together (2008), Midday (2009) and Shared Account (2010).
We were all set to oppose her with European sophomores Veda and Tarfasha. But both defected, with Tarfasha heading into retirement and Veda sticking to the Mile. Dank's task was considerably eased, while our task of trying to beat her ending up hitting a brick wall.
1ST -- DANK is the best horse in the race, and if anyone can get her back to peak fitness off the 4 1/2-month holiday, it's her master trainer, Sir Michael Stoute. Aside from her Eclipse Award-winning season of 2013, highlighted by victories in the Beverly D. (in virtual course record-equaling time at Arlington) and the F&M Turf, Dank has mixed it up in two of the world's toughest races this year. She returned from a similar break in the March 29 Dubai Duty Free, where she was a hard-charging, troubled third to Japan's superstar Just a Way, who smashed Meydan's course mark for about 1 1/8 miles. Dank next tried the June 18 Prince of Wales's over 1 1/4 miles at Royal Ascot, finishing fifth behind The Fugue, Magician and Treve -- in another course record.
A foot injury derailed her in the interim, but she has reportedly been pleasing Stoute of late. She maintains her partnership with all-world jockey Ryan Moore, who interestingly told Daily Racing Form's Marcus Hersh that Dank was his best winning chance at the Breeders' Cup.
2ND -- STEPHANIE'S KITTEN, the best of the American hopes, is most likely to capitalize if Dank doesn't fire her best. Among the leaders of her division for four straight years, the Ramseys' homebred daughter of Kitten's Joy has already won a Breeders' Cup trophy, in the 2011 Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill. Stephanie's Kitten has hurt her own cause a few times this season by dropping too far back early. That was a major contributing factor in the August 16 renewal of the Beverly D., where she flashed home off an early crawl for second to European sophomore Euro Charline (who's nice but no Dank). Stephanie's Kitten took up a far better tactical position in the September 27 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont -- historically the most productive prep for this race -- and delivered her trademark kick to win convincingly. We're slightly concerned by her drawing post 10 here, for she's in danger of dropping back off another tepid pace, or of covering a lot of extra ground throughout.
3RD -- SECRET GESTURE might prefer a little more ground, but the Galileo filly has been a model of consistency in salty company. Runner-up in both the 2013 Epsom and German Oaks, and third to The Fugue in the Yorkshire Oaks, Secret Gesture kicked off 2014 with a bang-up second to globetrotter Ambivalent in the May 15 Middleton at York. The Ralph Beckett trainee was expected to dominate lesser foes in the June 16 Warwickshire Oaks, but had to dig a bit before quickening in the final strides. Secret Gesture showed a similarly battling attitude versus males in the July 26 York Stakes, where she was just outpaced late by Sheikhzayedroad (subsequently the winner of Woodbine's Northern Dancer Turf). Her third in the August 24 Prix Jean Romanet was solid enough at a boggy Deauville, and she'll appreciate better conditions at Santa Anita. A pick-up mount by Irish champion jockey Pat Smullen, Secret Gesture is a forwardly-placed type who will stay on doggedly for the duration.
OTHERS -- ABACO has bomb potential at 15-1, while Europeans JUST THE JUDGE and FIESOLANA are likely to make their presence felt. Abaco has strong formlines with Stephanie's Kitten, capped by a closing second in the Flower Bowl. The Shug McGaughey mare has yet to finish worse than second in three starts at this trip, and she will be doing her best work late.
Just the Judge has high-class European form, and finished third to Euro Charline and Stephanie's Kitten in the loaded Beverly D., but she's wheeling back quickly off a score in the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine October 19. While we have a lot of respect for her, we would have liked her better if it weren't for her rapid turnaround plan. Her fellow Qatar Racing colorbearer, Secret Gesture, has the benefit of coming in fresh. Fiesolana has high-class form at a mile, as evidenced by her rapier-like verdict in the September 13 Matron at Leopardstown, but has yet to prove herself at this level over the 10-furlong trip. A relatively steady pace could put the premium on finishing speed, which she has in abundance.
DAYATTHESPA faces a tall task to stretch her cruising speed farther than ever before, especially versus such accomplished international competition. Of those coming out of the Rodeo Drive -- EMOLLIENT, PARRANDA, RUSTY SLIPPER and IRISH MISSION -- the latter holds the most appeal. The Christophe Clement-trained Irish Mission rallied excellently after being shuffled back at a crucial point. Nevertheless, the Rodeo Drive (formerly known as the Yellow Ribbon) has historically been a weak indicator for this race.
BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE FILLIES (G1), 4TH-SA, $2,000,000, 2YO, F, 1 1/16M, 3:05PM, 11-1
Unless a major longshot crosses the wire first, this year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies will be the deciding factor in who is honored with an Eclipse Award as the champion two-year-old filly of 2014. That's not always been the case, but this crop is very well-matched, resulting in an array of Grade 1 winners who could never put away their opponents with any sort of authority.
Experience could be the deciding factor on Saturday -- experience over the track and at the 1 1/16-mile distance -- leaving a very clear cut choice for the top spot.
1ST -- ANGELA RENEE is the only filly in the 12-strong field with a win over both track and distance. That came in the Grade 1 Chandelier on September 27, the traditional local prep for the Juvenile Fillies that could very well live up to its billing this year.
Angela Renee tracked the pace through the opening half-mile before commencing her run. The Todd Pletcher trainee took command and held a two-length lead in the lane that was whittled down to 1 1/2 lengths by Conquest Eclipse on the wire.
Angela Renee was making her Santa Anita bow in that spot, having begun her career on the East Coast at Belmont Park. She took her maiden debut on June 27 at Big Sandy, then finished second while facing stakes rivals for the first time in Saratoga's Grade 2 Adirondack. The Bernardini miss returned just 21 days later at the Spa to be third following a bumpy start in the Grade 1 Spinaway.
Each of those races provided a gradual progression in distance, culminating when Angela Renee stretched out to 1 1/16 mile in the Chandelier. She earned a 91 BRIS Speed rating for the win, which was actually lower than the 97 she garnered for her Adirondack effort, but it's still on par with this group. John Velazquez rode the bay filly up until she made her West Coast debut, and takes back the reins on Saturday.
2ND -- In sticking with the theme of track and distance, CONQUEST ECLIPSE could use her experience in the Chandelier to make an impact here as well.
The Malibu Moon filly broke her maiden at Churchill Downs, was given a brief rest, then returned to be a rallying third in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on August 30. Though she took her debut in front-running fashion, the Mark Casse pupil displayed a late running style in her past two and seemed to relish the added distance of the Chandelier.
Conquest Eclipse has been working well at Santa Anita since her last race and recorded a bullet five furlongs in :58 3/5 two weeks ago. Corey Nakatani will be aboard as the Kentucky-bred miss looks for her first stakes victory in this spot.
3RD -- Considering Angela Renee is 3-1 and Conquest Eclipse is 4-1 on the morning-line, PUCA might add some value to the exotics at 6-1 early odds.
Though the Bill Mott trainee has yet to face stakes rivals, she did run a close third to Lady Eli, who returned next out to romp in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo. Both those races, the maiden and stakes, were on the turf, but Puca broke her maiden on October 1 by 16 lengths over Belmont Park's dirt. She was even three wide on the turn while doing it, too.
That maiden score was enough for the Big Brown filly to earn a spot in the top three here, but she gets the added bonuses of first-time Lasix and Joel Rosario taking the mount. Taken all together, it could be enough to see Puca in the winner's circle at the end of the Juvenile Fillies.
OTHERS -- FEATHERED and CRISTINA'S JOURNEY appear too good to leave out completely and could add some value.
The former, another Pletcher trainee, wired her maiden by 9 3/4 lengths at Saratoga on August 31 before stretching out an extra furlong to be third in the one-mile Grade 1 Frizette behind the re-opposing BY THE MOON and WONDER GAL. Our biggest knock against Feathered is that she stayed in New York to train for this one and doesn't own a published work over the track.
Cristina's Journey is unbeaten in two starts thus far, including a 2 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs. Trainer Dale Romans shipped his Any Given Saturday filly to Santa Anita in time for some valuable experience in the form of a couple of nice moves over the track. The bay lass appears to be still improving while flying under the radar.
Like Feathered, By the Moon enters this race having no formal moves over the track, and that could cost her despite her obvious talent. Trainer Leah Gyarmati shipped Wonder Gal into Santa Anita in time for one work after the Frizette, and the Tiz Wonderful miss gets Mike Smith in the irons. It wouldn't be a surprise to see her closing again at the end.
INTERNATIONALS IN THE BREEDERS' CUP
NOVEMBER 1, 2014
Following on the heels of the Breeders' Cup Friday report, here's the briefing on the international team set for Saturday.
BREEDERS' CUP SATURDAY
Filly & Mare Turf
SECRET GESTURE is a game and genuine performer who has come up a bit short on the big occasion, perhaps just lacking that unassailable turn of foot. A leading contender for the 2013 Oaks after a 10-length romp on soggy ground at Lingfield, the Galileo filly was upstaged by her lesser-fancied stablemate Talent at Epsom. Secret Gesture next went for classic compensation in the German Oaks, only to suffer a tough beat in second again. She ended her sophomore year with a distant third to The Fugue in the Yorkshire Oaks and a subpar last in the Prix de l'Opera -- the only time this admirable filly has ever finished unplaced. The pattern of useful efforts just shy of the mountaintop has continued into 2014. In the May 15 Middleton at York, Secret Gesture was cruising on the bridle to challenge Ambivalent, but that accomplished globetrotter (now a Melbourne Cup hope) found extra to put her away comfortably. Trainer Ralph Beckett prescribed class relief for the June 16 Warwickshire Oaks, but she had to work harder than expected to get up by a half-length from Wall of Sound (who would go on to finish fourth to Just the Judge in the E.P. Taylor). Tackling males in the July 26 York Stakes, she uncharacteristically set the pace, was headed by Godolphin's Windhoek, fought back, but got nipped by Sheikhzayedroad (who went on to win Woodbine's Northern Dancer Turf). Secret Gesture was convincingly outkicked by Ribbons in the August 24 Prix Jean Romanet on very soft going at Deauville, a result that looks better after Ribbon's near-miss in the Prix de l'Opera on Arc Day. Secret Gesture is one of two Qatar Racing colorbearers here, along with Just the Judge (in partnerships with Newsells Park and the Sangster Family, respectively). Secret Gesture's best Breeders' Cup chance might have been in a theoretical 1 1/2-mile race for distaffers. Her own divisional race is a tad short of ideal. Nevertheless, her great attitude could land her in the exotics.
FIESOLANA has been a remarkable success story for Irish trainer Willie McCreery, but it's worth noting that he really wanted her in the Mile. When the F&M Turf was officially listed as her first preference, I initially thought that it was because she earned an automatic berth by capturing the Matron. But her owners, the Niarchos Family's Flaxman Holdings, also have Karakontie in the Mile, so perhaps it's a case of desiring to split them up. In any event, Fiesolana hasn't raced over this far a trip since her old French days with Jean-Claude Rouget. McCreery brought her to Ireland for her 2013 campaign and developed her into a consistent performer at the Group level. A rare flop last season was her sixth in the 1 1/8-mile Kilboy Estate, beaten five lengths by Dank. Fiesolana capped her breakthrough year with a sharp score over males in the seven-furlong Challenge at Newmarket. Relaxed off the early pace while traveling best, she quickened well to prevail by two lengths. McCreery thought that would be her finale for him, as she was subsequently sold for more than $1.65 million at Tattersalls in December. But her new owners kept Fiesolana with him. After coming down with an infection in early 2014, she understandably took time to round into form, yet she still performed creditably. Fiesolana hinted that she was back with a fine third in the August 10 Prix Maurice de Gheest, where she was up on the pace throughout on heavy ground. Next time out in the September 13 Matron, she capitalized on her ideal set-up to notch a coveted Group 1: buried behind horses early, she was full of run in the stretch, knifed through a seam, and outkicked a high-class yardstick in Rizeena. She can be forgiven her most recent seventh in the Prix de la Foret, a messy race in which she never factored from off the pace. The BC Mile could have unfolded for her much like her career-best in the Matron, held around a turn at left-handed Leopardstown. It's questionable whether Fiesolana would offer the same kind of kick in the 1 1/4-mile F&M Turf. On the other hand, the steady pace could turn it into a sprint to the wire, and she won't mind that at all.
Filly & Mare Sprint
LIVING THE LIFE comes off a rallying victory in her stakes debut for Gary Mandella in the September 8 Presque Isle Downs Masters. That was far and away the signature win for this former handicapper, who plied her trade in the blue-collar world of winter all-weather racing in England. Initially sharing the same owner/trainer connections as Toast of New York (see the Classic), Living the Life was purchased by American Anglophile Hank Nothhaft earlier this year and transferred to Phil McEntee. The nicely-bred filly repaid the investment with four fine efforts over Lingfield's Polytrack, culminating in a 3 1/2-length romp in the lucrative "All-Weather Fillies' and Mares' Championships" on April 18. Despite its grandiose title, that was a conditions race, not a stakes. Living the Life also benefited from a canny ride by all-weather ace Adam Kirby. Immediately admitting that he "had a freebie" on the front end, Kirby craftily opened up turning for home, and no one could catch her. Living the Life didn't race again until Del Mar and Presque Isle, where she put her synthetic proficiency to good use. The Presque Isle Masters has been a useful stepping stone to this race in the past, but it's doubtful whether she'll cope with the big guns on the dirt at Santa Anita. Although she certainly has earned her chance to try, it's difficult to see her as anything other than a substitute for Nothhaft's brilliant speedball Kindle, who hasn't worked since May.
CASPAR NETSCHER strikes while the iron is hot, fresh off his late-running heroics in the October 19 Nearctic at Woodbine, and he's capable of turning the double. Trained by the shrewd David Simcock, who has similarly plundered North America with the likes of Trade Storm (see the Mile), Sheikhzayedroad, and I'm a Dreamer, Caspar Netscher is a textbook case of a horse who has been taking incremental steps forward with each start this campaign. By Dutch Art, the sire of current sprint supremo Slade Power, the five-year-old didn't resume until August. He obviously needed the race in the Maurice de Gheest, then traveled in contention before being outkicked late in both the August 23 Hopeful and the September 6 Haydock Sprint Cup (where he ran much better than his 100-1 odds). Caspar Netscher improved again in the October 4 Bengough at Ascot, striking the front only to tire on ground that was softer than preferable. Everything came together for him at Woodbine -- race fitness, a fast pace, good ground -- and he showed his old sparkle. That really was an old sparkle, for he was winning for the first time since he returned from a failed stint at stud in 2013. This marks his second Breeders' Cup appearance, having tried the 2011 Juvenile Turf for original trainer Alan McCabe. The impressive winner of that season's Gimcrack and Mill Reef, he was given rave reviews by Kieren Fallon, but didn't do himself justice at Churchill Downs. Caspar Netscher rebounded with a successful 2012 campaign, capturing the Greenham and the German Two Thousand Guineas and posting an honorable fifth in an all-star Jacques le Marois at Deauville -- to Excelebration, Cityscape, Elusive Kate, and Moonlight Cloud. That's a formline to envy, and now he's back to his best.
THE GREAT WAR is taking a speculative shot on the dirt for Aidan O'Brien, who freely admits that he hasn't run up to his home reputation. On the plus side, he is a close relative of Departing, a multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire on dirt. The $1 million Keeneland September yearling purchase is by Departing's sire War Front and out of the Pulpit mare Guide, who is a full sister to Departing's dam Leave. The Great War looked like a budding star for Ballydoyle when simply coasting in his first two starts this spring. The bubble was burst, however, as he lost his way over the summer. Only fifth as the odds-on favorite in the June 19 Norfolk at Royal Ascot, he didn't lengthen at all when sixth behind the smashing Ivawood in the July Stakes. The Great War was in danger of being a disappointment, and a mistaken use of a name to mark this centenary of the outbreak of World War I. While he was beaten again in the August 23 Curragh Stakes, he at least showed a sign of life as a fast-finishing second to the useful filly Ainippe. His run in the September 11 Hamilton Insurance at Doncaster was better than it looks on paper. One of the co-highweights at 128 pounds, he produced a bold rally on the far side of the course, but couldn't sustain it and weakened late. The Great War finally regained the winning thread last time in the September 28 Blenheim at the Curragh, where he reveled in quicker ground than he's had of late. Joseph O'Brien took a confident look over his shoulder as the colt was striding effortlessly, and he picked up on cue to win handsomely from the promising filly Tamadhor. The Juvenile Turf would be a more natural option, but this offers a timely dirt experiment for a colt who could act on it. Even if he handles the surface, there are two significant worries: he's in the deep end against some serious-looking Kentucky Derby hopefuls, and taking a substantial step up in trip. The Great War is bred to cope with 1 1/16 miles. But O'Brien actually toyed with running him versus older horses in the five-furlong Prix de l'Abbaye on Arc Day, and such a great divergence in possible targets doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.
FLINTSHIRE has abundant logic in his favor -- the compelling strike rate of Arc losers in this race, his outstanding formlines, his top-two reliability in quicker conditions, and renowned connections as a Juddmonte homebred trained by the inimitable Andre Fabre. Yet as capable and well-qualified as he is, he doesn't quite fire the imagination of a flashier type like Telescope. A full brother to multiple stakes scorer and Group 2-placed Dance Moves, who just missed in the 15-furlong Prix Kergorlay in 2013, Flintshire also hails from the family of Spanish Moon, the 2009 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner and fourth in the BC Turf. The son of Dansili has kept to this 1 1/2-mile distance since the summer of 2013, when he crushed the Prix du Lys and readily disposed of a perhaps iffy group in the Grand Prix de Paris. He could have answered that critique of the form, but the weather went against him last fall. Unable to quicken on rain-softened ground, he cannot be held liable for his fourth in the Prix Niel or his eighth in the Arc. Not seen again until the June 7 Coronation Cup at Epsom, Flintshire traveled comfortably off the pace, was nudged to go after Cirrus des Aigles, and kicked on strongly, but not enough to reel in the venerable (and race-fit) gelding at the peak of his powers. Flintshire again was undone by soft going in the June 29 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, finishing fifth (later elevated to fourth via disqualification). Fabre intended to have a crack at the King George, but Flintshire spiked a fever and missed his midsummer engagement. Rested for the fall, Flintshire was a strong second to front-running Ruler of the World in the September 14 Prix Foy, doing well to reduce the gap late. He finally got his preferred ground for another try at the Arc, and lost no stature by beating all but the historic Treve. Flintshire will love the firm turf at Santa Anita, but he'll need to deploy it on a dime around a sharper course.
BROWN PANTHER ran off riderless prior to the October 19 Canadian International, prompting his last-minute withdrawal from the North American race that played more to his strengths. His breeder and co-owner Michael Owen, of English soccer fame, has been completely candid that Santa Anita won't suit the high-class stayer as well as the broad canvas of Woodbine. This isn't exactly a change in plan, since connections had previously held out the possibility of advancing from Woodbine to the Breeders' Cup. Still, the main reason for going to the Canadian International was to give the six-year-old his best shot at a top-level victory at 1 1/2 miles (the European classic distance), and thereby enhance his value as a stallion prospect. Otherwise, Brown Panther would be disregarded as a pure marathoner who needs at least 1 3/4 miles to excel in elite company. (He does own wins at 1 1/2 miles, but versus lesser, and his seventh to Danedream in the 2012 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth was on good-to-soft going.) Had he accomplished his mission at Woodbine, there would have been a great temptation to pass on Santa Anita, where he will meet a different type of course and far stiffer competition. Brown Panther has been a terrific campaigner over the years. Runner-up in the 2011 St Leger and victorious in the 2013 Goodwood Cup, he tried the Melbourne Cup at this time last year, was struck into and suffered cuts, and finished a creditable eighth. Brown Panther was back with a bang in May, outstaying Hillstar in the Ormonde at Chester and rolling home in the Henry II at Sandown. After a trio of solid efforts in defeat, he earned his first Group 1 tally in the September 14 Irish St Leger, with a brilliant assist from jockey Richard Kingscote. Sure of his mount's abundant stamina in the 1 3/4-mile affair, Kingscote had Brown Panther chase the Ballydoyle rabbit as they opened up a big lead on the rest of the field, made an early move, and delivered the coup de grace. Unlike the Canadian International, which could have been turned into a test of stamina, the BC Turf will be a test of finishing speed, and it's difficult to envision Brown Panther equaling the pace of a Telescope or Flintshire. While his sire, Shirocco, won the 2005 Turf, that came on a rain-affected course at Belmont, and his dam's side only doubles up on the stoutness factor.
WIND FIRE makes an ambitious tilt at the Sprint, a tall task unless her thoroughly dirt pedigree brings about substantial improvement. The Qatar Racing colorbearer has some useful formlines on turf. Third to No Nay Never in his juvenile course record-setting Norfolk at Royal Ascot in 2013, the David Brown filly has held her own in some hotly contested sprints this season. She scored a determined victory (in spite of being forced out and herded) in the June 14 Scurry at Sandown, with future Haydock Sprint Cup hero G Force back in third, and she hasn't been beaten far versus older horses in Goodwood's King George August 1 (not to be confused with Ascot's King George VI) and the September 14 Prix du Petit Couvert. Although she used to be more effective at five furlongs, a step up to six looks necessary at this point in her career, and she's certainly bred to excel on dirt. Wind Fire is by Distorted Humor and out of a full sister to Hopeful winner and promising young sire Majestic Warrior (sire of Princess of Sylmar). Her second dam is Test and Ballerina queen Dream Supreme, herself out of a Ballerina winner in Spinning Round. Needless to say, it would be preferable to test this hypothesis in a softer spot.
MUSTAJEEB rates as a fascinating prospect who can upstage the big names. Sheikh Hamdan's homebred broke his maiden convincingly at Galway, where trainer Dermot Weld loves to race his best juveniles, and concluded 2013 with a solid second to War Command (then at his best) in the Futurity at the Curragh. Mustajeeb did not reappear until the May 11 Amethyst at Leopardstown, where he launched a strong sustained rally at the left-handed track to win handily -- mowing down some salty old veterans in a superb three-year-old debut. The Nayef colt made a quick return 13 days later in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas at the Curragh and reported home a distant third on bottomless ground. The top two -- imperious Kingman and Shifting Power -- were both exiting an epically deep renewal of Newmarket's Guineas, giving the form a solid look even before Kingman went on to run the table the rest of the year. Mustajeeb shortened up to seven furlongs in the June 18 Jersey at Royal Ascot, and promptly lugged 130 pounds to a clear-cut victory while flirting with the course record. The second and third in the Jersey had both taken part in Karakontie's French Guineas, and Mustajeeb summarily dismissed them. Weld then gave him a holiday by design in order to point for bigger prizes at season's end. Mustajeeb resumed in the September 13 Clipper Boomerang Mile back at Leopardstown and closed stoutly, only to be held off by the race-fit Celebration Mile winner Bow Creek. Finishing third was globetrotting Gordon Lord Byron (who was subsequently second in that rowdy edition of the Foret). Mustajeeb was considered for the Queen Elizabeth II on Champions Day until the ground turned unsuitable, and Weld immediately pronounced him bound for the BC Mile. With his powerful closing kick and proficiency at Leopardstown, Mustajeeb could transfer his game seamlessly to Santa Anita.
VEDA would have been the top selection had she gone in the Filly & Mare Turf, with a profile vaguely reminiscent of Banks Hill, but she also fits here. The Aga Khan homebred is somewhat like Banks Hill, the 2001 F&M Turf romper, in that she has yet to race beyond a mile, but is bred to go farther and acts as if she might want to step up in trip. Sire Dansili, an unlucky third in the 2000 BC Mile, is a full brother to Banks Hill and 2005 F&M Turf heroine Intercontinental (among others). A cozy debut winner over a mile at Longchamp last fall, Veda disappointed from a wide post position on soft ground in the Prix Marcel Boussac. But the Alain de Royer-Dupre filly proved that all wrong back over the same course and distance in her sophomore bow. Exuding class on better ground, Veda just galloped under a motionless Christophe Soumillon, stamping herself as a league apart from the smart runner-up Fintry. She was again compromised by a poor post position in the May 11 French One Thousand Guineas, dropped back early, and stayed on well for second to Avenir Certain (who brought an unbeaten record into the Arc). The June 1 Prix de Sandringham went wrong from the beginning, as she had no pace help, and wound up sixth to Fintry. Veda went on summer break until the October 4 Prix Daniel Wildenstein and was just denied by Freddie Head's highly-regarded older male Solow (who is aiming for Hong Kong in December). Veda is sure to move forward off that. She will get a lot more pace to set up her kick in the Mile. This daughter of the multiple Group 3-winning Trempolino mare Vadapolina hails from a prolific family effective over a range of distances, including 2001 BC Mile hero Val Royal. Veda's worth a flyer.
TRADE STORM is here by virtue of his up-in-time decision in the September 14 Woodbine Mile, but it's not certain that the David Simcock veteran will be as happy around the confines of Santa Anita. His other top efforts have come over the expansive course at Meydan, where he closed with a flourish to win the 2013 Zabeel Mile and finished fourth in that year's Dubai Duty Free. Trade Storm again performed creditably at this Carnival, with a second to Mshawish as the defending Zabeel champion on February 27 and a fourth in the March 8 Jebel Hatta. Never involved in the March 29 Duty Free, the six-year-old returned to action in England this summer and turned in two near-misses. In his second time back in the August 23 Strensall at York, Trade Storm cruised to the fore, seemingly going much better than Custom Cut, only to have that scrappy rival come again to beat him. Trade Storm did well to maneuver through the field at Woodbine, showcasing his finest late-running flair. At the same time, it's worth remembering that he was third to Wise Dan and Za Approval in the 2013 Woodbine Mile. This year's edition was weaker and smacks of an opportunistic success. Trade Storm was also no match for Toronado in the 2013 Sussex, beaten eight lengths. Chances are that Trade Storm will leave himself too much to do and not enough stretch to do it.
Breeders' Cup News & Notes
Attendance up, handle down for BC Friday
A crowd of 37,205 was on hand at Santa Anita Park on Friday for the first day of the 31st Breeders' Cup World Championships. The attendance figure represented a 3.8 percent increase over the 2013 Friday attendance at Santa Anita of 35,833.
Total handle for Friday's 10-race card with four Breeders' Cup races was $45,815,112, down 11 percent from the 2013 figure of $51,521,146 for an 11-race card with five Breeders' Cup races.
"The Breeders' Cup World Championships were off to a great start today with dramatic performances including Goldencents' repeat in the Dirt Mile and Untapable's tour de force in the Longines Distaff," Breeders' Cup President and CEO Craig Fravel said. "We had a great crowd on hand at Santa Anita and are looking forward to another day of world-class racing tomorrow."
Breeders' Cup officials indicated that total handle was consistent with its projections given one less race on the card and the change in status of the race formerly known as the Breeders' Cup Marathon to an undercard event. A total of $3.7 million less was bet on that race this year than last when it was included in the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
Total handle -- $45,815,112
California Chrome, Tonalist connections hoping to cap banner year in BC Classic
"He looked great," trainer Art Sherman said Friday after the Kentucky Derby winner galloped 1 5/8 miles at 6 a.m. (PDT) under regular exercise rider Willie Delgado for the Classic.
"I plan to jog him in the morning the wrong way for a mile," Sherman explained. "I'm hoping everything goes smooth. He's as good as I can get him. Let the cards fall where they may."
"It's always better to be labeled as something than nothing," he mused. "I am fortunate in that I have owners who send some very nice horses to me. I train mostly for breeders, and I am very grateful to the people I train for. Whether the horses run on turf, dirt, in sprints or at a mile and a half, as long as they keep coming our way we are happy."
Cary Street pulls clear in Marathon
Cary Street trailed in last early during Friday's Grade 2, $200,750 Marathon, the first stakes on Breeders' Cup Friday, before easily engulfed the field and drew off to a 9 1/4-length victory upon hitting the stretch. Campaigned by Marc Detampel and trainer Brendan Walsh, the bay gelding completed the 1 3/4-mile epic distance in 2:58 1/5 over Santa Anita Park's fast dirt with jockey Miguel Mena in the irons.
Big Cazanova led the way though the early part of the race, but was pressed the entire time by Big Kick to establish splits of :23 2/5, :46 2/5, 1:10 2/5 and 1:35 4/5, quicker than normal for the distance. Cary Street was loping along in last while that battle took place up front, saving ground on the inside before angling out three wide leaving the final turn.
Irish Surf, the 2-1 favorite, had taken command by this point but was unable to hold off Cary Street in the lane. The bay pulled away from the tiring field to return $7.80 as the near 3-1 second choice against his seven rivals.
"I didn't really want to be that far back early on but they were rockin' and rollin' the first part of the race," Mena said. "This horse runs all day so I wasn't worried about it when they went out there so quick. He likes this distance; the farther he goes, the better he gets.
"I started looking for the leader at the five-eighths pole and he started to kick on for me. He finished great, he was rolling. He was the best horse in the race. I didn't panic, I knew he was going to come running at the end."
"I wasn't too concerned (with Cary Street being so far back the first half of the race). This horse can run all day," Walsh stated. "I had a fair idea that they might go quickly, so I just told him (Mena) to get him in the rail, save the ground, and he gave him such a great ride. He was so patient."
Irish Surf held second by a half-length over 23-1 longshot Patrioticandproud. Sky Kingdom came next and was followed by Big Cazanova, Ice Cream Truck and Volkonsky. Big Kick gave way and was eased in the stretch while Mystery Train was scratched.
Cary Street began his career in the claiming ranks, passing through two different barns before arriving in Walsh's shedrow as a $10,000 claim in February 2013. After competing against allowance/optional claiming company, he took a step forward in his stakes debut two back, capturing Parx Racing's Grade 3 Greenwood Cup on September 1 while going 1 1/2 miles.
Not only was the Greenwood Cup his first try against stakes rivals, but the Smarty Jones gelding was running farther than nine furlongs for the first time in his career as well. Walsh sent his five-year-old charge to Belmont Park next for the 1 5/8-mile Temperence Hill Invitational, and Cary Street managed third while 10 lengths behind the winner.
Friday's Marathon is Cary Street's biggest win to date, bumping his career line to 6-4-3 from 19 races and increasing his lifetime earnings to $370,275.
Bred in Kentucky by Darley, Cary Street sold for $60,000 as a Keeneland September yearling before bringing $32,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Midlantic two-year-old in training. He is the first registered stakes scorer out of the listed-winning Sultry Song mare Shady Reflection and counts as his second dam French Group 3 heroine Woodland Melody.
Cary Street's third dam -- Group 3-placed multiple stakes queen Eloquent Minister -- also produced English Group 3 victress Saintly Speech, who is herself the dam of dual Group 3 vixen Chrysanthemum. Also of note in this female family is Grade 2-winning successful sire Put It Back.
Long On Value surprises in Twilight Derby
Owned by Wachtel Stable and George Kerr, the Bill Mott trainee returned $25.
Sawyer's Hill, a 9-1 chance, outlasted another 9-1 shot, Divine Oath, by a neck for second. Following Divine Oath was Flamboyant, Talco, 8-5 favorite Ring Weekend, Patriots Rule, Enterprising, Sammy Mandeville, Yard Line, and Crushed It. Ashleyluvssugar was scratched.
This was the fourth career stakes win for Long On Value, who captured the restricted $50,000 Jamestown at Colonial Downs on the turf for trainer Don Roberson, and the $50,250 Strike Your Colors at Delaware Park on dirt for trainer Randy Allen last season.
Mott, who took over training duties after the Strike Your Colors, preceded this victory with a 1 3/4-length score in the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury over a mile. Earlier this year, the bay placed in the Arlington Classic, the Manila at Belmont Park, and Fred "Cappy" Capossela at Aqueduct. His record now stands at 13-5-2-1, $418,388.
"I was doubtful (about getting the mile and an eighth), but we gave him a chance thinking the turf was firm and maybe we'd have a little more pace than what we'd had," Mott said. "We liked the match up with Rosie (Napravnik), who's very patient, and I think she did a great job with him. A good ride made a big difference.
"I just asked her (Napravnik) to be as patient as possible, to wait as long as she could. They started to force her hand a little bit around the turn and she got him running and it worked out."
A son of Value Plus, Long On Value brought a mere $3,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Midlantic September yearling. He was reared by Long Message, an Orientate half-sister to multiple stakes winner Long Distance.
Long On Value was bred in Virginia by Snow Lantern Thoroughbreds.
Pontchatrain looking to rebound in Goldikova
Strathnaver, who earned her Grade 3 stripes taking the 1 1/2-mile Bewitch at Keeneland in 2013, has run two sharp races going short this season, losing the one-mile Just a Game at Belmont by a nose, and the 1 1/16-mile Ballston Spa at Saratoga by a neck.
I'm Already Sexy has prevailed in the Modesty Handicap at Arlington and the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf, with a solid sixth in the Beverly D. sandwiched in between those wins. The Wayne Catalano trainee has post two bullet works at Keeneland since the latter score on September 13.
Wall of Sound, who weakened to fourth after setting a slow pace in the 1 1/4-mile E.P. Taylor at Woodbine, returns on two weeks' rest to make her U.S. debut. The Singspiel filly was multiple stakes-placed in England earlier this year, including a half-length second behind Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf participant Secret Gesture in the Warwickshire Oaks.
Rhagori, Emotional Kitten, Legacy, and Queen of the Sand complete the Goldikova field.
Gentildonna returns in Tenno Sho Autumn
Sunday's Grade 1, $2.3 million Tenno Sho Autumn, one of the more prestigious events on the Japanese calendar, marks the return of Gentildonna, whose many accolades include Horse of the Year, Triple Tiara victress and dual Grade 1 Japan Cup winner.
The Deep Impact five-year-old, who finished second to Just a Way in this race last year, has had mixed fortunes this campaign. After running sixth in her February 16 seasonal debut in the Group 2 Kyoto Kinen, she shipped overseas to best Cirrus des Aigles in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on March 29. Her comeback ninth in the Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen on June 29 was the worst performance of her career.
"To be honest, I didn't think she'd ever lose that badly," said Taihei Inoue, assistant to trainer Sei Ishizaka. "Maybe it was the going. Some people say she can't run clockwise, but if that were the case, she wouldn't have won the (Grade 1) Oka Sho (Japanese One Thousand Guineas). It so happens to be that when she runs clockwise, the going has been bad."
It is worth noting that Gentildonna has won first-up just once in her career, and usually needs a prep race to reach peak fitness. So while one would be excused for considering this a prep for her tilt at a third Japan Cup, Inoue indicated she is in with a winning chance.
"I definitely don't want her to lose here," he stated.
Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese Two Thousand Guineas) winner Isla Bonita bypassed last weekend's Grade 1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) for a shot at his elders in this lofty spot and, like Gentildonna, the Fuji Kiseki sophomore enjoys a five-pound weight break. Unlike in other parts of the world, Japan's Guineas is contested over 2000 meters, so Isla Bonita is proven over the distance. After finishing second in the Grade 1 Japanese Derby, the dark bay -- who has never finished worse than second -- warmed up for this spot with a victory in the Grade 2 St. Lite Kinen on September 21.
Last year's five-length Kikuka Sho victor Epiphaneia, who was second in the Guineas and Japanese Derby, has not been seen since finishing fourth in Hong Kong's Group 1 QEII Cup on April 27, and makes his first start back off a summer holiday. Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga expressed confidence after working the Symboli Kris S four-year-old on October 16.
"I think he'll really start to get back in the swing of things after today," Fukunaga said that day. "He's come back to us looking really, really good. He's become a lot easier to ride now. In the spring, he just wasn't himself, even in the workouts. He didn't have that oomph to him. He's not heavy or anything so he should shape up fine in time for the race."
Fenomeno won the spring edition of the Grade 1 Tenno Sho the last two years, and he also comes off the shelf, having last been seen winning this year's renewal on May 4. The Stay Gold five-year-old has won off a layoff before, although never an event this tough, but he is remarkably consistent.
Pletcher doubles down in both Nashua and Tempted
Pletcher, who on Saturday will send out Angela Renee and Daredevil as morning-line favorites in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and Breeders' Cup Juvenile, respectively, will also have the program favorites in the Nashua and Tempted.
Blofeld, 8-5 morning-line favorite in the one-mile Nashua, is undefeated through two career starts and coming off a huge score in the Grade 2 Futurity on October 5 at Belmont Park. The Quality Road colt had a bit of trouble along the inside in the Futurity, but exploded late to win by three-quarters of a length and complete the six-furlong distance in 1:09 2/5.
Blofeld was equally impressive in his debut after having to concede a sizeable advantage to the lightning-quick Signature Cat. The gray commenced a relentless pursuit in the five-furlong dash and, ultimately, prevailed by a length over that rival as well as next-out winner and Nashua entrant El Kabeir.
Blofeld, who has earned BRIS Speed figures of 84 and 100 for his first two starts, will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez from post position 2.
Pletcher's other runner, Savoy Stomp, has only one career race under his belt, but it was an impressive one on September 27 at Belmont. The Medaglia d'Oro dark bay rode the rail into the stretch of the seven-furlong sprint and cruised to a two-length victory over a promising field of youngsters.
The $875,000 yearling purchase, who sits at 8-1 on the morning-line, will break from the rail under Javier Castellano.
After encountering Blofeld in his debut, El Kabeir broke his maiden by 10 lengths while earnings a BRIS Speed rating of 100 for trainer John Terranova. The performance was good enough to make him the 5-2 second choice in the Grade 1 Champagne on October 4 at Belmont, but the gray son of Scat Daddy failed to handle the sloppy track that day and finished fourth, beaten 17 lengths by Daredevil.
El Kabeir, 4-1 on the morning-line, drew post 6 with Irad Ortiz Jr. named to ride.
First Down, a debut winner for trainer Tom Albertrani; Hebbronville, runner-up in the Futurity following a pair of romping wins at Parx Racing; and The Truth Or Else, third in the Champagne, complete the Nashua field.
In the one-mile Tempted, restricted to fillies, Pletcher will be represented by Enchantress and Miss Always Ready.
Enchantress, the 7-5 morning-line favorite, has raced only once but made a positive impression when taking a six-furlong dash on October 4 at Keeneland by 6 3/4 lengths. The Malibu Moon filly, a $950,000 Barretts purchase, will break from post 6 with Velazquez aboard.
Miss Always Ready made her August 10 debut over Saratoga's turf, finishing ninth, but broke her maiden next out by 5 3/4 lengths in a one-mile, off-the-turf event on October 4 at Belmont. Castellano has the call on the More Than Ready filly, who sits at 10-1 on the morning-line, from post 7.
Grade 2 Matron winner Paulassilverlining will join the fray for trainer Michelle Nevin. The Ghostzapper filly has made three career starts and won two while never racing beyond six furlongs. Paulassilverlining enters the Tempted at 7-2 on the morning-line, and drew post 4 with Ortiz in the irons.
Rounding out the Tempted field are Save Rock and Roll, fourth in the Matron; stakes-placed Sunday Sonnet, fifth in the Grade 1 Chandelier last out; Stakes romper Harlan's Honor, most recently fourth in the Selima at Laurel Park; and Jacaranda, an impressive five-length debut winner for trainer Mike Hushion.
Molly Morgan seeks third stakes win of the year in Chilukki
"She came out of her last race fine," said Baldemar Bahena, assistant to trainer Dale Romans. "She's a nice mare and she's been training well here at Churchill since."
The Ghostzapper mare also owns a second in the La Troienne, which occurred a month prior to her four-length tally in the Fleur de Lis.
Honey Hues, who the Mint Julep Handicap and Ellis Park Turf on the grass over the summer, is looking to bounce back from two sub-par efforts recently.
"This mare has a hard time with heat," trainer Bernie Flint said. "In the summer time she just doesn't run as well; that's the bottom line. It's supposed to be very cold this weekend, so she should be in good shape."
Honey Hues has won six of 13 starts on dirt, including an allowance at the Churchill spring meet by a commanding seven lengths.
Invading from California is Grade 3 veteran My Happy Face, who is seeking an elusive first win since transferring to Peter Miller's barn in Southern California. She has run third in each of her last four starts, including the Las Madrinas at Los Alamitos and the L.A. Woman at Santa Anita.
My Happy Face was twice Grade 1-placed in 2013, finishing second in the Coaching Club American Oaks and a close third in the Test.
Spring in the Air, the Canadian champion juvenile filly of 2012, will make only her second ever start on dirt in the Chilukki. Winner of the Hendrie, a Grade 3 event at Woodbine, in May, she exits a third to Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint candidate Leigh Court in the Seaway at Woodbine.
Another Grade 3 winner on Polytrack, My Option, has placed just once in three outings since taking the June 28 Chicago Handicap at Arlington. She finished fourth in her only prior attempt at Churchill in last year's Falls City.
Others of note in the Chilukki are Street Girl, the Humana Distaff runner-up, and Enchanting Lisa, an allowance-winning half-sister to dual Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
Earlier in the Churchill card, a solid group of older sprinters will travel six furlongs in the $58,000 Bet On Sunshine. Star Harbour, No Distinction, Sharp Sensation, Apprehender, Ghost Is Clear, and Card are among the leading contenders in a wide-open race, which has also attracted 2012 New Orleans Handicap winner Nates Mineshaft, who returned from a layoff of more than nine months on September 13 to beat allowance foes at Remington Park by three lengths.
The one to catch might be Bay of Plenty, a Godolphin-owned colt who has won three in a row in wire-to-wire fashion, including two allowances over a mile at Belmont.
"We're running him back in three weeks, but he's doing so well. We're excited about it," said Artie Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "In his last three, he's been forward, but he's not really speedy. He's been breaking better, and just happens to be on the lead; he doesn't have to be there. He's pretty tractable."
Noble Moon, who took the Jerome on the inner dirt in January, exits fourth-place finishes in the King's Bishop and Pennsylvania Derby. Protonico, who took the Smarty Jones at Parx on Labor Day, also exits the Pennsylvania Derby, where he finished a distant seventh.
Also in the mix are stakes winners Just Call Kenny, third in the Indiana Derby last time, and Our Caravan, who notably upset Ring Weekend in the Calder Derby by 9 3/4 lengths back in April.
The Discovery field is rounded out by Away Game, an allowance scorer in the mud at Saratoga prior to sub-par effort in the Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park.
Moonlit Beauty could steal another edition of the Grade 3, C$150,000 Maple Leaf for fillies and mares at Woodbine. The now eight-year-old registered a 25-1 upset in the 1 1/4-mile test last year, and again appears to be the lone speed on paper.
Miss Mischief, who has won three straight since joining the Dale Capuano barn, is the probable favorite off a victory in the H.B.P.A at Presque Isle Downs. Last-out stakes winners Llanarmon and Strut the Course, 2013 Maple Lead third Sky High Lady, and the turf performers Julie's Love, Modernstone, and Industrial Policy are other potential contenders.
A field of six two-year-olds will go 1 1/16 miles in the C$125,000 Display. Bourbon Cowboy, runner-up in the Fitz Dixon Memorial Juvenile at Presque Isle, will likely garner most of the wagering support, although debut winner Sea to Sea and stakes-placed maidens Glenville Gardens and Hollywood Critic have a license to improve.
Richies Party Girl on familiar ground in Senator Ken Maddy
Other stakes veterans at the course and distance competing in the Maddy include Judy in Disguise, Llandudno, Gender Agenda, Biorhythm, Stars Above Me, and Velvet Mesquite.
European invaders are prominent in this year's edition of the $100,000 Juvenile Turf Sprint, which kicks off Saturday's 12-race program. Faithful Creek, Group 3-placed by Coolmore's highly-regarded John F Kennedy at Leropardstown last time, is also joined by Guilty, a winner at Newmarket and Chester, and two-time winner War Alert, who runs for successful Qatar Racing stable.
Wesley Ward has entered one gelding and two fillies hoping to replicate Richies Party Girl's success last year. The gelding is Crown the Kitten, who romped by nearly six lengths in the El Joven at Retama Park last time. The fillies are Cool Comfort, an impressive maiden winner at Kentucky Downs who faded to fourth in the 1 1/16-mile Jessamine at Keeneland next out, and Saratoga graduate Lamontagne.
Among the locally-based contenders are Stormy Liberal, a course-and-distance maiden winner; Metaboss, third to Stormy Liberal in her debut; and Ocho Ocho Ocho, who tries turf after winning on debut going 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt.
The $200,000 Golden State Juvenile, a race that included a colt by the name of California Chrome last year, is scheduled between the Juvenile Turf Sprint and Senator Ken Maddy. Wake Up Nick, a four-time stakes winner already this year, and Acceptance, a 13 1/4-length debut winner, figure to take most of the wagering support in the seven-furlong dash.
Under confident handling from jockey Rafael Bejarano, 6-5 favorite My Fiona (Ghostzapper) rallied along the Santa Anita Park rail around the far turn en route to a three-quarter length win in Friday's $200,000 Golden State Juvenile Fillies for California-bred or sired two-year-old fillies. Trained by Walther Solis, the dark bay miss stopped the clock for seven furlongs on the fast dirt in 1:23 to pay $4.60 for the win. "I knew she likes to come from behind, but with the way speed is playing today, I didn't want to be too far back," Bejarano explained. "I put her where I felt comfortable. I decided to follow (eventual third-place finisher) Stormy Adieu (Silic) because I knew she would still be there in the stretch. I stayed close to the rail and when we got to the stretch, I finally got through and she showed me a big kick." Bred by Terry Lovingier and owned by Lovingier, Tom Beckerle and Amanda Navarro, My Fiona entered this spot off a second in Del Mar's Generous Portion on August 27. She took her maiden debut at Santa Anita by 3 1/4 lengths on May 18 before running third in that track's Landaluce and posting a neck decision in Del Mar's California Thoroughbred Breeders' Association S. Lovingier, who owns Lovacres Ranch in Warner Springs, was elated with his filly's latest win. "Bejarano rode her great, and got a ground-saving race for her," he said. "She's a good filly. She's been a good filly since the day she was born." Solis added, "It means a lot to have this horse. I have to be thankful to Terry. We've been together for eight years now and we've been lucky. Almost every year, we've been lucky and blessed to come up with a nice horse and this year, My Fiona is doing the job." My Fiona nearly doubled her lifetime earnings to $244,100 while improving her career mark to 5-3-1-1 on Friday...
Two races later at Santa Anita, Tanma Corp.'s Chitu (Henny Hughes) broke sharply to take command of Friday's $101,750 Damascus and led all the way home for an easy 2 1/2-length win under jockey Joel Rosario. Trained by Bob Baffert, the three-year-old colt ran seven furlongs on the fast dirt in 1:21 3/5 after blazing through early fractions of :22 1/5, :44 4/5 and 1:08 4/5. "Bob told me that I would have to ride him a little bit, that he's not the kind of horse that would take a hold of me," Rosario said. "We broke sharp, we were on the lead and I just tried to improve our position from there. I thought there would be a few more horses with me on the lead, but I was going to send him either way. I'm glad he broke like that, it took us all the way." Chitu paid $9.20 as the 7-2 second choice for the win, his first since taking the Sunland Derby (G3) on March 23. The chestnut colt opened his career with a pair of wins at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita before finishing a half-length second in the Robert B. Lewis (G2). His Sunland Derby victory earned him a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, but the Kentucky-bred could only manage a ninth-placing on the first Saturday in May. "He has to be on the lead," said Baffert, who also saddled beaten 2-1 favorite Midnight Hawk in the Damascus. "He's quick. The (Kentucky) Derby was too far for him, so we freshened him up since then." Chitu got back to his winning ways in this spot, boosting his career record to read 6-4-1-0, $561,800...
Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC's Speedinthruthecity (City Zip) had dropped three straight races since taking the June 21 Roxelana at Churchill Downs, but the betting public still made her the 3-5 favorite in Friday's $61,145 Dream Supreme back under the Twin Spires. The dark bay miss lived up to that status with a 2 3/4-length win under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., coming six wide around the turn and easily grabbing the lead to finish six furlongs on the fast dirt in 1:10 3/5. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the four-year-old filly was worth $3.20 for the victory and now boasts a 18-7-2-3, $402,751, scorecard...
The $90,000 Sky Beauty, the co-feature Saturday at Gulfstream Park West over six furlongs, features a re-match between R Free Roll (Rockport Harbor) and Merry Meadow (Henny Hughes), the one-three finishers in the Honorable Miss H. (G2) at Saratoga in July. Both fillies have started once since. R Free Roll dueled for the lead in the October 4 Thoroughbred Club of America S. (G2) at Keeneland before fading to fifth, while Merry Meadow, who captured the Vagrancy H. (G3) earlier this year, was beaten three lengths into fourth at Belmont Park in the Gallant Bloom H. (G2) on September 20. Trainer Marty Wolfson saddles four in the Sky Beauty, including last-out Musical Romance S. winner Ol Donyo (Curlin)...
Munich stages the Grosser Preis von Bayern (Ger-G1) on Saturday, with Ivanhowe (Soldier Hollow) looking to supplement his success in the Grosser Preis von Baden (Ger-G1). Gestut Schlenderhan's four-year-old surprised many in that September 7 feature when upstaging Sea the Moon by three lengths before it became clear that the runner-up had sustained an injury, but he still emerged clear best in a solid renewal. Previously, the homebred had captured the Gerling-Preis (Ger-G2) over Saturday's 12-furlong trip at Cologne on May 4, where the re-opposing Night Wish (Sholokhov) was readily accounted for, and he also had that rival back in third in the Grosser Preis von Baden. One of Ivanhowe's chief rivals on Saturday is Preis der Diana (Ger-G1) heroine Feodora (Lord of England), who was beaten just over a length when fifth in Longchamp's Prix de l'Opera (Fr-G1) going 10 furlongs on October 5. When the Bayern was known as the Rheinland-Pokal and staged at Cologne, Earl of Tinsdal (Black Sam Bellamy) was successful in 2011 and the six-year-old showed with a latest second in the September 28 Preis von Europa (Ger-G1) at that venue that he retains all his ability...
No Nay Never (Scat Daddy) will be retired after Friday's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint and stand at Coolmore's headquarters in Ireland in 2015. A debut winner at Keeneland last year for Susan Magnier and Ice Wine Stable, No Nay Never added Royal Ascot's Norfolk (Eng-G2) to his resume and remained undefeated when returning to Europe to take the Prix Morny (Fr-G1) last August. Second in his March 1 seasonal debut in the Swale (G2) at Gulfstream Park, the Wesley Ward charge made it four-for-five when last seen in the Woodford (G3) at Keeneland on October 4. "Wesley Ward has trained some very fast horses over the years, but he is in no doubt that No Nay Never is the most talented," Coolmore's Director of Sales David O'Loughlin said. "He's a very strongly made individual who dwarfed his rivals in the parade ring at Royal Ascot. We can see him proving very popular with breeders here."...
The 2013 Breeders' Cup World Championships, hosted at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, generated $64.9 million in direct and indirect economic benefits for Los Angeles County, as concluded in a recent economic impact study by Tourism Economics. The study was commissioned by the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (L.A. Tourism) and the results revealed that the Breeders' Cup is one of the largest economic drivers for any sports and entertainment event in Los Angeles County. The economic benefits of the Breeders' Cup quantified in this study include: $39.5 million in increased direct spending, with $31.3 million in incremental visitor spending; $25.4 million in indirect and induced spending; $25.9 million in income generated for employees in Los Angeles County; and $4.8 million secured in state and local tax revenues, with local tax revenue amounting to $2.9 million. This positive economic impact is equivalent to the creation of an additional 532 full-time jobs in Los Angeles County. The Breeders' Cup attracts a highly affluent and international audience. Over 10 percent of visitors attending the 2013 Breeders' Cup chose to stay in a leading luxury hotel in nearby Pasadena, which represented the largest share of total visitors staying at a single hotel. In addition, the 2013 Breeders' Cup saw an 11.4 percent increase in worldwide wagering from 2012, with total wagers amounting to $160.7 million, of which $21 million was wagered at Santa Anita Park. Beyond being a strong attraction for Los Angeles residents and fans throughout the United States, 17 percent of the 95,000 attendees at the two-day event were drawn to Los Angeles from international markets and there was a 5.4 percent increase in overall attendance from 2012.
For Saturday or Next Raceday
OCTOBER 28, 2014
The Breeders' Cup through the eyes of a child
by Vance Hanson
The Breeders' Cup was inaugurated 30 years ago this month, but for those of us with slightly less gray on our temples, the first memories of racing's showcase day would come a little later.
Fast forward two years to 1986, and the grade-school version of me was just starting to get his toes wet following the sport and, ahem, betting. My father, an immediate race tracker when Canterbury Downs opened the previous year, would kindly oblige my whims with token $2 wagers on selections that sometimes involved nothing more than liking a horse's name. We all start somewhere.
Memories are fuzzy, but it seems that through the course of that season I subconsciously absorbed bits and pieces of information on some of the nation's top horses while browsing through my father's old programs and occasionally watching racing broadcasts with him. I don't know how else to explain the fact that, after trick-or-treating on Halloween night, I glanced at the next day's Breeders' Cup fields and swiftly recognized a horse in each race for my father to back on my behalf.
Santa Anita was a first-time host for that third Breeders' Cup, and back then the first race was the Juvenile. I don't recall why I liked Gulch other than he was the second choice in the morning line and had the familiar, potent combo of trainer LeRoy Jolley and jockey Angel Cordero Jr. in his corner. In hindsight, it wasn't a bad pick. Gulch had won his first five races, four of which were graded stakes, before finishing second to Juvenile favorite Capote in the Norfolk.
Gulch couldn't catch Capote in the Breeders' Cup, either, over a track biased toward early speed. Gulch wound up fifth in a field that also included Alysheba, Bet Twice, Polish Navy and Demons Begone. In other words, the winners of the 1987 Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont, Haskell Invitational, Super Derby, Met Mile, Wood Memorial, Woodward and Arkansas Derby were in that field. They don't make Breeders' Cup Juveniles like they used to.
Gulch, who would eventually earn Breeders' Cup glory in the 1988 Sprint, is virtually the lone remaining survivor of that fabulous crop. He's been a neighbor of mine for a while, living a mile or so down the road from me at Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky. Who would have believed, 28 years later, my first ever Breeders' Cup pick and I would be so close?
My Juvenile Fillies selection, Zero Minus, was more of a sentimental choice having broken her maiden and winning a small stakes at Canterbury that summer for future Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger. She also had Canterbury's leading jockey that year, Hall of Famer Sandy Hawley, on her back. Unbeknownst to me at the time, she had later achieved something more notable by winning the Alcibiades at Keeneland, but she fared no better than a distant seventh behind Brave Raj in the Juvenile Fillies.
Canterbury-related sentimentality would have been better served in the next race, the Sprint. Smile, the 1985 Sprint runner-up, was owned by Minneapolis resident Frances Genter and had won the $150,000 Canterbury Cup in July. But how could I go against odds-on speedball Groovy, who I remembered from his pace-setting tactics in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and could surely outrun anything at a much shorter six-furlong trip?
In the event Groovy was flat leaving the gate, and over that track that was a death sentence. D. Wayne Lukas' filly Pine Tree Lane broke on top, with the rail-hugging Smile in close pursuit. The latter ultimately put her away in deep stretch at odds of 11-1, while Groovy languished in fourth. As great a sprinter as he was, Groovy for some reason always had difficulty out-breaking fillies in the Breeders' Cup.
My pari-mutuel fortunes turned around in the next three races. Palace Music, who I knew had run well in the Mile the previous year, was my pick to make amends in the first turf race of the day. I didn't win much, but at least I cashed, when the future sire of Cigar ran a terrific second at odds of 7-2.
Shuffled back early from post 1, Palace Music was last of 14 with a half-mile to go. Forced to make a ridiculously wide rally under Gary Stevens, the chestnut closed like a freight train but fell a frustrating head short of longshot French sprinter Last Tycoon. If memory serves, Palace Music's trainer Charlie Whittingham put it succinctly to NBC after the race: "They don't make it a mile and a jump."
The Distaff was a no-brainer. Even I was quite familiar with the brilliance of Lady's Secret, and there was nothing to do but accept the short price and enjoy the procession from the eventual Horse of the Year, both of which I did.
The Turf was undoubtedly the highlight of my day. I knew nothing about European sensation and odds-on favorite Dancing Brave, but had watched the two leading American contenders on television earlier in the year. The mare Estrapade had won for fun in the Arlington Million, while the up-and-coming three-year-old Manila had caught my eye winning the United Nations Handicap and Ballantine's Scotch Classic against older horses.
Seeking value for perhaps the first time in my horse-playing life, I went with the longer-priced Manila, who had to overcome traffic in deep stretch to overtake Theatrical in the final strides with a whip-less Jose Santos hand-urging him to victory.
Turkoman, a long-striding son of Alydar, was the slight favorite over Precisionist in the Classic, and having watched Turkoman get the better of that rival in the 1 1/4-mile Marlboro Cup, was my pick to do so again. Unfortunately, Turkoman's style of running was not conducive to winning over the track as it was playing. Ridden by Pat Day for the first time, he could not overcome a 16-length deficit and finished second to Skywalker, who had enjoyed a perfect trip tracking a fast pace from third and taking what would be an insurmountable lead around the far turn.
As can be gleaned from these recollections, my first Breeders' Cup was quite a memorable one for me. But there's an asterisk. Dejected by Gulch's no-show, and naturally having the attention span of someone my age, I had turned off the TV after the Juvenile and went about my day. It was only after my father returned home from watching the Breeders' Cup simulcast at Canterbury that I found out the rest of the results -- and about my positive ROI.
Again, memories are hazy, but I like to think what happened on November 1, 1986 ignited what was already a simmering passion. At the very least, the events of that day convinced me that this was a hobby worth pursuing more seriously. Simply put, it was fun.
As was customary, my father had videotaped the entire four-hour NBC broadcast of that Breeders' Cup. I watched and re-watched that tape countless times that winter, acquainting myself with the sport's leading horses, owners, trainers and jockeys. I familiarized myself with the names of the top racetracks and graded stakes, and probably a little bit about pedigree and breeding. For a rookie, it was an incredibly useful tool, among many, in aiding my racing education.
For three decades, the Breeders' Cup has changed the lives of many of those fortunate enough to have participated in it. It also changed, long ago, the life of at least one young spectator.
BREEDERS' CUP FEATURE
OCTOBER 28, 2014
Breeders' Cup celebrates its 31st edition
by James Scully
The Breeders' Cup serves as the preeminent showcase for Thoroughbred racing in the fall. Inaugurated in 1984, the championship event brought cohesion to the industry that is still evident today.
Prior to Breeders' Cup, year-end events were spread out at different tracks across the country, often leaving little incentive for top horses from each region to meet. Ad-hoc championship events existed -- fans could hope to see leading older horses from California travel to Belmont Park for the Jockey Club Gold Cup -- but match-ups didn't always materialize on track.
That enabled divisional Eclipse Awards, as well as Horse of the Year, to be decided at the ballot box, but the landscape changed with the advent of the Breeders' Cup.
The championship event proved a natural draw for American-based interests -- everybody wants to win a Breeders' Cup race -- and international participation raised its presence to another level.
Connections of foreign stalwarts such as Miesque, Goldikova, Ouija Board, Giant's Causeway, Sakhee, Dancing Brave, Galileo, Daylami, St Nicholas Abbey, The Fugue and others suddenly had the motivation for a North American sojourn in late fall. And the international appeal remains with 38 horses from other continents pre-entered to this year's event at Santa Anita.
Founded by John Gaines, who died in 2005 at age 76, the Breeders' Cup achieved one of its goals as a showcase event when the first running was held at Hollywood Park in 1984.
"It did indeed bring together, at one racetrack on a single autumn day in Southern California, more good racehorses and first-rate jockeys that had ever competed at any one place on any day in history," esteemed turf writer Bill Nack said at the time.
A prominent owner and breeder, John Gaines was a man of great vision and marketing genius. He developed Gainesway Farm into one of the world's leading stud farms; founded the National Thoroughbred Association, which later became the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA); and was instrumental in the creation of the Kentucky Horse Park and Maxwell H. Gluck Center for Equine Research at the University of Kentucky.
It's remarkable that his idea for the Breeders' Cup ever came to fruition.
Thoroughbred racing lacks a governing body with no commissioner. There are so many competing interests and rivalries between racing jurisdictions. The industry struggles with uniformity issues like a national medication policy and security protocols.
Gaines envisioned the Breeders' Cup bringing a sense of unity to the industry by promoting the sport in a positive light and attracting new fans. It would be Thoroughbred racing's version of the Super Bowl.
His son, Thomas Gaines, a fourth-generation horseman who co-founded Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds, remembers how it all started.
"My dad came up with the idea for the Breeders' Cup but had to decide how to present it," Thomas Gaines explained. "He was confronted with two choices. Build a consensus before he announced it, and he soon realized that would be impossible, that would kill it before it could ever become a reality. So what he decided to do, he told nobody and invited reporters to attend a news conference."
In the spring of 1982, John Gaines revealed his Breeders' Cup plans at the annual Kentucky Derby Festival "They're Off" awards luncheon at Churchill Downs.
"He stepped up to a podium and announced the vision for the Breeders' Cup," Thomas Gaines said. "It was a strategic decision because he decided to get TV and the media behind his grand idea and then he would bring in everybody else in the industry, including those who may not want to do it for whatever reason.
"And that's what he did. Nobody had heard of it before, people were scrambling around after his announcement, and momentum started to build. Television got behind it, said they would broadcast this great day of racing in the fall, and then all the politics came together."
The first edition at Hollywood Park featured seven races with $10 million in total purses. And the centerpiece event, the $3 million Classic, delivered a rousing conclusion that quickly became a staple of the Breeders' Cup's legacy, with Wild Again narrowly out-finishing accomplished rivals Gate Dancer and Slew O' Gold after a prolonged stretch duel.
"If you dig through a highlight reel of the greatest races over the last 30 years, so many will be Breeders' Cup races," Thomas Gaines said. "It's become an incredible showcase of the very best horses."
The Breeders' Cup has grown to a two-day event, featuring 13 races worth a combined $24.5 million in 2014.
It didn't cure all of Thoroughbred racing's problems, but the Breeders' Cup continues to make an enormous impact that benefits the sport -- total handle in 2013 was a record $135,958,816.
Breeders' Cup handle numbers should be robust again this year as wagering opportunities abound for horseplayers, with full and highly-contentious fields of top-class horses. And the Breeders' Cup will determine numerous championship honors.
John Gaines was asked what he thought was the Breeders' Cup's greatest accomplishment several years after its inception.
"The fact that it exists," he said without missing a beat.
BREEDERS' CUP FEATURE
OCTOBER 27, 2014
BC Trainer Report
by James Scully
Since its inception in 1984, the Breeders' Cup has been the target for top stables around the world. And many of the biggest trainers in Thoroughbred racing will be represented by multiple starters in this year's races at Santa Anita.
The two-day, 13-race event drew a record 201 pre-entries and handicappers will spend plenty of hours breaking down all the horses. But this is an opportunity to focus upon the conditioners, providing statistics and a look at their horses in the Breeders' Cup.
Among trainers in this year's Breeders' Cup, with a minimum of three wins, David Hofmans leads the way with a 20 percent win rate (three-for-15). He will be represented by only Home Run Kitten, who enters the Turf Sprint off a victory in the Eddie D. Stakes down the hillside course at Santa Anita.
Michael Stoute ranks second by win percentage, 17.6 percent. We'll take a closer look at the English-based trainer below.
Here is a breakdown of some major trainers in this year's Breeders' Cup:
Todd Pletcher (103-7-11-13 Breeders' Cup record)
The leading conditioner in the United States, Pletcher has earned the Eclipse Award for champion trainer an unprecedented six times and is poised to easily capture a fifth straight earnings crown. As of October 20, the Pletcher stable has bankrolled $19,737,598 in 2014, more than $8 million ahead of Chad Brown in second, and is scoring at an overall 24 percent clip (208-for-854).
Pletcher's Breeders' Cup record (6.7 percent win) does not come close to matching his typical heady win rate at high-profile meets like Saratoga, Gulfstream, Belmont and Keeneland,. He ranks second in overall starts (103) but only seventh by wins, going 17-1-1-2 the last two years at Santa Anita.
His number of Breeders' Cup horses is down significantly; Pletcher pre-entered a record 18 in 2006, but he started eight horses in 2013 and is represented by only five entries this year.
Breeders' Cup horses:
Angela Renee (Juvenile Fillies) She is the Juvenile Fillies morning line favorite following her comfortable 1 1/2-length Chandelier victory at Santa Anita on September 27. Bernardini filly has won two-of-four starts, placing in a pair of graded stakes.
Carpe Diem (Juvenile) Two for two in his career, son of Giant's Causeway earned a 100 BRIS Speed rating when rallying from just off the pace in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, scoring by a widening 6 1/4-length margin while making a spectacular two-turn debut at the Juvenile's 1 1/16-mile distance.
Daredevil (Juvenile) -- Provides a formidable one-two punch, impressively winning both career starts on wet tracks. Speedster registered a Juvenile field-best 104 Speed rating taking the Champagne at Belmont Park.
Feathered (Juvenile Fillies) -- Posted a smart 9 3/4-length maiden win at Saratoga two starts back and exits a rallying third in the Frizette at Belmont. Out of a Dynaformer mare, she could appreciate the stretch out to two turns.
Isabella Sings (Juvenile Fillies Turf) A debut winner on Belmont's turf, she established herself as a top contender with a neck second in the Natalma at Woodbine. Daughter of Eskendereya is bred to relish two turns and will show speed.
Outlook: Pletcher is focused upon juvenile events this year and two-year-olds have accounted for four of his seven Breeders' Cup victories, including three wins in 2010 (Juvenile, Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf). His only victory at Santa Anita the past two years came via Shanghai Bobby in the 2012 Juvenile and Havana finished second in the same race last year. His youngsters could make a serious impact.
Bob Baffert (83-10-11-3)
Baffert ranks second by wins among Breeders' Cup trainers, trailing D. Wayne Lukas 19-10, and the Hall of Famer appears well-represented this year with a couple of likely favorites, American Pharoah and Secret Circle, as well as Horse of the Year contender Bayern.
His 12 percent win clip compares favorably and four of his Breeders' Cup victories have come at Santa Anita, including New Year's Day (Juvenile) and Secret Circle (Sprint) last year as Baffert rebounded from a disappointing zero-for-10 stint in 2012. Baffert pre-entered eight horses for the 2014 Breeders' Cup but Midnight Lucky has been scratched from the Filly & Mare Sprint.
American Pharoah (Juvenile) Broke his maiden in sensational fashion second time out in the Del Mar Futurity, registering a 103 BRIS Speed rating for the 4 3/4-length decision, and exits a 3 1/4-length romp in the local prep, the September 27 FrontRunner at Santa Anita. Son of Pioneerof the Nile looms a serious wire-to-wire threat.
Bayern (Classic) Speed is his game, posting smashing front-running wins in the Haskell Invitational (106 Speed rating), Pennsylvania Derby (109) and Woody Stephens (108) in his last four starts, and his last-place Travers finish came over a deep track at Saratoga. Speed-friendly track at Santa Anita could aid his chances of getting the 1 1/4-mile distance.
Fed Biz (Dirt Mile) Hasn't been a factor in this event the past two years (eighth in 2012 and sixth in 2013) but will enter in strong form this year, recording a convincing win in the San Diego before runner-up finishes in the Pat O'Brien and Awesome Again. Nearly defeated Shared Belief in the latter, falling a neck short in a valiant performance.
Indianapolis (Sprint) Lightly-raced colt was on Kentucky Derby trail after opening career with a pair of sharp wins over the winter, including a 4 1/4-length tally in six-furlong San Pedro, and came back from eight-month layoff with a nice triumph in a recent Santa Anita allowance. Must overcome a lack of seasoning but can be considered a wildcard due to his immense potential.
One Lucky Dane (Juvenile) High-priced son of Lookin at Lucky exits a 9 1/2-length maiden win going two turns at Santa Anita in his third start. Promising sort will be an outsider against a deep field of rivals.
Secret Circle (Sprint) Following the same pattern as last year when he came back from a lengthy layoff with an October prep race before the main event. Proved best as the 5-2 Sprint favorite in 2013, rallying from just off the pace to a neck decision, and prepped for his title defense with a good third in the October 4 Santa Anita Sprint Championship, his first race since early February. Very formidable.
Tiz Midnight (Distaff) She'll need a career-best to challenge, but four-year-old exits a respectable second to Beholder in her stakes debut, the September 27 Zenyatta, and could prove to be the speed of the speed. Filly will attempt to outperform expectations with further improvement.
Outlook: With major contenders in four events, Baffert probably expects to add to his Breeders' Cup trophy case. He's got a home-field advantage at Santa Anita.
Bill Mott (77-9-10-5)
With nine wins, Mott is tied with fellow Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for third all-time. Five were recorded in the Distaff and he'll send out this year's likely favorite, Close Hatches.
Mott scores at an 11.6 percent rate in the Breeders' Cup, three coming in California, the last via 2012 Distaff winner Royal Delta. Two of his eight pre-entries this year will need assistance from the also-eligibles list.
Bio Pro (Turf Sprint) An allowance winner most recently at Belmont Park, Bio Pro is stuck five spots down on the also-eligibles list and will be a huge longshot if he makes the starting gate.
Cigar Street (Classic) Registered one of the top BRIS Speed ratings in 2013, a 115 for his victory in the Skip Away early in the year, but wasn't seen again under silks for nearly 17 months. He shows two starts in preparation, including a game win in the September 27 Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs, but needs to move forward significantly from that effort to challenge.
Close Hatches (Distaff) Established her dominance in the division by opening the year with four straight stakes wins, including June's Ogden Phipps at Belmont over top rivals Beholder and Princess of Sylmar, but surprisingly came up flat in the October 5 Spinster at Keeneland, finishing a well-beaten fourth at 1-5 odds. That looks like an aberration and four-year-old filly appears capable of rebounding given her fine second in last year's Distaff at Santa Anita.
Emollient (Filly & Mare Turf) She likes Santa Anita's turf, finishing only a length back in fourth in last year's Filly & Mare Turf and winning the Rodeo Drive over the course on September 27, but will need to raise her game against a deep group of challengers, including several quality invaders from Europe.
Puca (Juvenile Fillies) Exits a 16-length maiden win over a short field at Belmont Park in her third career start and will face a stiff class check in her stakes bow.
Quality Rocks (Juvenile Fillies Turf) After opening her career with a pair of wins on synthetic tracks, she was transferred to Mott and turned in a solid second in her turf debut, the October 8 Jessamine at Keeneland. Daughter of Rock Hard Ten figures to be up close from the start and rates as a possible sleeper.
Seek Again (Mile) Proved to be a game winner of the Fourstardave at Saratoga two starts back but experienced a troubled trip last time, checking in sixth in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. With Wise Dan's absence, he's among the best U.S hopes but is in tough versus a talented group of European-based rivals.
Tourist (Mile) Likely can make the field from the also-eligibles list (needs two defections) and would add to the pace, but it's probably best to look for more down the road from the promising three-year-old colt.
Outlook: The Distaff is a forte and Mott has been in this position before previous winners Ajina (1997), Escena (1998), Unrivaled Belle (2010) and Royal Delta (first Distaff in 2011) all lost their final prep race. Close Hatches is the big gun and it's difficult to get excited about his remaining Breeders' Cup stock.
Chad Brown (23-2-3-3)
Brown led all trainers with 11 entries and easily captured the trainer's title during the Belmont fall meet. He has enhanced his reputation as a turf conditioner through the Breeders' Cup, with all eight of his top three finishes coming in grass races, and will bring a strong contingent of turf horses into this year's event.
Bakken (Sprint) Speedster possesses a nice set of BRIS Speed ratings but has raced sparingly, with two starts this year and no stakes wins to his credit. He didn't fire when shipping to Santa Anita last year and it's tough to make a strong case for his chances.
Big Blue Kitten (Turf) Rallied to finish a respectable second to Hillstar in the recent Canadian International but his only win since August 2013 has come in a restricted stakes. No factor in this race last year and he'll face an extreme class test once again.
Bobby's Kitten (Turf Sprint) Poised to make first career start at less than a mile and brings quality speed to the race. Exits a fine third in the September 14 Woodbine Mile, his best performance since the spring, and finished a close third as the favorite in last year's Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita.
Dayatthespa (Filly & Mare Turf) Cross-entered to both the Mile and Filly & Mare Turf, her best chance comes in the latter. The 1 1/4-mile distance represents a challenge, but five-year-old mare is arguably in career-best form, registering a 103 BRIS Speed rating for her commanding Grade 1 victory in the October 4 First Lady at Keeneland. Will be up close from the start.
Lady Eli (Juvenile Fillies Turf) Two for two in her career, daughter of Divine Park will contend for favoritism. She overcame a troubled trip to win her debut by a nose and captured the September 28 Miss Grillo at Belmont Park with ease, registering a 112 BRIS Late Pace rating while scoring by three lengths. Very formidable.
Offering Plan (Juvenile Turf) Rallied to an easy debut maiden win over New York-bred rivals before a respectable third in the September 28 Pilgrim at Belmont Park, earning commendable BRIS Speed and Late Pace numbers after a wide trip. His ability to finish makes him an interesting candidate for a top three finish at an expected price.
Partisan Politics (Juvenile Fillies Turf) Broke her maiden second time out in the P.G. Johnson at Saratoga but checked in a non-threatening fourth in the Miss Grillo last time. More Than Ready filly possesses a decent late kick but doesn't rate as one of Brown's main contenders in this event.
Sivoliere (Juvenile Fillies Turf) Regally-bred daughter of Sea the Stars will be piloted by Gary Stevens in her first U.S. start. She's run better on ground with less give to it, which could benefit her over expected firm conditions at Santa Anita, and displayed good class overseas. Sivoliere may not be the most imposing European shipper on paper but remains eligible to run well from off the pace.
Startup Nation (Juvenile Turf) New York-bred colt opened career with a pair of convincing wins, defeating state-bred maiden foes prior to a 4 1/2-length romp in the With Anticipation at Saratoga, but fell short as the 1-2 favorite in the September 28 Pilgrim at Belmont Park, finishing fourth. Will look to rebound and deserves serious consideration.
Stephanie's Kitten (Filly & Mare Turf) Big chance to give Brown his second win in this event in three years (Zagora captured 2012 edition). Stephanie's Kitten opened the year with a couple of unplaced efforts before posting consecutive runner-up finishes, but she was dropping too far back during early stages before rallying belatedly. Displayed noticeable improvement last time, the September 27 Flower Bowl at Belmont, racing up close from the start before crushing rivals, and the multiple Grade 1 heroine is hitting her best stride at the right time of year.
Tammy the Torpedo (Juvenile Fillies Turf) Easily broke her maiden first time out at Saratoga, looking like a filly with a bright future when rolling from off the pace to a 3 1/4-length decision, but came up short in third as the favorite in the Miss Grillo. Daughter of More Than Ready can't be completely dismissed from win consideration in a highly-contentious field.
Zivo (Classic) Loves Belmont, earning 103 and 104 Speed ratings in his last two outings at "Big Sandy," both at 1 1/4 miles, and turned in a huge effort rallying for second in the September 27 Jockey Club Gold Cup after being steadied repeatedly during the race. New York-bred has really come on at age five but carrying his form forward to Santa Anita, with his deep closing style, is a difficult proposition.
Outlook: Brown could be labeled a "turf maestro" following this year's Breeders' Cup he has a legitimate chance to win several grass races.
Steve Asmussen (32-4-4-2)
Asmussen brings a respectable 12.5 percent win clip into the Breeders' Cup and has fared well at Santa Anita. He didn't have the stock last year with only three starters, but upset the 2012 Dirt Mile with 15-1 Tapizar and recorded three seconds (all 9-2 or higher) at that year's edition in Arcadia, California.
Lucky Player (Juvenile) Exits a career-best effort in the September 6 Iroquois at Churchill Downs, posting a narrow upset at 11-1, but the runner-up (Bold Conquest) and third-placer (Hashtag Bourbon) did not run well in subsequent starts versus graded rivals and Lucky Player steps up to face a deep group in this year's Juvenile.
Mico Margarita (Sprint) Figures to be overlooked following stakes wins at Remington Park and Mountaineer, but four-year-old colt merits respect given his current form he's posted BRIS Speed ratings of 103 (last time) and 101 (twice) in his last three outings. Class concerns remain but don't be shocked to see him jump forward with a strong effort.
Tapiture (Dirt Mile) Cuts back in distance off a pair of commendable efforts, registering century-topping Speed ratings for a victory in West Virginia Derby and a runner-up effort in Pennsylvania Derby, and he's displayed a fine finishing kick in three outings since the Kentucky Derby. Don't know if he'll be able to run down the speed at Santa Anita, but three-year-old belongs in the mix of serious win contenders.
Unbridled's Note (Turf Sprint) Finished second in 2012 and fourth last year in this event but is unplaced in all three outings this year and ranked sixth on the also-eligibles list, one spot ahead of stablemate Regally Ready. Appears unlikely to factor if he does make the field.
Untapable (Distaff) Connections hope to see her make amends for a dreadful experience in last year's Juvenile Fillies in which she was eased after experiencing extreme trouble. Three-year-old filly is five-for-six this season, the only setback coming against males in the Haskell, and arrived early at Santa Anita, training locally the entire month of October with a recent five-furlong bullet work (:58). Classy filly is the likely second choice to Close Hatches.
Outlook: Asmussen has proven that he can get his horses ready for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita and his 2014 contingent appears to be in good form (excluding the also-eligibles). He may not come away with any wins, but his horses appear capable of challenging in at least a couple of spots.
Aidan O'Brien (88-8-12-7)
Irish-based O'Brien is a huge supporter of the Breeders' Cup, targeting multiple races each year, and he's done his best work in the Turf, earning a fourth win in the 1 1/2-mile event when Magician posted a 12-1 upset last year. He'll send the colt back for a title defense and also has the filly Chicquita pre-entered.
Chicquita (Turf) Her success on "good ground" overseas could bode well for her chances. After displaying top-class form at age three last season, she sold for a record price at an Irish auction ($8.073 million) in November. Her Coolmore connections brought her back in mid-September and despite dropping all three outings, she's performed respectably twice against good company, the only subpar showing coming from an extreme post position in the Arc. Don't underestimate O'Brien's ability to get the most out of his horses despite a demanding schedule as Chicquita makes her third start in a four-week window.
Magician (Turf) Magician was off since June and had never raced at 1 1/2 miles prior to last year's Turf, but he won't be an unknown quantity this year. The four-year-old colt captured a Group 3 stakes at the Curragh before recording runner-up finishes to The Fugue and Noble Mission in Group 1 events during the spring/summer, and he's been freshened up since a second in the Arlington Million, a tactic that worked so well last November at Santa Anita. He's one of several capable international raiders in this event.
Qualify (Juvenile Fillies Turf) Exits a Group 3 triumph at the Curragh and is bred to appreciate the stretch out to a two-turn mile. She wasn't a serious factor in two previous stakes attempts versus better company, but Qualify remains eligible to keep improving off a confidence-building win and shouldn't be easily dismissed from win consideration.
The Great War (Juvenile) He's raced exclusively on turf but is bred to flourish on a dirt surface with similar bloodlines to multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Departing (both are by War Front and are out of full sisters). The $1 million yearling purchase hasn't performed up to lofty expectations so far but does show three wins from seven starts, including a convincing listed stakes tally last out on September 28. Faces a difficult challenge in a deep Juvenile field.
War Envoy (Juvenile Turf) Looks like a serious player in this spot. A bit disappointing early in his career, the son of War Front brings improving form into the Breeders' Cup. He posted a third in an Irish Group 3 event and a second in an English Group 2 race before rallying to be a close fifth in a Group 1 test on the Arc undercard at Longchamp. Could continue to show more at Santa Anita.
Outlook: O'Brien is very adept shipping his horses to America and European-based horses tend to show up with their best over the Santa Anita turf course, producing four wins in 2013.
Sir Michael Stoute (34-6-2-3)
A 10-time champion English trainer, Stoute handles most of the Queen's best horses and is one of the most respected horsemen in the world. The four-time Turf winner has recorded four of his six Breeders' Cup victories at Santa Anita.
Dank (Filly & Mare Turf) Showed an affinity for the course winning last year's Filly & Mare Turf but has been dogged by a foot problem and won't bring the same form into this event, recording a pair of non-threatening efforts in her lone appearances this year. She had won three of her previous four starts before last year's Breeders' Cup and is probably facing a deeper field this year, but Dank is still a talented mare who is unbeaten from two Grade 1 attempts in America.
Telescope (Turf) After a solid sophomore season, Telescope has improved significantly at age four. He displayed high class in his last two outings, a third in the Juddmonte International and a second in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and his easy seven-length tally in the Group 2 Hardwicke three starts back was flattered by runner-up Hillstar's recent victory in the Canadian International at Woodbine. When Stoute announced in September that he was skipping the Arc and pointing the four-year-old son of Galileo to the Turf, it was easy to take notice. Telescope prefers good-to-firm ground and will take some beating.
Outlook: Stoute does a great job targeting big races and his horses will show up with their best at Santa Anita he's won a Breeders' Cup race over the course in four of the last five editions (2003, 2008, 2009 and 2013).
Trainers with multiple Breeders' Cup wins like Richard Mandella (seven), Neil Drysdale (six) and John Gosden (four) are conspicuous by their absence in this year's Breeders' Cup.
Andre Fabre (44-4-5-7) and Freddy Head (6-3-0-1) have both proven dangerous in past editions and will be represented by a lone starter, with Fabre sending out Arc runner-up Flintshire in the Turf and Head responsible for Anodin in the Mile.
Flintshire's improving form must be respected and he's in good company following his second-place finish to Treve last time -- eight also-rans from the Arc have shipped over to win the Turf. Anodin doesn't rate as a top contender, but he shows some respectable performances this season and is a full brother to three-time Mile winner Goldikova.
D. Wayne Lukas and Shug McGaughey are both represented by a pair of entries, but none rate as serious win prospects.
*all times Eastern
HANDICAPPER'S EDGE is compiled by Bloodstock Research Information Services. This newsletter may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Copyright 2011, Bloodstock Research Information Services. Information as to the races, race results and earnings was obtained from Equibase Company LLC and is utilized herein with the permission of the copyright owner, Equibase Company LLC.
A horse racing website is currently hiring for part-time positions as a Customer Service Representative in Lexington, Kentucky. Must be available nights and weekends. Some weekdays may also be available. Computer literacy required, horse racing knowledge and customer service experience a plus. To schedule an interview, email or send your rιsumι to the following: Nancy.Kanaval@brisnet.com, P.O. Box 4097, Lexington, KY 40544.