Juveniles hop on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Challenge
A pair of impressive Saratoga graduates look like the horses to beat in Saturday’s $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, which serves as a 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby series prep and a “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race for next month’s Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita.
Tap It to Win, who rode a generally unfavorable rail to a second-start maiden victory on Travers Day, will look to give Mark Casse a second win in the Futurity, which was won by eventual Breeders’ Cup scorer and champion Classic Empire in 2016. After a career-opening second on the turf at Woodbine, Tap It to Win powered home by 3 1/2 lengths over next-out graduate Complexifier.
Gouverneur Morris was an odds-on choice in his Labor Day debut and promptly lived up to expectations with a nine-length romp in the slop going 5 1/2 furlongs. The gray son of Constitution races for Team Valor and WinStar Farm and is trained by two-time Futurity winner Todd Pletcher.
Ajaaweed, fifth in his first start at Saratoga, rebounded to graduate at Belmont Park by more than four lengths going a mile last month for Shadwell Farm and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Also exiting maiden wins are Maxfield, King Theo, and Enforceable, the latter over nine furlongs for Casse.
By Your Side won the Sanford (G3) by three lengths two back, but was a dull fifth in the Hopeful (G1) contested on Labor Day. Fourth in that prestigious event was American Butterfly, a son of American Pharoah who graduated second out for D. Wayne Lukas.
Thorougbred Club of America
She’s shockingly yet to win a graded stakes, but Chalon could finally break through in the $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2), a six-furlong Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep for the Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
A hard-luck second in both the TCA and Filly & Mare Sprint last fall, Chalon, has won at listed level twice this season while placing in her two graded outings in New York. Chalon in fact has run second in each of the past two editions of the TCA, as well as the 2017 Raven Run (G2) in three prior trips to Lexington.
Spiced Perfection won the Madison (G1) last April in a photo, but regressed when fourth in the Humana Distaff (G1) to Mia Mischief in her most recent outing. Mia Mischief tends to run best in Kentucky and could bounce back from sub-par outings at Saratoga, while the Louisiana-bred Ours to Run beat Mia Mischief at Oaklawn earlier this year and was most recently third in the Honorable Miss H. (G2). Dawn the Destroyer also merits a look off a second-place effort to division-leading Come Dancing in the Ballerina (G1).
Although not a part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, the $200,000 Woodford (G2) could still produce a starter or more for next month’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).
Leading candidates in the 5 1/2-furlong turf dash include Troy (G3) winner Leinster, third in the Turf Sprint (G3) at Kentucky Downs last time; Imprimis, fourth in the latter event in his first since June but hero by a neck in the course-and-distance Shakertown (G2) in April; and Extravagant Kid, the third-place finisher in the 2018 Woodford who’s won or placed in his last 10 outings.