A pair of graded dirt stakes are among the offerings on Saturday’s blockbuster 11-race program at Keeneland.
The $400,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) is a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and a qualifier in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, and debut maiden winners Calibrate and Essential Quality are the top draws. Nine 2-year-olds are entered for the 1 1/16-mile race.
The $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2), a 7-furlong test for fillies and mares, will award a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), and California’s leading female sprinter, Sneaking Out, will get a race over the track before the championship event at Keeneland on Nov. 6-7.
Calibrate exits an impressive 4 1/2-length romp as the favorite in a 6 1/2-furlong event at Saratoga on Aug. 15. Steve Asmussen trains the Distorted Humor colt, and Ricardo Santana Jr. will be up on the speedy youngster in the Breeders’ Futurity.
Essential Quality, a Godolphin homebred son of Tapit, posted a spectacular triumph at first asking on the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs, overcoming traffic trouble in midstretch to win going away by four lengths. Luis Saez picks up the mount on the gray colt for Brad Cox.
Founder owns the top Brisnet Speed rating, netting a 91 when rallying last-to-first in his first outing at Saratoga. A $600,000 purchase at March’s OBS 2-year-old sale, the Kentucky-bred colt is by freshman sire Upstart, and Founder caught a muddy track when scoring by a neck on Aug. 29. Joel Rosario takes over the reins on the Chad Brown trainee.
Asmussen will also send out Lone Star Park stakes winner Super Stock, who exits a third in the Sept. 5 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs. Tyler Gaffalione will replace Santana aboard the Dialed In colt. King Fury can’t be dismissed from consideration following a sharp two-turn debut win at Churchill Downs on Sept. 3, drawing away to score by 2 3/4 lengths. Brian Hernandez Jr. rides the Kenny McPeeek-trained son of Curlin.
Sneaking Out will bring a two-race win streak to the seven-horse Thoroughbred Club America, taking the Great Lady M. (G2) at Los Alamitos before posing a 3 3/4-length decision in the Aug. 21 Rancho Bernando (G3) at Del Mar. Jerry Hollendorfer conditions the 4-year-old filly, a California-bred daughter of Indian Evening, and Umberto Rispoli will be in to ride Sneaking Out.
Grade 3 vixen Lady’s Island merits respect following her close second in the Sept. 6 Honorable Miss (G2) at Saratoga. The Florida-bred mare is a five-time stakes winner, and Gaffalione has the assignment for Danny Gargan. Other contenders include a pair of stakes debuters, Palace Avenger and Dos Vinos, who exit respective allowance wins at Saratoga and Keeneland.