December 4, 2022

Champions Malathaat, Letruska clash in Spinster as Keeneland hosts three Sunday Breeders’ Cup qualifiers

Malathaat reels in Search Results in the Personal Ensign (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

A couple of champions are among the entries for a trio of Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series qualifiers taking place on an exciting Sunday at Keeneland.

The feature event of the afternoon is the $600,000 Spinster S. (G1), a 1 1/8-mile “Win and You’re In” qualifier to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Letruska won this race last year as part of a decorated campaign culminating with the Eclipse Award for champion older dirt female, but Letruska was last seen finishing third in Saratoga’s Personal Ensign S. (G1) behind Malathaat, the champion three-year-old filly of 2021.

Malathaat has finished ahead of Letruska in all three of their meetings and may hold an advantage while returning to Keeneland, where her 2-for-2 record includes a triumph in the 2021 Ashland S. (G1). Malathaat seeks to become the first Ashland winner since Emollient in 2013 to come back and add the Spinster to her resume.

Other fillies and mares entered in the compact Spinster field include 2021 Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2) winner Army Wife, recent Locust Grove S. (G3) heroine Played Hard, and 2020 Washington Oaks winner Princess of Cairo.

One race prior to the Spinster, the $350,000 Bourbon S. (G2) serves as a steppingstone toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The 1 1/16-mile grass test has drawn an overflow field eyeing the “Win and You’re In” prize.

Among the 12 runners in the main body of the Bourbon field, Saratoga’s With Anticipation S. (G3) winner Bobby O ranks as the most accomplished. But the Mark Casse trainee is far from the only stakes-experienced name in the entries. Gigante and Rarified Flair ran 1-2 in the Kitten’s Joy S. at Colonial Downs, Andthewinneris and Our Dream Rye’d finished third and sixth in the With Anticipation, Accident ran third in the Juvenile Sprint S. at Kentucky Downs, and Reckoning Force, Deer District, and Really Good swept the trifecta in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile S.

Maiden winners B Minor and Hendrickson join Kentucky Downs allowance winner Panama to complete the list of primary Bourbon entrants. Last-out maiden winners Mendel’s Secret, General Jim, and Oscar Award rank with Iroquois S. (G3) starter Zaici on the also-eligible list.

Rounding out the Breeders’ Cup qualifying action is the Indian Summer S., a 5 1/2-furlong qualifier to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1). Trainer Wesley Ward has won two of the first four editions of the Indiana Summer, and he comes well-armed to the 2022 edition with Love Reigns and No Nay Hudson.

Love Reigns is the more accomplished of the duo. She dominated her debut dashing 5 1/2 furlongs over the Keeneland lawn, finished fourth against tough international competition in the Queen Mary S. (G2) at Royal Ascot, and returned to the U.S. with a victory in Saratoga’s Bolton Landing S. But No Nay Hudson exits an encouraging runner-up finish in the Skidmore S. at Saratoga and can’t be dismissed under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

Private Creed ran third in the Skidmore before coming back to win the Juvenile Sprint S. at Kentucky Downs, emerging as a key win threat in the Indian Summer. Bourbon Therapy and Revere Note finished fourth and fifth in the Juvenile Sprint and will need improvement to turn the tables at Keeneland.

Mounsieur Coco has never run on turf, but he dominated the Proud Man S. over the synthetic Tapeta track at Keeneland, suggesting he has the talent to compete at this level.

The filly Numero Seis exits a third-place finish in the Untapable S. at Kentucky Downs, while maiden winners Ghent, Kbcya Later, Mo Stash, and Castelmola complete the Indian Summer cast.