March 27, 2023

Breeders’ Cup implications: New York prep races

Complexity wires the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park under jockey Jose Ortiz on October 6, 2018 (c) NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography

The 35th Breeders’ Cup will be held at Churchill Downs on November 2-3 and pre-entries will be released next week.

Five of the 13 Breeders’ Cup races last year were won by horses making their final start in New York (14 races this year with inaugural Juvenile Turf Sprint) and here are some quick thoughts on the final round of New York prep races (listed chronologically):

New York Breeders’ Cup Implications

Belmont Park

Frizette (G1), October 7: A speed-laden field is being assembled for the Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Frizette winner Jaywalk will be part of the early mix following a sharp wire-to-wire tally. The Jason Servis-trained daughter of Cross Traffic registered a solid 98 BRIS Speed rating for the 5 3/4-length decision, stretching out to a one-turn mile after making her first three starts at 5 1/2 furlongs or less, and she’ll try to carry her speed two turns next time.

Futurity, October 7: Winner looks very promising for the Juvenile Turf Sprint. Uncle Benny was expected to be a pace presence following a wire-to-wire debut win on Monmouth Park’s main track but showed his versatility rallying last-to-first after a poor start, passing 10 rivals en route to a half-length victory. From the first crop of Declaration of War, the Jason Servis-trained colt hails from an unraced Storm Cat mare and counts the multiple Grade 1-winning Dynaformer mare Starrer as his second maternal dam.

Flower Bowl (G1), October 7: Plan to lean on Euros in Filly & Mare Turf (G1) but Chad Brown has won three of the last six runnings. Fourstar Crook didn’t beat much in the Flower Bowl, striding away to a two-length triumph, and faces an extreme class check next time, but the New York-bred mare will bring BRIS Late Pace ratings as high as 111 into the Breeders’ Cup.

Champagne (G1), October 6: A marquee East Coast-West Coast showdown looms in the Juvenile (G1). Game Winner did his part recording a convincing win in the American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita a week earlier and Complexity stamped his readiness with an outstanding wire-to-wire victory. A convincing winner in both starts for Chad Brown, Complexity’s pedigree may be questionable for Triple Crown distances next spring but he remains a strong candidate to carry his speed 1 1/16 miles in the Juvenile, netting a 99 BRIS Speed rating for the three-length score. Code of Honor, a wire-to-wire debut winner, missed the break when stumbling out of the starting gate and wound up last of 10 after the opening quarter-mile. He offered a nice move into contention on the far turn and wound up a commendable second, three lengths clear of third. The Shug McGaughey-trained colt may continue to show more with a clean start.

Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational, October 6: Nice tune-up for a top contender. Disco Partner rebounded from a pair of setbacks, rolling from just off the pace to a 4 1/2-length decision, and parlayed a convincing win in last year’s Belmont Turf Sprint into a fast-closing third, beaten only a half-length from a tough rail post, in the Turf Sprint at Del Mar.

Beldame (G1), October 6: Not a strong field but Wow Cat may be an option for bettors trying to beat Monomoy Girl and Abel Tasman in the Distaff (G1). Undefeated in eight South American starts, the Chilean champion appeared a cut below top American distaffers when finishing second to Farrell in the Shuvee (G3) and a well-beaten third in the Personal Ensign (G1), but she turned things around in the Beldame with a convincing performance, netting a 102 BRIS Speed rating for the 3 1/4-length win.

Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), September 29: Could prove to be an important Classic (G1) prep. Discreet Lover received an ideal set-up and has run well at Belmont this year, finishing third in Suburban (G2) and fourth in the Met Mile (G1). He’ll be hard-pressed to repeat this effort at Churchill Downs. Thunder Snow is one to take away from the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Freshened off Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) win in late March, the four-year-old performed poorly when making his comebacker in a Group 1 turf race in late August. Thunder Snow thrived returning to 10 furlongs on dirt, offering a bold rally to overhaul Mendelssohn and Diversify by midstretch, essentially winning the battle but losing the war when he was nailed in the final jumps. The last two Classic winners at Churchill Downs prepped with a runner-up in the Gold Cup (Blame and Drosselmeyer) and it could to be a perfect prep for Thunder Snow. Mendelssohn recorded a gutsy third after chasing a hot pace and will bring speed to the Classic. But not sure if 1 1/4 miles is an optimal distance for the sophomore colt.

Vosburgh (G1), September 29: Easy final prep but possible Sprint (G1) favorite finished slower than expected. Imperial Hint faced an extremely weak group of challengers and after drawing off by about five lengths in upper stretch, the 1-5 favorite needed 12 1/2 seconds to complete the final eighth of a mile. He won under wraps but Imperial Hint finishes faster in morning workouts without urging. The five-year-old earned a 106 BRIS Speed rating posting a spectacular win in the A.G. Vanderbilt (G1) two back but will enter the Sprint off a 98 figure in the Vosburgh.

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1), September 29: Europeans will be tough to beat in the Turf (G1) but the top three from the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic rate consideration for a minor award. Channel Maker will enter on the upswing for Bill Mott, dead-heating for the win in the Bowling Green (G2) and finishing second in the Sword Dancer (G1) before rolling to a 4 1/2-length victory on the front end here. Robert Bruce could not reel in the winner but the Arlington Million (G1) hero finished 5 1/2 lengths clear of third as the even-money favorite. Grade 1 victor Sadler’s Joy came next and has not been a serious factor behind front-running winners in his last two, but he still packs a stout late kick.

Pilgrim (G3), September 29: Like other preps better for the Juvenile Turf (G1). Forty Under rallied wide to prove best, improving to two-for-two on turf for Chris Englehart. Manny Franco rides the Uncle Mo colt. Somelikeithotbrown likes to race up close and has finished a clear second in the Pilgrim and With Anticipation (G3). Opry offered a wide move off the far turn but came up empty late, checking in fourth as the 8-5 favorite.

Miss Grillo (G2), September 30: Chad Brown excels in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), winning four-of-10 editions since its inception in 2008, and he’ll send out the leading American-based contender in Newspaperofrecord. An Irish-bred daughter of Lope de Vega, Newspaperofrecord opened her racing career with a 6 3/4-length victory in a 1 1/16-mile maiden at Saratoga and continued to dominate in the Miss Grillo, leading wire-to-wire in a 6 1/2-length score. She’s been awesome winning both starts on yielding turf.

Gallant Bloom (G2), September 23: Appears unlikely to impact Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). Union Strike got up to narrowly edge a pair of rivals but earned only a 95 BRIS Speed rating. Lewis Bay, the 9-5 favorite, pressed the pace after a slow start but weakened to last.

Allied Forces, September 8: Included this event because of World of Trouble, who could run a big on the front end of the Turf Sprint (G1). Sophomore colt has found his calling on turf for Jason Servis, recording a sharp win in the August 8 Quick Call at Saratoga and a 5 3/4-length romp in the Allied Forces, and earned a 107 BRIS Speed rating for the latter. World of Trouble will make his first start versus elders at Churchill Downs.