December 4, 2021

Four Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on tap

With the second half of the season heating up, so is the Breeders’ Cup Challenge schedule. “Win and You’re In” races for four different Breeders’ Cup events are on tap this weekend, from England’s historic Ascot to Southern California’s Del Mar. Here’s the summary in chronological order, and links to previews and betting strategies.

Saturday

Ascot’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S. (G1) (post time 10:40 a.m. EDT) offers a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The 1 1/2-mile prize will establish bragging rights between Sir Michael Stoute’s upwardly mobile pair of Poet’s Word and Crystal Ocean, and intrigue will be heightened if Cracksman goes on a retrieval mission. Upset by Poet’s Word in the Prince of Wales’s (G1) in his latest, Cracksman will get the green light only if trainer John Gosden believes the course has gotten enough rain. Gosden fields another contender in classy filly Coronet, while Aidan O’Brien is double-handed with Hydrangea and Rostropovich.

Del Mar’s Bing Crosby S. (G1) (post time 9:20 p.m. EDT) features reigning TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) champion Roy H. looking to take care of unfinished business. The lone loss of his 2017 Eclipse Award-campaign came at the hands of Ransom the Moon in this six-furlong dash, due to bad luck in running, and a victory here would set the record straight. Others to watch in this “Win and You’re In” for the Sprint are American Anthem from the Bob Baffert barn; comebacker American Pastime, last seen finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint; upset candidate Edwards Going Left; and New York stalwart Stallwalkin’ Dude.

Sunday

Monmouth Park’s Haskell Invitational (G1) (post time 5:45 p.m. EDT), restricted to three-year-olds but a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), marks the return to action of Good Magic. Last year’s champion two-year-old colt crossed swords with Justify in the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, finishing second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and fourth in the Preakness (G1), and the Chad Brown pupil rates as the 6-5 favorite here. His leading rivals in the 1 1/8-mile affair are Preakness runner-up Bravazo and the respective top two from the Ohio Derby (G3), Core Beliefs and Lone Sailor.

Del Mar completes the sequence with the 1 1/16-mile Clement L. Hirsch (G1) (post time 7:00 p.m. EDT), where champion Unique Bella is poised to book her ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Installed as the lopsided 2-5 choice on the morning line, the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee will meet only five foes, including the John Sadler duo of Yuvetsi and Shenandoah Queen as well as La Force.