The final preps are in the books for the 14-race Breeders’ Cup program on November 2-3 at Churchill Downs. Here are some quick thoughts on the Kentucky prep races:
Breeders’ Cup Kentucky Implications
Alcibiades (G1), October 5: Possible Juvenile Fillies (G1) favorite emerged in Restless Rider, who rallied from just off the pace to win with authority. A smashing 11 1/4-length winner of the June 30 Debutante at Churchill Downs, the Kenny McPeek-trained daughter of Distorted Humor stretched out to two turns with aplomb and may have the right run style in a projected speed-laden Juvenile Fillies. Reflect rallied well to be a clear second while no threat to the winner and I liked the improvement she displayed on the stretch out for Keith Desormeaux.
Phoenix (G2), October 5: Strong prep. Promises Fulfilled is under consideration for the Sprint (G1) and Dirt Mile (G1) following a game wire-to-wire win, his third consecutive sprint stakes tally. He also led all the way in H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) and sophomore colt showed ability to settle when romping in six-furlong Amsterdam (G3). Runner-up Whitmore wound up chasing the pace to keep Promises Fulfilled within striking range and finished well to miss by a head, registering his third straight triple-digit BRIS Speed rating (103). Expecting a better trip in speed-laden Sprint. Limousine Liberal experienced a troubled trip, checking and altering course repeatedly, before missing by less than a length in third. Churchill Downs specialist could be cross-entered to Sprint and Dirt Mile.
Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), October 6: Will be surprised to see any impact upon the Mile (G1). Next Shares parlayed a victory in the September 6 Old Friends S. at Kentucky Downs into a 23-1 upset, rallying to score going away by 3 1/4 lengths over 81-1 Great Wide Open, who was exiting a second at 18-1 in the September 1 Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs. Qurbaan, winner of the September 3 Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2) at Saratoga in his U.S. debut, rallied belatedly for third.
Breeders’ Futurity (G1), October 6: Not excited about top two for the Juvenile (G1). Knicks Go made an easy lead on comfortable fractions and drew off in eye-catching fashion nearing the completion of the far turn, winning by 5 1/2 lengths at 70-1 odds. Earned only a 92 BRIS Speed rating and doesn’t appear quick enough to make the lead in Juvenile. Runner-up Signalman received the right trip from his innermost post and held his position while losing plenty of ground to the winner through the short stretch. Standard Deviation traveled ridiculously wide on both turns from the far outside post in the 13-strong field before finishing with interest to be a clear third in his second start. A minor award may be more realistic but his finishing kick rates as interesting in an expected speed-laden field.
Thoroughbred Club of America (G2), October 6: Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) will be among the most competitive races and the top four from the TCA are at least among the mix for any vertical exotics. Golden Mischief narrowly prevailed and has now won three straight stakes for Brad Cox. Chalon continues to make fine progress for Arnaud Delacour, just missing in second in the six-furlong event. Vertical Oak showed surprising speed and posted a nice stakes win under the Twin Spires two back. Miss Sunset didn’t appear comfortable in the early stages from her inside post but was beaten only 1 1/4 lengths in fourth; she’s won a Grade 2 and posted a nose second in a Grade 1 at the seven-furlong Filly & Mare Sprint distance and will make her third start off the layoff at Churchill.
Woodford (G2), October 6: Have to take notice for the Turf Sprint (G1). Bucchero appears to be rounding into top form for trainer Tim Glyshaw and missed by only a length when fourth in last year’s Turf Sprint at Del Mar after winning the Woodford. Will Call rebounded from an unplaced effort as the favorite with a rallying second and is two-for-two sprinting on Churchill’s turf for Brad Cox. Extravagant Kid followed a Saratoga stakes win with a close third.
First Lady (G1), October 6: A Raving Beauty will bypass the Breeders’ Cup after leading wire-to-wire. Dona Bruja, who wound up nearly three lengths clear of third at 13-1, will be up against it in the Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
Spinster (G1), October 7: Blue Prize will face a tall task when she steps up against Abel Tasman and Monomoy Girl in the Distaff (G1), but the five-year-old mare will enter on the upswing after netting her third straight graded stakes win and initial Grade 1 tally. We know she loves Churchill Downs and Blue Prize easily overcame post 11 in the 1 1/8-mile Spinster, giving away ground while racing in close attendance during the opening stages. She boldly kicked for home leaving the far turn, opening a commanding advantage on the competition, and recorded her third straight triple-digit BRIS Late Pace number despite appearing to lose focus as she ducked out while unopposed in the stretch. Blue Prize relishes a dogfight, prevailing by a nose in the September 15 Locust Grove (G3) two starts back, and she’s going good presently for trainer Ignacio Correas IV.
Bourbon (G3), October 7: Solid American prep for Juvenile Turf (G1). Current rallied to get up in time for Todd Pletcher and Jose Ortiz, scoring by a nose over Kentucky Downs Juvenile winner Henley’s Joy. Last-out maiden victor Salvator Mundi ran well in his stakes debut for third and 7-5 favorite War of Will came next, missing by a length after setting the pace.
Indian Summer, October 7: The inaugural Juvenile Turf Sprint will be run at 5 1/2 furlongs and Strike Silver established himself a major player after rallying dramatically last-to-first, passing 10 horses in the stretch. Mark Casse trains the Violence colt and Julien Leparoux rides. Chelsea Cloisters held well to be a neck second and the Wesley Ward-trained filly will bring plenty of speed to the Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Jessamine (G3), October 10: An expected deep Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) field awaits but Concrete Rose’s late kick has me interested. After closing with a rush to win her debut sprinting on Saratoga’s turf, the Rusty Arnold-trained daughter of Twirling Candy delivered a dazzling turn of foot to blow her rivals away in a three-length decision.
Lukas Classic (G3), September 29: Classic (G1) outsider looked good posting a convincing win over the track. Mind Your Biscuits had only won the six-furlong Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) overseas this year, but the five-year-old ran well finishing second in the Whitney (G1) and Met Mile (G1) and had little difficulty handling 1 1/8 miles around two turns, displaying solid tactical speed from the start. He still faces a daunting stretch out to 10 furlongs, but Mind Your Biscuits appears to be thriving presently for Chad Summers.
Ack Ack (G3), September 29: Chances are this race makes a negligible impact upon the Dirt Mile (G1). But I liked the effort of Giant Expectations, who missed the break returning from a six-month layoff and offered a fine move from last on the far turn. He was in with a serious chance in upper stretch and, while he weakened late to third, the five-year-old was beaten only 1 1/4 lengths in a sneaky performance.
Iroquois (G3), September 15: Cairo Cat posted a 17-1 upset but will miss the Juvenile (G1) due to a “minor” setback. Runner-up Tight Ten coughed up a clear lead in midstretch and won’t be an attractive win candidate, but Tapit colt is eligible to impact the pace with his speed.
Pocahontas (G2), September 15: Major contender for Juvenile Fillies (G1) on display in Serengeti Empress, who cornered spectacularly and blew out her foes by a 19 1/2-length margin. The competition will get much stiffer but it’s easy to be impressed by her domination, winning her last two stakes starts by a combined 33 lengths. Corey Lanerie rides the front runner for Tom Amoss.