As we await Keeneland’s Friday opener to be drawn Tuesday, track publicity has offered an appetizer in the form of prospective fields for the Fall Stars Weekend stakes.
According to Keeneland Stakes Coordinator Allison DeLuca, here are the likely entrants in the upcoming stakes, all with Breeders’ Cup implications:
The $400,000 Alcibiades (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and points race for the Kentucky Oaks (G1), promises a rematch among Spinaway (G1) alumnae – runner-up Restless Rider, who had impressed in the Debutante at Churchill Downs; Bella Ciao (fourth); Reflect (sixth); and Catherinethegreat (ninth), previously the Schuylerville (G3) winner. Others with stakes experience include unbeaten Arlington-Washington Lassie winner Into Trouble, Pocahontas (G2) third Lightscameraaction, P.G. Johnson third Chocolate Kisses, Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf third Bizwhacks, and Sorority dead-heat second Malocchio. Allowance winners Lady TNT (at Churchill Downs) and Somewhere (Indiana Grand) are expected along with recent maiden-breakers Champagne Anyone (Ellis Park) and Oxy Lady (Belterra).
The $250,000 Phoenix (G2), a “Win and You’re In” for the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), pits defending champion Whitmore against familiar foe Limousine Liberal, most recently first and third in the Forego (G1). Sophomore Promises Fulfilled faces elders for the first time after sweeping the H. Allen Jerkens (G1) and Amsterdam (G3) at Saratoga, while Heartwood exits a sixth in the Forego, Distinctive B ships in off a sharp Del Mar score, and Dalmore shortens up.
The $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), is coming up a dandy with last year’s near-misser Heart to Heart, successful in the course-and-distance Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) in April, set to take on fellow front-runner Voodoo Song, the Fourstardave (G1) winner; multiple Grade 1 veteran Divisidero; Arlington Million (G1) runner-up Almanaar; Synchrony, a four-time graded winner between Fair Grounds and Monmouth this season; the top two in the Bernard Baruch (G2) photo, Qurbaan and Forge; the trifecta from Kentucky Downs’ Tourist Mile – Bound for Nowhere, Great Wide Open, and Mr. Misunderstood – as well as Next Shares, winner of the Old Friends at the same course last out; California shipper Big Score and Holiday Stone, who ran one-two in the 2017 Transylvania (G3) here; Christian C; and Zulu Alpha. The tantalizing “possible” is classy sophomore Analyze It, the current Transylvania star who hasn’t quite gotten home in his last three over longer.
The $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and points race for the Kentucky Derby (G1), is projected to lure Hopeful (G1) hero Mind Control, fourth Sombeyay (the Sanford [G3] winner) and fifth-placer Dream Maker. Plenty of promising maiden winners could step up here, from Saratoga graduates Classy John, Standard Deviation, and Signalman to Belmont maiden winners Aurelius Maximus and Looking at Bikinis, Churchill Downs scorers Borracho and Moonster as well as Mr. Ankeny from Ellis. Sapling victor Unionizer, Ellis Park Juvenile scorer Tobacco Road, who was subsequently fourth in the Iroquois (G3), and Arlington-Washington Futurity third Knicks Go are likewise on the list.
The $400,000 First Lady (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), will likely feature Just a Game (G1) vixen A Raving Beauty, Ballston Spa (G2) queen Quidura, and Matriarch (G1) scorer Off Limits versus Godolphin’s French shipper Crown Walk, most recently runner-up in the Prix Rothschild (G1); Group 2 veteran La Sardane, whose signature U.S. win came in the Intercontinental (G3); Argentine champion Dona Bruja; Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3) winner Insta Erma and runner-up Valadorna; Illinois-bred One Liz; and Golden Gate shipper Pyscho Sister.
The $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), figures to draw Eight Belles (G2) heroine Mia Mischief, second in both the Test (G1) and Prioress (G2) against fellow sophomores; Happy Like a Fool, not seen since dominating the Miss Preakness (G3); last year’s Raven Run (G2) winner Miss Sunset, exiting a CERF score at Del Mar; Princess Rooney (G2) runner-up Rich Mommy; multiple Grade 2 veteran Curlin’s Approval, back in business in a minor Gulfstream stakes; Chalon, unraced since romping in the June 17 Regret; and Torrent.
The $200,000 Woodford (G2) is not part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge program, but still promises clues ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Bucchero mounts a title defense against TwinSpires Turf Sprint (G3) victor Will Call; Grade 2 veteran Holding Gold; Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3) third Vici and fourth Undrafted, the division’s elder statesman; Iowa Sprint scorer Done Deal; Master Merion; and Machismo.
The $500,000 Spinster (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), is expected to attract last year’s third Blue Prize, an Argentine Group 1 winner who’s since annexed Churchill’s Falls City (G2), Fleur de Lis (G2), and Locust Grove (G3). Alabama (G1) romper Eskimo Kisses and fourth Talk Veuve to Me, previously dominant in the Indiana Oaks (G3), along with Monmouth Oaks (G3) winner Skeptic are ready to try elders. Others looking for the Grade 1 laurel are Ruffian (G2) victress Pacific Wind and Fuhriously Kissed.
The $250,000 Bourbon (G3), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), could mark the American debut of Godolphin’s smart Sandown debuter Art du Val from the Charlie Appleby yard. Unbeaten Kentucky Downs Juvenile hero Henley’s Joy and near-misser Tracksmith head the domestic team. Life Mission, runner-up in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint in his U.S. bow, and Gins and Tins, fourth in the Skidmore, both figure to appreciate the added ground. Rounding out the probables are Churchill maiden winner All American Hero, Kentucky Downs maiden-breakers Blockbuster and Salvator Mundi, and Prairie Meadows Juvenile scorer Mr Wrench It, who reverts to turf after flopping in the Iroquois.
The inaugural $200,000 Indian Summer, created as a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, may draw Shang Shang Shang, already in by virtue of beating the boys in the Norfolk (G2) when last spotted at Royal Ascot. Her stablemate from the Wesley Ward barn, Prix du Bois (G3) runner-up Chelsea Cloisters, was second in her stateside return in the Bolton Landing, and another Ward, Egoli, won first up at Belterra. Nitrous switches surfaces off a third in the Hopeful, as does Strike Silver after coming up a neck short in the Sanford. Blame the Frog and Perfect Answer tried the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint, where they were elevated to third and seventh respectively.
As usual, Wednesday is draw day for Saturday’s card, and Sunday’s program will be finalized Thursday.