Saturday’s $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) will not only offer up a guaranteed spot to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on October 31 via the “Win & You’re In” Challenge series, it’s part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby that awards points toward a berth in the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1).
With so much being presented to the winner, it’s no surprise that the field came up just two shy of the maximum 14 allowed. The 1 1/16-mile race features a nice mix of maidens, maiden winners and stakes scorers.
Exaggerator belongs to the latter group after taking the August 16 Saratoga Special S. (G2) by three parts of a length. The Keith Desormeaux trainee broke his maiden at Del Mar one month prior and continued his travels around the country as he arrived in Kentucky to prepare for the Breeders’ Futurity in September. Kent Desormeaux was aboard for Exaggerator’s maiden score and takes back the mount on Saturday as the dark bay colt stretches out past 6 1/2 furlongs for the first time.
Uncle Vinny will also be going longer in the Breeders’ Futurity, having last been seen finishing third in the one-mile Hopeful S. (G1) at Saratoga. Prior to that the Uncle Mo juvenile was awarded the win in the six-furlong Sanford S. (G3) after running second by three parts of a length to Magna Light, who was disqualified. Trainer Todd Pletcher is adding blinkers to Uncle Vinny’s tack, and the bay colt is also getting a jockey switch to Luis Saez.
Sticksstatelydude was supposed to run in the Hopeful following his two-length maiden victory on August 1 at Saratoga, but a temperature kept the bay colt in the barn. He’ll make his belated stakes bow in the Breeders’ Futurity for trainer Greg Burchell.
Others of note in the Breeders’ Futurity include Rated R Superstar, runner-up at 11-1 in the Iroquois S. (G3) going the distance at Churchill Downs last out; British shipper Hawkbill, who gets first-time Lasix as he tries for his fourth straight victory; and Pinnacle Peak, a 10-length romper against Prairie Meadows stakes rivals prior to a third-placing in the Sapling S. at Monmouth Park.
Exaggerator photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography
The Breeders’ Futurity isn’t the only “Win & You’re In” event on Saturday at Keeneland. The $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America S. (G2) will award the winner a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) starting gate and actually features that race’s defending champion in Judy the Beauty.
The Wesley Ward trainee parlayed her Filly & Mare Sprint win into Eclipse Award honors as the 2014 champion female sprinter. Judy the Beauty suffered only one loss last year in five starts, but brings a pair of placings into just her third start of the 2015 season in the TCA. The six-year-old mare debuted in May under the Twin Spires, missing by only a neck in the Humana Distaff S. (G1), and was third about three months later in the Honorable Miss H. (G2).
Mike Smith will be aboard Judy the Beauty as she takes on seven rivals in Saturday’s TCA. Among her biggest foes are Leigh Court and Fioretti.
The former captured the Thoroughbred Club of America last year by three lengths before fading to fifth in the Filly & Mare Sprint, and has placed in her two 2015 races at Woodbine and Presque Isle Downs. Fioretti is seeking to add a first graded win to her resume after taking her initial stakes score in the Roxelana S. in June and finishing a half-length second in the Groupie Doll S. (G2) last out.
Judy the Beauty photo courtesy of BC Ltd.
Also scheduled for Keeneland’s Fall Stars Saturday program is the $150,000 Woodford S. (G3) going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.
An overflow field of 16 entered the race but the headliner is easily five-year-old gelding Undrafted. The Woodford will be just the second start for that Kentucky-bred chestnut since he traveled to Royal Ascot in June for an upset victory in the Diamond Jubilee S. (Eng-G1).
The Ward charge returned to be second in the More Than Ready Mile S. last out on September 5 and likely is using the Woodford as his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), a race in which he ran third by a half-length in 2014.
Undrafted photo courtesy of GBI Racing via Twitter