If you’re wondering why a Lady Eli photo is associated with a Woodbine story, read on.
In contrast to Champions Day, Breeders’ Cup implications were much stronger on Sunday at Woodbine. Canadian International (G1) hero Erupt looked likely for the Turf (G1), judging by jockey Stephane Pasquier’s post-race comments. On Monday, the Santa Anita target was confirmed by the Niarchos Family’s racing manager, Alan Cooper.
As a European-based colt with an abundance of back class, but no recent luck, Erupt proved once again that some find North American conditions more congenial. That’s not a euphemism for Lasix either, since the Francis-Henri Graffard trainee didn’t use it. With his penchant for firm turf, Erupt is just the type to go well at Santa Anita.
Dartmouth ran his race in second, but he did have the best set-up and just wasn’t able to live with Erupt’s turn of foot. In the circumstances, I’m not sure Sir Michael Stoute would pursue a rematch at Santa Anita. If Dartmouth couldn’t beat Erupt over a Woodbine course that suits stamina-oriented types at 1 1/2 miles, I don’t see how he’d turn the tables over a lightning-quick course that puts a premium on finishing speed.
Conversely, The Pizza Man fans shouldn’t lose heart in the wake of his fourth in the Canadian International. Although he got up last time in the Northern Dancer Turf (G1), he’d been unplaced in his two prior Woodbine tries in 2014. Note that The Pizza Man has run well in his two sorties to Del Mar, notably winning last fall’s Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) on the rebound from his fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Since the English Channel gelding is happy in Southern California, he’s eligible to do better at Santa Anita.
E.P. Taylor (G1) winner Al’s Gal, also by English Channel, is eligible to perform well in the Filly & Mare Turf, with her tactical adaptability and rich vein of form for the Ramseys and Mike Maker. Although she’s liable to be outkicked by a couple with a sharper turn of foot at Santa Anita, Al’s Gal isn’t easy to pass, as Suffused found out Sunday.
At the same time, the E.P. Taylor can be interpreted as a form boost to Lady Eli. Al’s Gal had finished runner-up to Sea Calisi in the Beverly D. (G1), and Sea Calisi was just third to Lady Eli in the Flower Bowl (G1). Admittedly, that race didn’t set up particularly well for Sea Calisi. Still, in a 10-furlong test on firm turf, you’ve got to think that Lady Eli’s always going to have the upper hand over stablemate Sea Calisi.
Their trainer, Chad Brown, has a right to take additional encouragement from the E.P. Taylor result. He sent out Guapaza to finish a near-miss fourth from a virtually hopeless position. She’s a fine mare, but below Lady Eli, Sea Calisi, and the now-sidelined Dacita on the Brown depth chart. And the collateral formline through E.P. Taylor third-placer Banzari only reinforces Lady Eli’s bragging rights. If Guapaza can come within a length of winning the E.P. Taylor, Brown must be feeling good about the Filly & Mare Turf.
Of course, the international challenge will also be deeper at Santa Anita…
Lady Eli photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand