Breeders' Cup Takeaways from Santa Anita September 30
The probable favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Juvenile Fillies (G1) were on display at Santa Anita as the Southern California venue featured five Grade 1 stakes Saturday. I’ll give my thoughts on the Breeders’ Cup implications.
PARADISE WOODS got back to her winning ways with what was essentially a paid workout for conditioner Richard Mandella. Speedy daughter of Union Rags was four lengths clear after a quarter-mile and never challenged in easily dismissing a trio of foes. I didn’t think a whole lot of the field and the sophomore filly didn’t exactly come home all that swiftly. Dual Grade 1 queen is a talent for sure but this division is loaded and I would need to see more consistency before taking her seriously in the Distaff.
Simon Callaghan’s MOONSHINE MEMORIES is now unbeaten from a trio of career starts and the clear divisional leader, annexing the Del Mar Debutante (G1) prior this affair. Fleet daughter of Malibu Moon passed the two-turn question and is proven over the Del Mar main surface, making her a most obvious player in the Juvenile Fillies.
Runner-up ALLURING STAR took command early and didn’t cave in the lane when passed by the eventual winner. $850,000 two-year-old purchase was most impressive at first asking at Del Mar and while she posted just a 68 BRIS Late Pace number in the Chandelier, the Bob Baffert barn knows how to handle a good filly. The bay will be a contender for sure if she trains well in the coming weeks.
PIEDI BIANCHI was well clear while second in the Debutante and finished third, more than nine lengths ahead of her nearest foe, in the Chandelier. Doug O’Neill pupil could have done better late to be second I suppose in a race where the final fractions were pedestrian, but it was still a positive showing for the dual Grade 1-placed lass. Bargain purchase has a nice foundation with four races under her belt and is intriguing in the Juvenile Fillies, with her affinity for the Del Mar strip.
Unbeaten BOLT D’ORO was sensational in the best performance of the weekend and will be the overwhelming Juvenile favorite. Mick Ruis pupil ran great in every stage of this race and always looked like a winner under Corey Nakatani, pulling clear with ease in the lane. Impressive colt earned a hefty 105 BRIS Speed number and looks untouchable right now with two of his three tallies coming at Del Mar.
SOLOMINI got clear for second late for Baffert, though his showing is a tricky read to me. Colt had to work hard to get by a 72-1 shot, though it was only his second lifetime try and improvement is fully expected from this outfit. At this stage, the youngster is no match for ‘Bolt, but things can change fast with juvenile males and Solomini remains a nice long-term prospect to me.
Mandella’s AVENGE spurted to a nice advantage in midstretch and held well to register a well-deserved win in this grassy affair. Handy mare by War Front has speed and some class to her, proven by her third-place showing in the 2016 Filly and Mare Turf (G1) behind a superb duo. I’m still not her biggest fan when it comes to running against the best turf distaffers in training, though this barn knows a thing of two on how to get one to peak for a big race. Five-year-old could hit the board again if she takes a nice step forward.
The next five finishers were separated by just more than a length, and I can’t see any of these making an impact at Del Mar next month.
The classy MUBTAAHIJ wore down the early leader en route to a 1 ½-length score in a fine first outing since joining the Baffert barn. The $4.5 million earner didn’t defeat any of the big guns in his West Coast debut but was strong late and I think he wants to run at least 10 furlongs, the distance of the $6 million Classic (G1). Irish-bred son of Dubawi is still lengths behind the top guns but with improvement next time out, and a contested pace to rally into, I could see the high-quality grinder getting a share of the big purse at Del Mar. Mubtaahij adds to the embarrassment of riches for an outfit that has four or five of the leading Classic contenders.
Stable companion CUPID looked like an easy winner approaching the turn for home but never fired in the lane, finishing a disappointing fourth. Son of Tapit looks better suited to the Dirt Mile (G1) in my opinion.
Overall, I think both juvenile races will play a huge role in the Breeders’ Cup, though the other trio of events lacked the star power and didn’t produce anything exceptional.