Eight Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” events are on tap at Keeneland’s opening Fall Stars Weekend, and the two turf Grade 1s will offer international flavor.
Thanks to Keeneland publicity and stakes coordinator Allison DeLuca, here is Monday’s latest on the projected fields for the cornucopia of stakes Friday through Sunday.
$400,000 Alicibiades (G1), WAYI for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1): Sorority heroine Pacific Gale is listed as probable to stretch out here, although NYRA still has her as possible for Sunday’s Frizette (G1). Pocahontas (G2) runner-up Kelly’s Humor, previously successful in the Ellis Park Debutante; Arlington-Washington Lassie romper Bet She Wins; Princess Warrior, a debut winner at Churchill Downs; Kentucky Downs maiden winners Heavenly Love and Over Thinking; Arlington debut scorer Drama Run; and Happy Ticket runner-up Caroline the Great are likewise expected. The three possibles are Spinaway (G1) second Maya Malibu (but probable for the Frizette at Belmont), unbeaten Canterbury stakes victress Amy’s Challenge, and Sassy Sienna, third in Saratoga’s P.G. Johnson.
$250,000 Phoenix (G2), WAYI for the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1): Unstoppable through the first half of the year, Whitmore tries to regain the winning thread after thirds in the True North (G2) and Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash (G3). Limousine Liberal, just denied by a nostril in this race last year, recently had a three-stakes winning streak halted with a third in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1). Favorite Tale has rarely been spotted since his third in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint to Runhappy and Private Zone, right here at Keeneland, and makes just his second start back from a nearly 18-month layoff. Speedy sophomore Uncontested, back in his comfort zone after failing to route; Laurel shipper It’s the Journey, who made it four straight in the Challedon; Awesome Banner, second in the Vanderbilt and fourth in the DeFrancis; Threefiveindia, exiting a sharp Saratoga allowance tally; Loose on the Town, placed in a pair of stakes at the Spa this summer; Gulfstream invader Richard the Great; Aquamarine, most recently fourth in the Gallant Bob (G3); and Seventh Sense, yet to reach the level of full sister Reneesgotzip, round out the likely field.
$1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), WAYI for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1): Aidan O’Brien’s Lancaster Bomber and the David O’Meara duo of Mondialiste and Suedois make for a substantial international presence. Lancaster Bomber and Mondialiste were last seen finishing second and fourth, respectively, to World Approval in the Woodbine Mile (G1), while Suedois appreciated the step up to a mile to take the Boomerang (aka Solonaway) (G2) on Irish Champions Weekend. British import Time Test hopes for a quicker surface than he encountered at Saratoga when a game second, also to World Approval, in the Fourstardave (G1). Also coming out of the Fourstardave are Ballagh Rocks (third) and American Patriot (last of six), who returns to the scene of his career high in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1). Heart to Heart captured the Spa’s other major event in this division, the Bernard Baruch (G2). (Sunday’s NYRA notes suggested he’d stay in New York, however, for a title defense in next Monday’s Knickerbocker [G3].) Two-time Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) star Divisidero shortens up after a pair of unplaced efforts over 10 furlongs, while Offering Plan steps up from the New York-bred stakes scene, and multiple Argentinean Group 1 victor Le Ken aims to improve off his U.S. debut fifth in the Del Mar Mile (G2). Others in the mix are Ft. Lauderdale (G2) upsetter Flatlined, second in the Tourist Mile to Applicator; nine-year-old veteran Dimension; and recent allowance winners Christian C (at Arlington) and Tyler U (Kentucky Downs). The maximum field is 14, so if all of the probables enter, there’ll be an also-eligible.
$500,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1), WAYI for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1): Hopeful (G1) runner-up Free Drop Billy and close third Givemeaminit are set for a rematch, as are Iroquois (G3) hero The Tabulator and third-placer Ten City. (Note that Free Drop Billy is working at Churchill and expected here, but NYRA has him on the list for Saturday’s Champagne [G1]. Crea’s Bklyn Law, fifth in the Saratoga Special [G2] and still up at the Spa as of last Friday’s workout, is another listed for the Champagne.) Saratoga maiden winners Bourbon Resolution and Lone Sailor, and fellow maiden scorers Bravazo (Churchill) and Lone Rock (Indiana Downs), would take the class hike, along with multiple Evangeline Downs stakes victor Ready Prospector. The possibles are Arlington-Washington Futurity runner-up Captivating Moon, whom trainer Chris Block would prefer to run in the grassy Bourbon (G3) (if it’s not oversubscribed); Churchill debut romper Promises Fulfilled; and five-length Delaware debut hero Rivington.
$400,000 First Lady (G1), WAYI for Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1): Horse-for-the-course Miss Temple City is currently inclined to stay in her own division rather than defend her title in the Shadwell. Dickinson, who edged Lady Eli during the Spring Meet here in the Jenny Wiley (G1), finished second to her (beating Roca Rojo) in the Ballston Spa (G2) last out. Dona Bruja just had her five-race winning skein snapped when a dead-heat runner-up in the Beverly D. (G1), in which Hawksmoor was seventh, Ballydoyle shipper Rain Goddess was eighth, and Zipessa was ninth. Zipessa has since rebounded to come within a neck of Miss Temple City in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3). Rain Goddess has likewise returned to form back home in Ireland, winning the Snow Fairy (G3) and placing third in the Blandford (G2) for O’Brien. The other international probable is the Andreas Wohler-trained Delectation, a multiple Group 3 vixen who just beat older males at Dusseldorf. Illinois-bred stakes scorer One Liz concludes the list.
$250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2), WAYI for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1): A neck away from a perfect 2017, Finley’sluckycharm returns for the first time since her near-miss in the Honorable Miss (G2). Ivy Bell, runner-up to Finley’sluckycharm in the Chicago (G3), clipped heels and unseated her rider in the Open Mind, but makes a quick comeback in this spot. Bendable, third in the 2016 TCA, ships in from Southern California to give it another go. Prioress (G2) heroine Vertical Oak; Grace’s Treasure, promoted winner of the Open Mind; I’m a Looker, second to Ivy Bell in the West Virginia Secretary of State; and Moiety round out the probables, while Jersey Girl romper Chalon and Parx allowance winner True Romance are possible.
The $200,000 Woodford (G2) isn’t a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, but figures to have some implications with 2015 Turf Sprint (G1) hero and defending Woodford champion Mongolian Saturday, most recently second in the Turf Monster (G3). Hogy, second in this race last year, just bested Commend and Indy Hill in the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint. Big Rock, victorious over Hogy at the Spa two back, exits a third in the Lucky Coin.
$500,000 Spinster (G1), WAYI for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1): New York-bred celebrity Bar of Gold, who just garnered her eighth graded stakes placing when second in the Presque Isle Downs Masters (G2), may have alighted upon her best opportunity for a top-level coup. Her projected rivals include Martini Glass, briefly famous for running Songbird to a length in the Delaware H. (G1); the superfecta from the Locust Grove at Churchill, Romantic Vision, Blue Prize, Tiger Moth, and Mo d’Amour; Factory of Faith still in search of her first black-type; and Ohio-bred Katalust.
$250,000 Bourbon (G3), WAYI for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G3): Summer (G2) third Admiralty Pier tries to uphold the form against well-bred Kentucky Downs maiden winners Tap Daddy and Tigers Rule; Saratoga debut scorer Machtree, only 10th of 11 in the With Anticipation (G3); Flameaway, who gets his chance on turf after a sixth in the Iroquois; unbeaten Budro Talking, winner of the Sunday Silence over High Providence; John Tippmann and Arawak, second and third in the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile; Fred’stwirlincandy, successful at Kentucky Downs in his fourth attempt, with Wicked Trick third as a first-time starter; and turf and stakes debuter Trenton Traveler on a steep class hike. Two juveniles are possible – Way Early, successful first time out at Belmont, and The X, a debut winner over the Ellis turf who was last when trying synthetic in the Arlington-Washington Futurity.
Photo of the Shadwell Turf Mile trophy, with 2016 winner Miss Temple City in the background, courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography