As the Nov. 6-7 Breeders’ Cup World Championships approach, stay up to speed on the latest developments with a weekly roundup of news and notes:
Breeders’ Cup Classic
The prospective Breeders’ Cup Classic shrank significantly last week when three horses withdrew from consideration.
The first to change gears was Blue Grass (G2) winner Art Collector. Coming off a fourth-place effort in the Preakness (G1), the 3-year-old son of Bernardini was rerouted to the shorter Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), where he’ll have a chance to rebound against easier competition than he would face in the Classic.
Meanwhile, Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner Happy Saver and Pacific Classic (G1) third-place finisher Midcourt will skip the Breeders’ Cup entirely. Coupled with the earlier defection of 2019 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Code of Honor, who will aim for the Clark H. (G1) or Cigar Mile (G1), it appears just ten horses are currently under consideration for a run in the Classic.
Unsurprisingly, all ten posted key pre-race workouts at racetracks across the country last week:
Authentic: Turned in a stiff workout on Saturday at Santa Anita, clocking 7 furlongs in 1:24.40.
By My Standards: Fired off another fast workout at Churchill Downs last Saturday, blazing 5 furlongs in a bullet :58.60.
Global Campaign: On Saturday at Churchill Downs, the Woodward H. (G1) winner turned in a maintenance half-mile move, cruising the distance in :48.00.
Higher Power: Stepped up to 7 furlongs for his latest workout at Keeneland, breezing 7 furlongs in 1:25.40 on Sunday.
Improbable: Recorded a solid 7-furlong workout of his own on Sunday at Santa Anita, traversing the distance in 1:25.00.
Maximum Security: Continues to train sharply off his defeat in the Awesome Again (G1), working 5 furlongs in a bullet :59.80 on Sunday at Santa Anita.
Swiss Skydiver: With plans to pre-enter both the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), Swiss Skydiver breezed a half-mile in :47.80 on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Tacitus: Cruised through a half-mile in :48.71 on Saturday at Belmont Park, which actually ranked among the faster workouts of the morning.
Tiz the Law: In his first breeze since arriving at Keeneland, the Belmont Stakes (G1) winner fired off 6 furlongs in 1:13.20 on Friday.
Tom’s d’Etat: Sped 6 furlongs in a bullet 1:12.80 on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
The retirement of three-time 2020 Group 1 winner Ghaiyyath is a blow to the prospective Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) field. The complexion of the race has changed dramatically in recent weeks, with Epsom Oaks (G1) heroine Love previously withdrawing from consideration.
The remaining international contingent is respectable, though certainly less formidable than it would have been with Ghaiyyath and Love in the mix. Six-time Breeders’ Cup Turf-winning trainer Aidan O’Brien is expected to saddle Group 1 winner Magical and Mogul, while John Gosden may send Lord North, a runaway winner of the June 17 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) racing 1 1/4 miles at Royal Ascot.
Lord North will attract plenty of respect if he competes at Keeneland, though the 4-year-old gelding has plenty of challenges to overcome. He’ll be stretching out in distance and running back just three weeks after finishing last in the Champion Stakes (G1) over soft ground at Ascot. At this time of year, there’s no guarantee he’ll find firmer ground at Keeneland, a question mark for his chances.
The condition of the Keeneland turf could determine the fate of several European shippers, including Irish 2,000 Guineas (G1) winner Siskin, who is tentatively slated to start in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). After winning his first five starts, the Juddmonte Farms homebred suffered from poor starts when third in the Sussex (G1) and fourth in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (G1). The Mile will provide Siskin with a final opportunity to rebound before heading to stud, though soft ground could prompt his withdrawal.
In other international news, a pair of Japanese runners are expected to contest either the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) or Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Jasper Prince, winner of the Enif S. sprinting 1,400 meters, will be joined by Pingxiang, a maiden winner dashing 1,200 meters. Both bring strong American dirt pedigrees to the equation, but they’ll be stepping up significantly in class for the Breeders’ Cup, making them tough runners to interpret.
Out of the Breeders’ Cup
Happy Saver, Midcourt, and Ghaiyyath weren’t the only runners to withdraw from Breeders’ Cup consideration last week. Another blow was dealt when five-time graded stakes winner Mo Forza suffered a minor training setback that will keep him out of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, where he loomed among the favorites to win.
The Distaff has also grown weaker in recent weeks. Clement L. Hirsch (G1) winner Fighting Mad and La Troienne (G1) runner-up Lady Kate will both skip the Breeders’ Cup to target other races, while Personal Ensign (G1) winner Vexatious will miss the Distaff after emerging from a workout “slightly off” per trainer Jack Sisterson.
A similar setback has befallen San Carlos (G2) winner Flagstaff, who will be forced to skip the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Lastly, Saffron Beach—undefeated winner of the Oh So Sharp (G3) in England—will pass on a previously announced run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and instead rest up for a 2021 campaign.
Pre-entries for the Breeders’ Cup are due on Monday, with release scheduled for Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. ET. Final entries and post positions will be drawn on Nov. 1.