Breeders' Cup Roundup: Aug. 23, 2021
A bevy of important Breeders’ Cup prep races took place around the world last week, with many more on the slate for August’s final weekend.
Let’s catch up on all the newsworthy developments:
Tripoli, Astronaut post high-profile upsets at Del Mar
Saturday was a big day at Del Mar, where a pair of “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup qualifiers took place. Since Del Mar is hosting the 2021 Breeders’ Cup, the events provided an opportunity for local runners (and a few out-of-state shippers) to gain experience over the local footing.
The feature event of the afternoon was the Pacific Classic (G1), a track-and-distance prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Tripoli, who has improved dramatically since switching form turf to dirt, employed pace-tracking tactics to secure top honors at odds of 6-1. The John Sadler trainee stopped the clock in 2:02.37 while defeating multiple graded stakes winner Tizamagician by 1 1/4 lengths, with the rest of the field far behind.
Half an hour later, Astronaut sprung a 24-1 upset in the 1 3/8-mile Del Mar H. (G2), in the process securing a Win and You’re In berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Previously runner-up in the San Juan Capistrano S. (G3), the improving four-year-old rallied gamely from seventh place to defeat fellow longshots Master Piece and Acclimate in a driving finish. Favored United, runner-up in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf, ran into traffic before rallying late to finish fourth by less than a length.
Del Mar’s Saturday card also saw Going Global rally to a sharp victory in the Del Mar Oaks (G1) and Mo Forza shrug off a long layoff to win a strong renewal of the Del Mar Mile (G2). The latter could be destined for favoritism in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), considering he’s won seven of his last eight starts while scoring three graded wins over the Del Mar lawn.
Meanwhile, across the country at Saratoga, Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Malathaat overcame a stumbling start to win the 1 1/4-mile Alabama S. (G1), reiterating her credentials as a key contender for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).
Mishriff, Snowfall shine on the European front
A quartet of Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races took place in Europe last week, and while it remains to be seen how many of the winners will travel to Del Mar this fall, the results are nevertheless worth highlighting:
- In the Juddmonte International (G1) at York, Saudi Cup winner Mishriff was sensational, trouncing a deep field by half a dozen lengths. Winning the 1 5/16-mile turf test earned Mishriff a Win and You’re In berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, though trainer John Gosden has basically ruled out that race as an autumn goal.
- The three-year-old filly Snowfall was similarly impressive in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1) at York, exploding from near the back of the pack to beat older rivals by four lengths and secure a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) field. The Aidan O’Brien trainee has developed into a remarkable talent with four straight Group 1 wins under her belt, though a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) in France seems more likely than trip to the Breeders’ Cup three weeks later.
- The Nunthorpe S. (G1) at York, a five-furlong qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), saw the sophomore filly Winter Power parlay pace-tracking tactics into a comfortable 1 1/4-length triumph. The improving speedster has now proven victorious in five of her last six starts.
- The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) gained an automatic qualifier when Perfect Power strolled to victory in the Prix Morny (G1) at Deauville. Winner of the Norfolk S. (G2) at Royal Ascot two months ago, Perfect Power unleashed a strong finish from off the pace to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths.
Upcoming Win and You’re In qualifiers
The last Saturday in August is going to be a busy one for the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. Four stateside Win and You’re In qualifiers are on the agenda, with the schedule shaping up as follows:
- 28: Personal Ensign S. (G1) at Saratoga: Fillies and mares will race 1 1/8 miles in this steppingstone toward the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Horse of the Year contender Letruska looms as a formidable favorite, with 2020 Preakness S. (G1) heroine Swiss Skydiver the most likely to challenge.
- 28: Ballerina S. (G1) at Saratoga: While route runner shine in the Personal Ensign, female sprinters will take center stage in the seven-furlong Ballerina. Gamine, reigning winner of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), will seek a Win and You’re In berth to her title defense while squaring off against multiple Grade 1 winner Ce Ce.
- 28: Sword Dancer S. (G1) at Saratoga: Breeders’ Cup Turf contenders will race 1 1/2 miles on turf in the Sword Dancer, in which reigning champion turf male Channel Maker will face recent United Nations S. (G1) winner Tribhuvan and European raider Japan.
- 28: Pat O’Brien S. (G2) at Del Mar: A large field is expected to turn out for one of the weekend’s most competitive races, with Grade 1 winners Eight Rings and Flagstaff among the possible starters in this Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) qualifier.
In addition, the Saturday card at Saratoga includes three other Grade 1 events. The Travers S. (G1), a 1 1/4-mile for three-year-olds, will feature Belmont S. (G1) winner Essential Quality as he gears up for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1), a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores, is expected to draw the undefeated Life Is Good plus Grade 1 heroes Drain the Clock and Jackie’s Warrior.
Finally, the probable field for the seven-furlong Forego S. (G1) is packed with proven Grade 1 winners, including reigning Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore and Saratoga standout Mind Control.
Stay tuned to TwinSpires Edge for more coverage and analysis as the road to the Breeders’ Cup continues!