Breeders' Cup Roundup: Aug. 28, 2023

August 28th, 2023

Each week, J. Keeler Johnson reviews the latest news and results on the road to the 2023 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.

Echo Zulu, Bolshoi Ballet shine at Saratoga

On a busy week at Saratoga, a pair of Grade 1 stakes awarded “Win and You’re In” berths to the Breeders’ Cup.

In a meeting of past Breeders’ Cup winners, 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) heroine Echo Zulu beat 2022 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) winner Goodnight Olive by 2 1/2 lengths in the seven-furlong Ballerina H. (G1). Now 3-for-3 this year, Echo Zulu is shaping up as the favorite for this year’s Filly & Mare Sprint.

Meanwhile, the 1 1/2-mile Sword Dancer (G1) on turf went by 4 1/2 lengths to Bolshoi Ballet, a five-year-old European raider who previously shipped to the U.S. to win the 2021 Belmont Derby (G1). The Aidan O'Brien trainee qualified to the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1), a race in which he finished sixth in 2021.

Arcangelo, Gunite spring Saratoga surprises

A bevy of other Grade 1 stakes took place at Saratoga last week, and all could have Breeders’ Cup implications. Among the most important results:

  • Belmont (G1) winner Arcangelo beat a strong field of three-year-olds in the 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1) to emerge as a key contender for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
  • Improving sprinter Gunite capitalized on a slow pace to upset reigning Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Elite Power by 1 3/4 lengths in the seven-furlong Forego (G1).
  • Idiomatic led all the way over a sloppy track to upset 2022 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Secret Oath, champion Nest, and multiple Grade 1 winner Clairiere in the 1 1/8-mile Personal Ensign (G1), a pivotal steppingstone toward the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

Anarchist qualifies to Dirt Mile

A Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) berth was up for grabs in the seven-furlong Pat O’Brien (G2) at Del Mar, and the durable Anarchist took home the prize in his eighth start of the season, launching a well-timed rally to hold off deep closer Bye Bye Bobby by three-quarters of a length.

Mostahdaf among major winners at York

During the Ebor Festival at York Racecourse in England, a trio of Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In berths were awarded.

Five-year-old Mostahdaf was the first to strike, earning his way to the Breeders’ Cup Classic via a gate-to-wire victory over multiple Group 1 winners Nashwa and Paddington in the 1 5/16-mile Juddmonte International (G1).

The Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) picked up a qualifier in the form of Warm Heart, a three-year-old daughter of Galileo who conquered five-year-old Free Wind by a head in the 1 1/2-mile Yorkshire Oaks (G1).

Completing the Win and You’re In action was the Nunthorpe (G1), a five-furlong Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) steppingstone in which longshot Live in the Dream led all the way to defeat three-time Group 1 winner Highfield Princess by one length.