Breeders' Cup Roundup: Oct. 3, 2022

October 3rd, 2022

Five weeks out from the 2022 Breeders’ Cup, prep races are unfolding at a blazing pace as key contenders stake their claims for favoritism at Keeneland.

There’s a ton to recap from last weekend and a similar amount to preview for next weekend, so let’s dive in and catch up on the latest Breeders’ Cup news and notes:

Seven stateside stars stamp their Breeders’ Cup tickets

The first weekend in October was a busy one with seven Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races taking place from coast to coast at Belmont at the Big A, Churchill Downs, and Santa Anita. Let’s take a quick look at each result:

  • One of the richest prizes of the weekend was the Champagne S. (G1), a prominent steppingstone toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Over a sloppy track at Belmont at the Big A, Blazing Sevens unleashed a big rally from last place to defeat Verifying by 3 1/4 lengths. The Chad Brown trainee rebounded sharply from a third-place finish in the Hopeful S. (G1) and appears to have a bright future.
  • Another lucrative prize at Belmont at the Big A was the Frizette S. (G1), a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) qualifier. Flashy Saratoga maiden winner Chocolate Gelato was favored to claim top honors and ran to expectations, unleashing a quick pounce from off the pace to score by one length over You’re My Girl, with Spinaway S. (G1) winner Leave No Trace settling for third place.
  • Juveniles also competed over the Belmont at the Big A grass last weekend. Pleasant Passage struck first, leading all the way over a yielding course to beat Free Look by three-quarters of a length in the Miss Grillo S. (G2). The bay filly is undefeated in two starts for trainer Shug McGaughey and earned a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
  • Two-year-old males took center stage in the Pilgrim S. (G2) over the Belmont at the Big A lawn. The stakes-placed Major Dude was a 10-1 longshot in his grass debut, but the son of Bolt d’Oro tracked a slow pace over a yielding course and tenaciously turned back a bid from 3-4 favorite I’m Very Busy to win by one length, stamping his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
  • Across the country at Santa Anita, the Awesome Again S. (G1) was the highlight of the weekend. Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Country Grammer was favored to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) qualifier, but in the end his stablemate Defunded stole the show, rebounding from a sixth-place finish in the Pat O’Brien S. (G2) to lead all the way and defeat Country Grammer by 1 3/4 lengths.
  • Also at Santa Anita, the Speakeasy S. went the way of Speed Boat Beach, who set and then pressed epic fractions of :21.06 and :43.36 before driving clear to score by 1 1/4 lengths. The Bob Baffert trainee stopped the clock in a rapid :55.25 and qualified to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1).
  • Churchill Downs hosted the Ack Ack S. (G3), a steppingstone toward the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Further flattering the form of the above-mentioned Pat O’Brien S. (G2), Senor Buscador parlayed a third-place finish from that Del Mar sprint into a sharp 1 1/4-length triumph in the Ack Ack.

Alpinista leads a bevy of French Breeders’ Cup qualifiers

The first Sunday in October saw the running of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) and five other Group 1 prizes at ParisLongchamp in France. The giant day of racing included five “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup qualifiers, which unfolded as follows:

  • The star of the day was the five-year-old mare Alpinista, who picked up her sixth consecutive Group 1 victory when defeating males in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. She relished the very soft turf while digging deep to defeat Vadeni by half a length, and the win gave Alpinista a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). With only three runs under her belt this season, a trip to Keeneland isn’t necessarily out of the cards.
  • Another exciting winner was The Platinium Queen, who became the first two-year-old since 1978 to defeat older horses in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (G1). The Platinum Queen held off White Lavender by a short neck in this Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) qualifier, but since the Turf Sprint isn’t open to two-year-olds, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint will have to be The Platinum Queen’s goal if she comes to Keeneland.
  • The Prix de l’Opera (G1) produced a stunning upset as Place Du Carrousel rebounded from a distant defeat in the Prix de Diane (G1) to beat Diane winner Nashwa by three-quarters of a length. The victory secured Place Du Carrousel a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
  • Blue Rose Cen could be bound for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf after pouncing to a powerful victory in the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1). The daughter of Churchill kicked away strongly down the homestretch to crush 11 rivals by five lengths, giving trainer Christopher Head his first victory at the Group 1 level.
  • A thrilling finish unfolded in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1), a steppingstone toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. In the end, it was Prix du Bois (G3) winner Belbek who got up to beat Gamestop by a neck, with Breizh Sky another neck behind in third place.

Other notable graded stakes results

In addition to the official Breeders’ Cup qualifiers, many other Breeders’ Cup-relevant graded stakes took place last weekend. Let’s highlight three of the most noteworthy results:

  • In the Woodward S. (G1) at Belmont at the Big A, reigning Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile hero Life Is Good led all the way to beat a small field by 1 1/4 lengths. Off a slow pace, Life Is Good dashed the final three furlongs in a quick :36.50 to record a final time of 1:49.57 over a sloppy track, wrapping up his preparations for either the Breeders’ Cup Classic or a Dirt Mile defense.
  • In the Lukas Classic (G2) at Churchill Downs, the tough-as-nails Hot Rod Charlie successfully turned back a homestretch challenge from Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Rich Strike to prevail by a head. Runner-up in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and fourth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Hot Rod Charlie is expected to give the Classic another try in 2022.
  • In the Chillingworth S. (G3) at Santa Anita, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) winner Ce Ce returned to peak form with a comfortable victory. The six-year-old mare shrugged off a fifth-place finish from the Ballerina H. (G1) at Saratoga to sweep past the leaders and nab Sunday’s 6 1/2-furlong sprint by 2 1/4 lengths, earning her third graded win of the year.

Upcoming Win and You’re In qualifiers

Last week’s Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series action featured an international flavor, but this week’s slate is focused exclusively on the United States. No fewer than 14 “Win and You’re In” qualifiers are on the agenda, including nine during opening week of the Keeneland fall meet.

Here’s how the schedule is shaping up:

  • Friday: Alcibiades S. (G1) at Keeneland: As of Sunday, Keeneland lists Boss Lady Bailey, Chop Chop, Essaouira, Fun and Feisty, Infinite Diamond, Just Cindy, Stellar Lady, and Wonder Wheel among the possible starters for this 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies qualifier.
  • Friday: Jessamine S. (G2) at Keeneland: Possible entries for this 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf steppingstone include C C Cruise Control, Chop Chop, Dulcia, Play the Music, Promise of Hope, Towhead, and What an Honor.
  • Friday: Phoenix S. (G2) at Keeneland: Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) contenders will square off over six furlongs in this historic stakes. The potential field includes Baytown Bear, Long Range Toddy, Meraas, Necker Island, Nakatomi, Sibelius, Sir Alfred James, Special Reserve, and Top Gunner.
  • Saturday: Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland: This pivotal 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile qualifier could feature Carmel Road, Forte, Frosted Departure, Funtastic Again, Good Heart, Honed, Jin Tong, Lost Ark, National Treasure, Powerful, and Two Phil’s.
  • Saturday: Coolmore Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland: This $1 million grass mile serves as a steppingstone to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), and its rich purse is expected to draw Casa Creed, Emaraaty, Greyes Creek, In Love, Ivar, Masen, Princess Grace, Santin, Set Piece, Smooth Like Strait, Somelikeithotbrown, and Winfromwithin.
  • Saturday: Thoroughbred Club of America S. (G2) at Keeneland: Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint contenders expected to tackle this six-furlong dash include Bell’s the One, Club Car, Happy Soul, Joyful Cadence, Liberty M D, Palm Cottage, Sconsin, and Slammed.
  • Saturday: American Pharoah S. (G1) at Santa Anita: The exciting Del Mar Futurity (G1) winner Cave Rock looms as a heavy favorite in this 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile qualifier.
  • Saturday: Chandelier S. (G2) at Santa Anita: Del Mar Debutante S. (G1) 1-2 finishers And Tell Me Nolies and Home Cooking would be logical contenders if they start in this 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies steppingstone. But don’t overlook sharp Del Mar maiden winner Justique, who finished ahead of Home Cooking in their mutual debut.
  • Saturday: Rodeo Drive S. (G1) at Santa Anita: Steve Anderson of the Daily Racing Form has reported Grade 1 winners Going Global and Going to Vegas as contenders for this 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf steppingstone.
  • Saturday: Vosburgh S. (G2) at Belmont at the Big A: On Friday, the New York Racing Association listed Drafted, Eastern Bay, Elite Power, Southern District, Fire Sword, Kadri, and Willy Boi as probable or possible starters for this seven-furlong Breeders’ Cup Sprint qualifier.
  • Sunday: Futurity S. (G3) at Belmont at the Big A: A steppingstone toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, the six-furlong Futurity may draw Dunedin, Gaslight Dancer, Inflation Nation, Nagirroc, Power Attack, and Vacation Dance.
  • Sunday: Bourbon S. (G2) at Keeneland: A promising field is expected to turn out for this 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf qualifier, including B Minor, Boppy O, Gigante, Good Heart, Mendel’s Secret, Oscar Award, Rarified Flair, Really Good, Reckoning Force, and Red Route One.
  • Sunday: Indian Summer S. at Keeneland: This qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint could attract Danse Macabre, Love Reigns, No Kay Never, No Nay Hudson, and Private Creed to battle over 5 1/2 furlongs.
  • Sunday: Spinster S. (G1) at Keeneland: Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) contenders targeting this prestigious 1 1/8-mile event include champions Letruska and Malathaat plus Army Wife, Played Hard, and Princess of Cairo.

Stay tuned to TwinSpires Edge for more coverage and analysis as the road to the Breeders’ Cup continues.