Breeders’ Cup Roundup: Oct. 9, 2023

October 9th, 2023

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

Idiomatic, Up to the Mark shine on Keeneland’s opening week

Opening week at Keeneland featured eight Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series qualifiers across a variety of divisions.

One of the most impressive winners was Idiomatic, who picked up her fourth straight graded victory when wiring the Spinster (G1) by 4 1/4 lengths. She earned her way to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) and is shaping up as the possible favorite for that contest.

Up to the Mark likewise kept a win streak alive in the Coolmore Turf Mile (G1), surging late to prevail by a nose. He’s won three straight Grade 1s and now owns a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), though the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) is another possible target.

Among sprinters, Yuugiri won the Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) by a nose to secure a Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) berth, while Hoist the Gold took the Phoenix (G2) to earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

Two-year-olds are always prominent at the Keeneland fall meet, and opening week was no exception. Candied rallied relentlessly to win the Alcibiades (G1), a steppingstone to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Locked overcame a wide trip to win the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) in gritty fashion, emerging as a key contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Buchu picked up a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) spot with a last-to-first triumph in the Jessamine (G2), and Can Group employed an identical strategy to win the Bourbon (G2) and qualify to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).

Juveniles earn Breeders’ Cup berths at Aqueduct

During a busy week of qualifiers at Aqueduct, two-year-olds earned tickets to each of the five Breeders’ Cup races for juveniles.

On Wednesday, Agate Road swooped from off the pace to win the Pilgrim (G2), qualifying to the Juvenile Turf. Hard to Justify utilized opposite tactics in the Miss Grillo (G2), tracking a slow pace before kicking on to earn a Juvenile Fillies Turf berth.

Saturday brought the Champagne (G1), in which Timberlake stamped his ticket to the Juvenile with a 4 1/4-length triumph, and the Frizette (G1), a Juvenile Fillies qualifier in which Just F Y I romped by 3 3/4 lengths to bring her career record to 2-for-2.

The Aqueduct action wrapped up with the Futurity S., a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1) qualifier that unfortunately got rained off the turf. The unbeaten Book’em Danno brought his record to 3-for-3 with a rallying 6 1/2-length triumph on dirt.

Didia, Muth, Chatalas qualify at Santa Anita

The Saturday card at Santa Anita featured a trio of Breeders’ Cup qualifiers.

In the Rodeo Drive (G2), a Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) steppingstone, Didia pounced from behind a modest pace to win comfortably. The American Pharoah (G1) went to heavy favorite Muth, who dominated the Juvenile qualifier by 3 3/4 lengths, while Chatalas wired the Chandelier (G2) to earn a Juvenile Fillies berth.

Three Witches earns Filly & Mare Sprint berth

The Filly & Mare Sprint picked up a possible contender when Three Witches earned a “Win and You’re In” berth in the Princess Rooney (G3) at Gulfstream Park, where she held off favored Maryquitecontrary to win by half a length.