Breeders' Cup Roundup: Sept. 12, 2022

September 12th, 2022

Summer racing at Del Mar wrapped up over the weekend while action at Kentucky Downs reached its zenith and the European racing scene lit up in a big way.

Let’s catch up on where things stand with 53 days until the 2022 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland:

Highfield Princess, Pearls Galore among Ireland’s Breeders’ Cup qualifiers

A huge weekend of racing at the Curragh and Leopardstown in Ireland saw five Breeders’ Cup qualifiers take place. Here’s how the action unfolded:

  • Arguably the most exciting result from a Breeders’ Cup perspective came in the five-furlong Flying Five S. (G1) at the Curragh. The sensational five-year-old mare Highfield Princess trounced her pursuers by 3 1/4 lengths to secure her third consecutive Group 1 win. The red-hot sprinter is improving with every start and has earned a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), which her connections plan to accept.
  • Also at the Curragh, Tahiyra sprung an upset in the seven-furlong Moyglare Stud S. (G1), rallying to defeat the previously undefeated heavy favorite Meditate by 2 1/4 lengths. Trained by Dermot Weld, Tahiyra is now 2-for-2 and owns a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) should her connections choose to accept it.
  • Leopardstown’s 1 1/4-mile Irish Champion S. (G1) saw a mild upset as the lightly raced three-year-old Luxembourg forged to victory by half a length over Group 1 winners Onesto, Vadeni, and Mishriff. The triumph earned Luxembourg a Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) berth, but his primary autumn target is the Oct. 2 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) in France.
  • A bigger surprise unfolded in the Matron S. (G1) for fillies and mares racing one mile at Leopardstown, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Over soft ground, Pearls Galore led all the way to beat Breeders’ Cup contender Saffron Beach by three lengths. Pearls Galore ran sixth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Mile, but the Matron marked her first Group 1 victory, suggesting the five-year-old mare is only now reaching her peak.
  • In the KPMG Champions Juvenile S. (G2) at Leopardstown, a one-mile qualifier to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), Auguste Rodin delivered as the heavy favorite for trainer Aidan O’Brien, finishing up nicely in the final quarter-mile to score by 1 1/2 lengths. The beautifully bred son of Deep Impact out of Breeders’ Cup-placed Rhododendron ranks among O’Brien’s most promising juveniles, but it remains to be seen if he’ll make the trip to Keeneland.

Bran, Red Knight upset Kentucky Downs qualifiers

Stateside Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series action took place on Saturday at Kentucky Downs, where a pair of rich qualifiers served as the feature events on a stakes-packed afternoon:

  • In the six-furlong Turf Sprint S. (G2), a stepping stone toward the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Bran got the job done at odds of 11-1. Winner of the Daytona S. (G3) during the spring at Santa Anita, the French-bred four-year-old rallied strongly from seventh place to beat pacesetter Artemus Citylimits by a neck, with favored Arrest Me Red settling for third place. The final time of 1:07.41 was a new course record.
  • The 1 1/2-mile Kentucky Turf Cup (G2) likewise produced an upset as Red Knight closed from ninth place to win by a nose over Sword Dancer S. (G1) winner Gufo, with John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3) winner Another Mystery just a neck back in third place. Red Knight started at 12-1 even though he entered off a victory in the Colonial Cup S. at Colonial Downs. At the age of eight, Red Knight is only now finding his best form, just in time to earn a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Cave Rock, And Tell Me Nolies pick up Grade 1 titles at Del Mar

California’s first two Grade 1 juvenile tests of 2022 took place on closing weekend at Del Mar. The results could have Breeders’ Cup implications:

  • In the Del Mar Debutante (G1), an important stepping stone toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), And Tell Me Nolies produced a perfectly timed rally to defeat 7-10 favorite Home Cooking by a head. Home Cooking led by three lengths passing the eighth pole, but And Tell Me Nolies—a Peter Miller trainee fresh off a maiden victory at Del Mar—came charging from ninth place to spring a 9-1 upset. She completed the seven-furlong sprint in 1:23.29.
  • In the Del Mar Futurity (G1), a prominent prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), Cave Rock ran out of his skin to bring his record to a perfect 2-for-2. The speedy son of Arrogate carved out sensational fractions of :21.56 and :43.65 before finishing up strongly to dominate by 5 1/4 lengths over Best Pal (G2) winner Havnameltdown, completing seven furlongs in the stakes-record time of 1:20.99.

Upcoming Win and You’re In qualifiers

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series makes a stop in Canada this week for a trio of one-mile grass races. Here’s what Breeders’ Cup fans can anticipate:

  • Saturday: Woodbine Mile (G1) at Woodbine: Reigning Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Modern Games enters off a runner-up effort in the Sussex S. (G1) behind unbeaten superstar Baaeed and is surely the runner to beat in this Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) qualifier. But defending Woodbine Mile winner Town Cruise and the red-hot Filo Di Arianna are among the accomplished home-team defenders.
  • Saturday: Summer S. (G1) at Woodbine: Trainer Charlie Appleby won this Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf qualifier last year with Albahr, and he’s returning to the table in 2022 with Prix Francois Boutin (G3) winner Mysterious Night.
  • Saturday: Natalma S. (G1) at Woodbine: Speaking of Appleby, he saddled Wild Beauty to win the 2021 Natalma, and he’ll aim to claim this Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf qualifier again with Prestige S. (G3) winner Fairy Cross.

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