Breeders' Cup Roundup: Vandeek qualifies; Randomized, Anisette win G1s

August 21st, 2023

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

Randomized, Anisette nab Grade 1 wins

A couple of Grade 1 races for three-year-old fillies contested last Saturday could have Breeders’ Cup implications.

The Alabama (G1) at Saratoga was the highlight of the weekend. A strong field assembled for the 1 1/4-mile dirt contest, and Randomized stole the show in a 7-1 upset, leading all the way to beat Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) winner Wet Paint by four lengths in 2:03.07. Randomized has shown flashes of serious talent this year and could make a late-season run at division leadership, particularly if she holds her own in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) against older rivals.

Meanwhile at Del Mar, Anisette picked up her fourth consecutive victory when surging from last to first in the 1 1/8-mile Del Mar Oaks (G1) on grass. Last month’s San Clemente (G2) winner was full of run down the homestretch and blew past her rivals to win by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:48.15, making her an interesting contender for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).

Vandeek stays unbeaten in Prix Morny

Sunday’s Prix Morny (G1) at Deauville in France was the lone Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series qualifier contested last week. The six-furlong dash awarded a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1) “Win and You’re In” berth to the victorious Vandeek, a Simon and Ed Crisford trainee who brought his record to a perfect 3-for-3 with a short neck victory over favored Ramatuelle.

At The Races has reported the Sept. 30 Middle Park (G1) at Newmarket at England is next on Vandeek’s agenda.

Top three-year-olds face off in Travers

The upcoming Saturday card at Saratoga features five Grade 1 stakes highlighted by the 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1) for three-year-olds, an important steppingstone toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

A fantastic field is shaping up for the Travers. Last year’s champion two-year-old male Forte looks like the favorite, but he’ll have to reckon with Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage, Preakness (G1) hero National Treasure, and Belmont (G1) victor Arcangelo, the winners of the three Triple Crown races.

One day prior, 2022 champion three-year-old filly Nest will face multiple Grade 1 winner Clairiere and 2022 Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine Secret Oath in an exciting renewal of the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga. The prestigious 1 1/8-mile contest will help determine the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.