Keeneland's fall meet kicks off Friday with its now familiar Fallstars Weekend and with three weeks to the World Thoroughbred Championships, Breeders' Cup implications certainly abound at the Lexington track. Fallstars Weekend features three action-packed days of racing with eight graded stakes and more than $3.4 million in stakes purses.
On the opening day card, expect to see Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith's sensational Sense of Style
in the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-old fillies. In the Phoenix Breeders' Cup (gr. III), a field of 11 is shaping up for the six-furlong event.
Four out of the last 12 winners of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) have come out of the Alcibiades.
According to Keeneland racing secretary Ben Huffman, Sense of Style will perhaps face seven rivals in the 1 1/16th mile, two-turn Alcibiades. Sense of Style is unbeaten in three starts and the daughter of Thunder Gulch comes off a win in the one-mile Matron Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park at 30 cents on the dollar. In her two previous starts at Saratoga, she broke her maiden by 2 1/2 lengths, then won the seven-furlong Spinaway Stakes (gr. II) by 6 3/4 lengths.
Fellow Saratoga stakes winner Classic Elegance
, Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes winner Punch Appeal
, and John Oxley's Miss Matched
appear have the best credentials of the others expected.
Classic Elegance came from far back to win the six-furlong Schuylerville Stakes (gr. II) at the Spa for Bob and Beverly Lewis and trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas, already the all-time leading trainer at Keeneland by wins, needs just one to reach the 250-win plateau. Classic Elegance, a $650,000 Keeneland September sale graduate by Carson City
out of the Halo mare Taegu, faded to seventh behind Sense of Style in the Spinaway. She recently posted a :49 2/5 work at Churchill Downs Oct. 1.
Punch Appeal's one-mile Kentucky Cup win came around two turns for Heiligbrodt Stable and Burning Daylight Farm. She also finished behind Sense of Style in the Spinaway, but won back-to-back stakes at Calder earlier this summer. By first-year sire Successful Appeal
, Florida-bred Punch Appeal is trained by Steve Asmussen.
Miss Matched, a daughter of Formal Gold
--Ivory Princess, by Cure the Blues, beat both Classic Elegance and Punch Appeal while finishing second in the Spinaway. She broke her maiden by 12 1/2 lengths at Monmouth in her debut on July 15. Trained by John T. Ward Jr., Miss Matched fired a bullet 1:00 five-furlong drill over the Keeneland surface Sept. 30.
Huffman noted that In the Gold, Sharp Lisa, Shebelongstoyou
, and Sweet Talker
will likely show up for the race when entries are taken Wednesday.
In the Phoenix, Huffman expects (in alphabetical order): Arbitrate, Canadian Frontier, Champali, Clock Stopper, Coach Jimi Lee, Deer Lake, Eavesdropper, Gold Storm, Hosco, Private Horde
, and Wildcat Heir
Joyce Robsham's Canadian Frontier and Keith McKinney and Jack Sweesy's Gold Storm bring winning streaks to the table in the Phoenix. Canadian Frontier, by Gone West
out of the multiple grade II-winning Borodislew, has scored back-to-back stakes wins at Monmouth Park while Gold Storm's three-race win streak have come at three different tracks: Lone Star, Retama Park, and Arlington Park.
Overbrook Farm's Clock Stopper, by Gilded Time
returns to Keeneland off three straight runner-up efforts, but they've come at the expense of some of the top sprinters in the country: Champali, Speightstown, and Midas Eyes. The Greg Foley-trained Champali won the Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. III) at Calder by a nose in July. In one start since, he tired to finish third behind Gold Storm and Super Fuse in the Arlington Sprint Breeders' Cup Handicap.