Countdown to the Cup: Friday Frolics
It’s hard to believe we’re almost there. Monday, Oct. 25, is pre-entries day, and then we can dissect the plethora of Breeders’ Cup races in earnest.
You better ingest what follows quickly, because you can bet it’s going to change by the minute, as was the case with our rundown of the Nov. 6 races and the Marathon.
Since we last saw you, Richard's Kid has been literally yanked out of the Classic (gr. I) to be whisked off to Dubai to prepare for the World Cup (UAE-I). This move came no more than an hour or two after the horse worked and trainer Bob Baffert proclaimed him a horse to watch on Nov. 6. Some 24 hours later, Rip Van Winkle, who could have run in the Classic or Mile (gr. IT), was retired following a slight setback.
Dogwood Stable has jumped into the fray, sending recent allowance winner Aikenite to the Dirt Mile (gr. I) and Atoned, third in the Turfway Fall Championship (gr. III), to the Marathon. Another addition to the Marathon will be Falling Knife, second in the Turfway Fall Championship.
On the European front, John Gosden announced that the 6-year-old Tazeez, third in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) and Prince of Wales’s (Eng-I) and a winner of his last two starts, will run in the Emirates Airline Turf (gr. IT).
Now for the girls
An announcement is due any moment regarding the status of Evening Jewel, who will run in either this race or the Sentient Jet Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I). After taking a non-aggressive approach with her since the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), in which she suffered her second nose defeat at the hands of Blind Luck, her connections still have a shot to get her an Eclipse Award by winning the Ladies Classic. Stay tuned.
Blind Luck no doubt is the horse to beat, with another 3-year-old, Havre de Grace, right behind after holding on for a neck victory over Blind Luck in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion (gr. II). And we all know Switch, the Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) winner who was narrowly beaten by Zenyatta in the Lady’s Secret Stakes (gr. I). In her only dirt try, she was a well-beaten fourth in Gulfstream’s Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II).
The older fillies and mares will be headed by Beldame (gr. I) winner Life At Ten, along with Beldame runner-up Unrivaled Belle and Persistently, winner of the Personal Ensign (gr. I) and third in the Beldame.
EMIRATES AIRLINE FILLY AND MARE TURF
If Plumania shows up here instead of the Turf, she and Midday, last year’s F&M Turf (gr. IT) winner, will be a formidable pair, despite Plumania’s inexplicably bad race in the Arc de Triomphe. And if the Euros don’t get you, watch out for the Japanese filly Red Desire, who should improve dramatically off her excellent third in the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT). Earlier this year, she defeated eventual Dubai World Cup winner Gloria de Campaeo in the Maktoum Challenge on the Tapeta surface. Last year, she was a fast-closing third in the Japan Cup (Japan-I). This is a top-class filly.
The Americans will be headed by Flower Bowl winner Ave, the indefatigable Forever Together, Beverly D (gr. IT) winner Eclair de Lune, Beverly D runner-up Hot Cha Cha, and possibly Turning Top, Miss Keller, Keertana, and Shared Account. John Shirreffs is still undecided regarding the status of Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) and American Oaks (gr. iT) winner Harmonious.
Yellow Ribbon (gr. IT) winner Hibaayeb is a definite starter, but she is more European, having made only that one start in the U.S.
SENTIENT JET FILLY AND MARE SPRINT
You can pick out of a hat on this one. Without a standout in this division, a number of fillies have a legitimate shot to win. Of course, as of this writing, we don’t know where Evening Jewel will go.
Those who will be running are Champagne d'Oro, who is the horse to beat off her victories in the grade I Acorn and Test. Her fourth in the recent TCA Stakes (gr. II) over Keeneland’s Polytrack is a throwout race. She never got hold of the track and still was beaten only two lengths. Same with last year’s Sentient F&M Sprint winner Informed Decision, who will improve off her third in the TCA, and will love the long Churchill stretch.
Dubai Majesty, who won the TCA, is always tough, placing in a number of grade I and II stakes this year, and should be tough again.
They’ll all have Rightly So, the Ballerina (gr. I) winner, to catch, and this speedy New York-bred is always hard to catch, having been in the money in all 10 of her career starts.
And if you’re looking for the sleeper in here, watch out for Godolphin’s Sara Louise, who was a fast-closing third in the Gallant Bloom (gr. II) in her first start of the year. You’ll remember her for defeating Rachel Alexandra in the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. III) at 2, her win in the Victory Ride (gr. III) at Saratoga in her first start as a 3-year-old and her follow-up head defeat to Indian Blessing in the Gallant Bloom. She closed out the year with a victory in the Top Flight (gr. II) at Aqueduct. She could be very dangerous in here.
And you also have this year’s Gallant Bloom winner My Jen, Honorable Miss (gr. II) and Endine (gr. III) winner Secret Gypsy, as well as hard-knocking Jessica is Back and Sweet August Moon, and possibly Gallant Bloom runner-up Moontune Missy.
So you can see why this is such a tough and fascinating race.
GREY GOOSE JUVENILE FILLIES
This race took a major hit with the defection of Oak Leaf (gr. I) winner Rigoletta. But it did gain a potential star in Awesome Feather, who remained undefeated after romping by 8 ¼ lengths in the My Dear Girl division of the Florida Stallion Series. That gave her a sweep of the series and was her fifth win in as many starts. Her time for the 1 1/16 miles was two and two-fifths seconds faster than the colts went in the In Reality.
The Big Three in this race are Spinaway (gr. I) winner and Frizette (gr. I) runner-up R Heat Lightning, Frizette winner A Z Warrior, and Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) winner and Oak Leaf runner-up Tell a Kelly.
We also have to wait to see whether Mazarine Stakes (gr. III) winner Wyomia runs here or in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Others to watch are Harlan's Ruby, runner-up in the Alcibiades; Indian Gracey, third in the Oak Leaf; Jordy Y, third in the Alcibiades and second in the Arlington-Washington Lassie (gr. III), and Izshelegal, fourth in the Oak Leaf.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
Watch out for the two big guns, Winter Memories, explosive winner of the Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. IIIT), and Kathmanblu, powerful winner of the Jessamine Stakes (gr. IIIT). Both these fillies pack quite a knockout punch.
Aidan O’Brien will send Fillies Mile (Eng-III) winner Together. Others with impressive credentials are New Normal and More Than Real, one-two in the Natalma Stakes (gr. IIIT); Arch Support, second in the Miss Grillo; and Jazzy Jessy, winner of the Happy Ticket at Louisiana Downs.
Richard Hannon has a possibility in Tale Untold, who was beaten a nose in two special weight races at Newmarket.
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