Jockey Javier Castellano was at Churchill Downs Oct. 29 to send Stopshoppingmaria through a sparkling turf breeze in company with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IIT) contender Sweet Cat.
A decision as to whether the Repole Stables’ Stopshoppingmaria will start in that race or in the Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) is expected to be announced Oct. 30.
The Todd Pletcher trainees walked onto the turf course and backed up to the sixteenth pole after morning works had been completed over the main dirt track. Working with dogs up, Sweet Cat broke about one length in front and kept pace under hand urging when Stopshoppingmaria drew up on even terms.
Stopshoppingmaria was a bit in front at the wire while timed for five furlongs in 1:04 2/5. Sweet Cat was credited with a 1:04 4/5 clocking.
“I really liked the way they went off easily and finished up really strong,” Pletcher remarked. “Stopshoppingmaria handled the surface well; she got over it with no problems. I talked to Mike (Repole) and we decided we’ll make a decision tomorrow morning – see how she comes out of it – but the turf is definitely an option.”
Stopshoppingmaria, a 2-year-old daughter of More Than Ready , enters the Breeders’ Cup off a runner-up finish to My Miss Aurelia in the Oc. 8 Fayette Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. She broke her maiden at second asking in an Aug. 14 maiden special weight by an eye-catching 9 3/4lengths.
Sweet Cat, a 2-year-old daughter of Kitten's Joy , broke her maiden second time out at Saratoga as well and ran second to Somali Lemonade in the Oct. 13 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland last time out. She was purchased by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, a new ownership group, after her maiden win.
“She’s been on a steady progression, really,” said Aaron Wellman, the partnership president. “Obviously there’s a little concern coming out of the Jessamine because it was such a taxing surface that day, you never know how they’re going to bounce out of it with just 22 days to the Breeders’ Cup. But she seems like she’s handled it well and her energy was really, really good in this breeze.”
Ian Tapp contributed to this story.