BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- ARROGATE (B. Baffert)
- GUN RUNNER (S. Asmussen)
- COLLECTED (B. Baffert)
- WEST COAST (B. Baffert)
- KEEN ICE (T. Pletcher)
- MUBTAAHIJ (B. Baffert)
- DIVERSIFY (R. Violette, Jr.)
- PAVEL (D. O’Neill)
THE LATEST – Defending BC Classic winner Arrogate lost for the second straight time when upset by stable mate Collected in the $1 million Pacific Classic-G1 Aug. 19, but performed much closer to his old self when going down by a half-length in a race that was legitimately fast and highly-rated. The previous month, the world’s number one rated horse (at that time) was beaten more than 15 lengths in San Diego H.-G2. Though trainer Bob Baffert refuses to use it as an excuse, there are those – jockey Mike Smith among them – who believe that Arrogate simply doesn’t act over the deep Del Mar strip. Arrogate worked five furlongs in company with the allowance horse Univited in 1:13 2/5 (galloped out a mile in 1:39 4/5) Oct. 15 at Santa Anita (see workout).
Gun Runner was superb in a 5 ¼ romp in the Whitney S.-G1 at Saratoga Aug. 5, over Keen Ice and then turned in an even a better performance speed figure-wise when crushing an outclassed field in the Woodward S.-G1 over that same course and distance Sept. 2. The Classic will be his first start at Del Mar (some like it, some don’t) and 10 furlongs certainly is stretching his limit, though he did finish second to Arrogate at the BC Classic’s distance in the Dubai World Cup-G1. The Steve Asmussen-trained colt worked five furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:00 2/5 Oct. 15 under regular jockey Florent Gereux (see workout)
Collected recorded a six furlong workout of 1:14 flat at Santa Anita Oct. 14. Undefeated in seven starts over a fast dirt track, the 4-year-old colt does his best running on the lead and parlayed a pristine trip to his Pacific Classic victory. Most likely he’ll face a lot more heat in the BC Classic, especially if Jockey Club Gold Cup-G1 winner Diversify is in the field.
Now a winner of five straight, including the Travers S.-G1 and most recently the Pennsylvania Derby-G2, West Coast is yet another legitimate BC Classic contender from the Baffert barn. The son of Flatter has displayed the versatility to win from far back or as the pacesetter, has earned legitimate speed figures, and clearly stands atop the 3-year-old division. Despite having not participated in any of the Triple Crown races (neither did Arrogate last year). West Coast seems highly likely to be awarded the Eclipse Award in the 3-year-old male division. He worked six furlongs in company with Cat Burglar in 1:12 flat at Santa Anita Oct. 15 (see workout), and will be ridden in the BC Classic by Javier Castellano, as regular pilot Mike Smith is committed to Arrogate.
Keen Ice finished a very respectable second in the 10F Jockey Club Gold Cup-G1 at Belmont Park Oct. 7 behind loose-on-the-lead Diversify. He has more than a puncher’s chance at Del Mar, especially if there’s a legitimate pace and he handles the deep Del Mar surface.
The Baffert-trained Mubtaahij earned his way in after scoring in the moderately-rated Awesome Again S.-G1 in his first start with blinkers at Santa Anita Sept. 30. Winless since the 2015 UAE Derby-G1 but a commendable runner up to California Chrome in the 2016 Dubai World Cup-G1, the son of Dubawi has a right to at least get a small piece of the big purse.
Diversify now has won seven of 10 lifetime starts following his gate-to-wire victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup –G1. His number was legitimate but was accomplished under ideal conditions; he’s certain to face considerably more heat from Collected (and vice-versa) in the Classic.
In what was just his fourth career start, Pavel ran extremely well to be third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup-G1, and can be expected to participate on Breeders’ Cup day. Almost certainly it will be in the Classic, though we’d love to see him in the BC Dirt Mile, which won’t be as contentious and will be run at a distance more to his liking.
BREEDERS’ CUP TURF (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- HIGHLAND REEL (A. O’Brien)
- ULYSSES (M. Stoute)
- BEACH PATROL (C. Brown)
- OSCAR PERFORMANCE (B. Lynch)
- FANCIFUL ANGEL (C. Brown)
- SADLER’S JOY (T. Albertrani)
- IT’SINTHEPOST (J. Mullins)
- HUNT (P. D’Amato)
THE LATEST – The 2016 BC Turf winner Highland Reel remains on course to defend his title despite having been withdrawn from the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe -G1 Oct. 1 at Chantilly due to soft ground. Earlier this year the son of Galileo won back-to-back Group 1s in England before failing to land a blow in his most recent outing over unsuitable ground in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. -G1. It’s certainly possible he’ll run two weeks prior to the Breeders’ Cup on Champions Day Oct. 21 at Ascot.
Ulysses, a respectable fourth to Highland Reel in the BC Turf last year and an excellent third to the brilliant filly Enable in the 2017 Arc, also is headed to California and provides the Europeans with the second of at least two powerful contenders. He’s also a possible starter in the Champions Stakes at Ascot this upcoming Saturday.
This year’s American contingent isn’t very impressive, though Beach Patrol clearly has moved to the head of the class following victories in the Arlington Million – G1 and then most recently the 12F Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park Sept. 30. The son of Lemon Drop Kid breezed four furlongs in 50 3/5 over the Belmont Park inner turf course Oct. 15 in company with Fanciful Angel (see workout).
Oscar Performance breezed four furlongs in 49 3/5 over the Keeneland turf course Oct. 15. The son of Kitten’s Joy acquitted himself well when third in the Hirsch despite a less-than-ideal trip over a sticky course than he may not have preferred. He was touched out of second place in that race by Fanciful Angel, whose European form was nothing to write home about but has predictably improved since joining the Chad Brown barn. Prior to his runner-up effort in the Hirsch, the Irish-bred had finished a close second to Beach Patrol in the Arlington Million -G1.
Sadler’s Joy was never a serious factor in the Hirsch but could improve over firmer ground at Del Mar. He breezed four furlongs in 49 3/5 over the Belmont Park main track Oct. 16
The French-bred but California-based Itsinthepost, an unlucky runner-up in the Del Mar Handicap -G2, parlayed a good trip to victory in the John Henry S. -G2 at Santa Anita Oct. 1 in a race in which Hunt, a two-time Grade 2 stakes winner at Del Mar in the summer, wound up seventh of eight while racing wide without cover much of the way.
Despite what would be a quick turnaround, 42-1 upset Canadian International-G1 winner Bullards Alley now is under consideration for the BC Turf, according to trainer Tim Glyshaw. Over softy ground that he obviously enjoyed, the son of Flower Alley won the race by nearly 11 lengths while being assigned a 114 Beyer speed figure,18 points better than he was able to achieve in 34 previous career races.
BREEDERS’ CUP MILE (TURF) (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- RIBCHESTER (R. Fahey)
- WORLD APPROVAL (M. Casse)
- DECORATED KNIGHT (R. Charleton)
- ZELZAL (J-C Roguet)
- SUEDOIS (D. O’Meara)
- HEART TO HEART (B Lynch)
- HOME OF THE BRAVE (H. Palmer)
- BLACKJACKCAT (M. Glatt)
THE LATEST – This is another race in which the Europeans – with so many legitimate candidates – have an enormous edge both in numbers and in talent, depending, of course, who and how many actually make the journey to California. Ribchester may have been inconvenienced by soft ground when narrowly beaten in the Sussex S.-G1 at Goodwood but returned the following month to exceptional form with a victory Sept. 10 at Chantilly in the Prix Moulin-G1. Present plans call for a run in the Queen Elizabeth II S.-G1 on Champions Day at Ascot Oct. 21 followed by the BC Mile two weeks later, though a trip to Japan for the Mile Championship at Kyoto Nov. 18 also is being contemplated in lieu of a Breeders’ Cup appearance.
World Approval was visually quite pleasing in capturing the Fourstardave S.-G1 at Saratoga in mid-August and then performed at least as well if not better when recording a thoroughly convincing victory in the Woodbine Mile-G1 Sept. 16. The gelded son of Northern Afleet has risen to the top spot among North American-based turf milers, having won four of five starts in 2017, and clearly is most effective at the BC Mile’s distance. He breezed five furlongs in 1:00 flat over the Churchill Downs main track Oct. 13.
Decorated Knight, winner of the 10F Irish Champion S.-G1 Sept. 9 with a powerful late kick, most likely will finish out the year at Del Mar in the BC Mile-G1, according to trainer Roger Charleton. The firm ground specialist also a possibility for the BC Turf.
Zelzal, a lightly-raced son of Sea the Stars, had what may prove to be an excellent Breeders’ Cup prep in the Prix de la Foret-G1 on Arc day Oct. 1 at Chantilly over ground that was softer than he prefers. The 4-year-old colt from the yard of J-C Roguet loomed a strong threat close home but couldn’t quite follow through, winding up sixth but beaten less than two lengths. He’s a top-of-the-ground specialist but hasn’t won since a course-record setting victory in the 2016 Prix Jean Prat-G1 at Chantilly.
Suedois earned his way in with a legitimate victory in the Shadwell Turf Mile-G1 at Keeneland Oct. 7. The veteran gelding had been a sprinter throughout much of his 32-race career in Europe but at age six has never been in better form, having won the 8F Boomerang S.-G2 at Leopardstown in his previous start.
Heart to Heart was collared in deep stretch in the Shadwell by Suedois, going down by a half-length after enjoying his typical front-running trip. In his previous start he went gate-to-wire in the Bernard Baruch H.-G2 at Saratoga in early September. While he doesn’t necessarily need the lead to win, the six-year-old son of English Channel certainly is most dangerous when he does.
Home of the Brave is headed to Del Mar, according to trainer Hugo Palmer. A two-time group stakes winner in England this year, the son of Starspangledbanner is a speed type that is unproven at a mile, but his connections believe he has a chance to be dangerous if he can make the lead over a firm ground around tight turns. Most recently, Home of the Brave finished third in the Park S.-G2 over seven furlongs on dead ground at Doncaster in mid-September.
Blackjackcat was for much of his career nothing more than a nice allowance horse but currently is working on a four race winning streak that includes the Del Mar Mile H.-G2 in August over the same course and distance of the BC Turf Mile. Most recently the son of Tale of the Cat won the listed 8F Obviously S. at Santa Anita Oct. 7 while facing an outclassed field.
Annals of Time, an overnight winner at Belmont Park in his 2017 debut, is headed west and will be entered in the BC Mile. The Chad Brown-trained colt defeated Beach Patrol in the Hollywood Derby-G1 (at Del Mar) in his final 2016 race before going to the sidelines. Also expected to enter is the Richard Mandella-trained Bal A Bali, a member of the win-and-you’re-in club after capturing the Shoemaker Mile-G1 at Santa Anita last spring. Bal a Bali was unplaced in the Del Mar Mile H.-G2 August and then was off the work tab for more than a month.
BREEDERS’ CUP DIRT MILE (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- ACCELERATE (J. Sadler)
- SHARP AZTECA (J. Navarro)
- CUPID (B. Baffert)
- MIDNIGHT STORM (P. D’Amato)
- BATTLE OF MIDWAY (J. Hollendorfer)
- MOR SPIRIT (B. Baffert)
- PRACTICAL JOKE (C. Brown)
- GIANT EXPECTATIONS (P. Eurton)
THE LATEST – Accelerate, freshened since finishing a highly respectable third in mid-August 10F Pacific Classic-G1 over a trip that proved to be out of his range, will enjoy a home court advantage at Del Mar. He’s much more effective at a middle distance and can adapt to any pace scenario. The son of Lookin At Lucky worked six furlongs in 1:14 flat at Santa Anita Oct. 14 (see workout).
Sharp Azteca outclassed his foes with a thoroughly convincing front-running victory in the 8F Kelso H.-G2 at Belmont Park Sept. 23, leaving a couple of former BC Dirt Mile contenders who are no longer under consideration, Divining Rod and Tommy Macho, in the dust. The Jorge Navarro-trained colt previously captured the Monmouth Cup-G3 July 30 by more than seven lengths and should be no worse than second choice and perhaps even favored on Breeders’ Cup day. The son of Freud worked six furlongs in 1:12 4/5 at Monmouth Park Oct. 14.
Cupid had been listed in the BC Classic division, but after finishing fourth as the heavy favorite despite a perfect trip in the 9F Awesome Again S. -G1, trainer Bob Baffert says that if the son of Tapit runs anywhere on Breeders’ Cup day, it will be in this softer spot. Cupid had won the listed Harry Brubaker Stakes over the BC Mile’s course and distance in his previous outing.
Midnight Storm returned to good form when second in the Awesome Again S.-G1 over nine furlongs Sept. 30. When he’s at his best, the son of Pioneerof the Nile seems most effective at a flat mile. He’ll be cross entered in BC Mile and the BC Dirt Mile. He worked four furlongs in 48 4/5 at Santa Anita Oct. 15.
Battle of Midway, third in this year’s Kentucky Derby, added blinkers, got the patient ride he prefers, and won the listed Shared Belief S. over the same track and distance of the BC Dirt Mile in late August with a career top speed figure. However, he was simply second best to Untrapped in the subsequent Oklahoma Derby-G3 at Remington Park Sept. 24 at a mile and one-eighth and will appreciate the turn back to a mile. The son of Smart Strike worked four furlongs in 1:00 flat at Santa Anita Oct. 12 in company with Ike Walker (see workout).
Mor Spirit hasn’t made an afternoon appearance since his superior victory in the Met Mile-G1 in early June, but his most recent workout – a six furlong gate drill in 1:12 4/5 under some pressure at Santa Anita Oct. 7 – shows that he’s reasonably fit. A notoriously lazy worker, the son of Eskendereya has won six of 13 lifetime starts, and has been successful in both one-turn and two-turn races. He was second best in a team six furlong gate workout with BC Sprint contender Drefong when timed in 1:12 4/5 (see workout).
Practical Joke breezed five furlongs in 1:00 flat Oct. 14 in company with Twisted Tom (see workout) and would likely be one of the favorites in this race if the Breeders’ Cup were being held at, say, Belmont Park or Churchill Downs. The Chad Brown-trained 3-year-old is a perfect five-for-five around one turn but is zero-for-five around two turns, and at Del Mar, of course, the race will be a two-turn event. The BC Sprint is also under some consideration and it’s possible the son of Into Mischief will be cross-entered in that race. A few other logical contenders are in the same boat as Practical Joke, as Giant Expectations (who won the win-and-you’re-in Pat O’Brien S.-G1 over seven furlongs at Del Mar Aug. 26), Awesome Slew, American Anthem, and Seymoudini all have proven to be more much effective around one turn.
BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- DREFONG (B. Baffert)
- ROY H (P. Miller)
- MIND YOUR BISCUITS (C. Summers)
- IMPERIAL HINT (L. Carvajal, Jr.)
- TAKAFUL (K. McLaughlin)
- EL DEAL (J. Navarro)
- RANSOM THE MOON (P. D’Amato)
- WHITMORE (R. Moquett)
THE LATEST – Defending BC Sprint champion Drefong obliterated his competition in the Forego S. -G1 at Saratoga, earning a career top speed figure in the process to regain leadership in the sprint division. He’s being trained up to the BC Sprint, just as he was last year with a virtually identical gap in between starts after he had won the King’s Bishop S.-G1 at the Spa. The son of Gio Ponti worked six furlongs at Santa Anita Oct. 16 in 1:12 1/5 from the gate (see workout) while much the best over BC Mile candidate Mor Spirit.
Roy H returned to winning form in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, scoring by a length from the lightly regarded state-bred Mr. Hinx in a race in which the main contenders (Giant Expectations, Ransom the Moon) simply failed to fire. While the son of More Than Ready won with something in hand, it must be noted that the inaccurate official final time (1:08.68) was actually four to five lengths faster than it should have been. Previously, the 5-year-old gelding managed to finish third in the Bing Crosby despite being badly impeded by the rider-less Drefong in what has been his only defeat in five starts this year.
Mind Your Biscuits, after a string of superb performances both at home and in Dubai, ran considerably below his best form when unplaced in the Forego. The Chad Summers trained son of Posse breezed a half mile in 1:00 1/5 seconds at Belmont Park Oct. 14 (see workout).
Imperial Hint crushed three outclassed rivals by more than six lengths under wraps in the listed LeVine Memorial Stakes at Parx on Labor Day, missing the track record by four one-hundredths of a second. The son of Imperialism had his most recent workout Oct. 13 at Parx, breezing five furlongs in 58 2/5 seconds.
Takaful produced a career top performance when winning the Vosburgh S.-G1 at Belmont Park Sept. 30 from heavily favored El Deal. All three of his previous victories had been accomplished on the lead, but in taking the Vosburgh from a stalking position the son of Bernardini exhibited a degree of versatility that enhances his chances in the BC Sprint.
Ransom the Moon had reinvented himself as a sprinter since joining the Phil D’Amato barn, winning the spill-marred Bing Crosby S.-G1 in late July. However, in his BC Sprint prep in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship-G1 Oct. 6, the son of Malibu Moon was always outrun, winding up a non-threatening fourth, beaten more than five lengths. His connections are hoping that the return to Del Mar will make a big difference.
Whitmore may have been the best sprinter in North America during the winter but then was a disappointing third in both the True North S.-G3 and the Frank de Francis Memorial S.-G2 as a short price favorite. The late-running Pleasantly Perfect gelding returned to winning form with a desperate nose victory in the Phoenix S. –G2 at Keeneland Oct. 6 to earn a trip to California.
BREEDERS’ CUP TURF SPRINT (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- LADY AURELIA (W. Ward)
- MARSHA (M. Prescott)
- DISCO PARTNER (C. Clement)
- PURE SENSATION (C. Clement)
- HOGY (M. Maker)
- MONGOLIAN SATURDAY (E. Ganbat)
- BUCCHERRO (T. Glyshaw)
- HOLDING GOLD (M. Casse)
THE LATEST – This year’s BC Turf Sprint will be run at five furlongs, and that – coupled with Del Mar’s short run in from the top of the lane to the wire – means deep closing turf sprinters may be at a disadvantage. The course can accommodate 14 starters but this race won’t likely draw that many. At this shortened trip Lady Aurelia has a considerable edge; she’s quick enough to make the lead but is quite comfortable in a stalk-and-pounce role should the situation dictate. She lost little in defeat when nosed out by Marsha in the Nunthorpe S. -G1 at York in late August over ground that might have been a bit stickier than she prefers. Most recently the Wesley Ward-trained filly breezed five furlongs on turf at Keeneland Oct. 12 in 1:01 4/5.
Marsha, runner-up in the Prix de l’Abbaye -G1 at Chantilly on Arc day, will be sold in the December Sales, but is Breeders’ Cup-bound before that. A rematch between Lady Aurelia and Marsha will be truly exciting.
Disco Partner re-established his standing as the premiere turf sprinter in the East with an authoritative victory in the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational Oct. 7, his fourth win from five 2017 outings. His connections have since stated their intentions to supplement the son of Disco Rico to the BC Turf Sprint, thus providing trainer Christophe Clement will a powerful one-two punch.
Pure Sensation, the other half the Clement team, returned to winning form with a sharp score in the Monster Turf S.-G3 at Parx on Labor Day. Third in last year’s BC Turf Sprint, the veteran six-year-old probably is most effective at this shorter five furlong trip. He worked four furlongs in 47 flat at Belmont Park Oct. 14 (see workout).
Trainer Michael Maker’s $80,000 claim Hogy paid quick dividends with a game victory in the $400,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint-G3 and then was a bit unlucky when second after a slow start and a wide trip to long shot (26-1) Buccherro in the Woodford S.-G2 at Keeneland Oct. 7.
Mongolian Saturday, the BC Turf Sprint winner in 2015, seems likely to participate following his third place effort in the Woodford.
BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- STELLAR WIND (J. Sadler)
- FOREVER UNBRIDLED (D. Stewart)
- ABEL TASMAN (B. Baffert)
- ELATE (W. Mott)
- PARADISE WOODS (R. Mandella)
- IT TIZ WELL (J. Hollendorfer)
- CHAMPAGNE ROOM (P. Eurton)
- ROMANTIC VISION (G. Arnold III)
THE LATEST – Stellar Wind firmly occupies the top spot in this division; she’s better at age five than she’s ever been and is 3-for-3 this year, all in Grade 1’s, in 2017. The John Sadler-trained filly worked six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 at Santa Anita Oct. 14 in company with That’s a Lady (see workout).
Forever Unbridled is a small step behind at number two and that’s only due to the home court advantage Stellar Wind will enjoy at Del Mar. The winner of the Personal Ensign S.-G1 over Songbird at Saratoga in late August, the daughter of Unbridled’s Song breezed six furlongs in 1:14 1/5 at Churchill Downs Oct. 10.
Abel Tasman made a premature move in the Cotillion S.-G1 at Parx Sept. 23 and was understandably worn down late by It Tiz Well, losing little despite her second place finish. In her previous start, the Baffert-trained filly was a smart winner of the Mother Goose S.-G2 over Elate in a race that in retrospect looks even stronger than initially given credit for. Abel Tasman worked five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 at Santa Anita Oct. 15 in company with Zipman (see workout).
Since her narrow defeat in the Mother Goose, Elate has registered a dominant victory in the Alabama S.-G1 and then, in her first start vs. older fillies and mares, made a mockery of the Beldame S.-G1 at Belmont Park Sept. 30, winning by more than eight lengths despite traffic trouble to the head of the lane. She’s a legitimate contender for an Eclipse Award in the 3-year-old filly division.
Paradise Woods enjoyed a very soft front-running trip in capturing the Zenyatta S.-G1 Sept. 30 at Santa Anita from just three rivals. It was good to see the daughter of Union Rags regain her winning form, but we really didn’t learn anything about her that we didn’t already know. The BC Distaff will be a far more testing affair. She worked five furlongs in 1:01 at Santa Anita Oct. 13.
The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Champagne Room was visually quite impressive when easily handling her outclassed foes the 8.5F Remington Park Oaks Sept. 24 in her first outing since early February. She’s developed into bigger and stronger filly as a 3-year-old than we anticipated and hits the BC Filly & Mare Distaff fresh and dangerous. She worked four furlongs in 47 flat at Santa Anita Oct. 13 (see workout).
Romantic Vision splashed her way into the BC Distaff with a victory in the win-and-you’re-in Spinster S.-G1 over a very wet Keeneland main track Oct. 8. Clearly, her chances increase if it rains at Del Mar on the first weekend in November. Rain is not expected.
BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY & MARE SPRINT (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- UNIQUE BELLA (J. Hollendorfer)
- SKYE DIAMONDS (W. Spawr)
- BY THE MOON (M. Nevin)
- PAULASSILVERLINING (C. Brown)
- HIGHWAY STAR (R. Ubillo)
- AMI’S MESA (J. Carroll)
- FINEST CITY (I. Kruljac)
- CURLIN’S APPROVAL (H. Alter)
THE LATEST – Unique Bella broke in a scramble but then settled nicely just behind the leaders to the turn, accelerated wide when ready to take control into the lane and drew clear without much fuss to register a 3 ½ length victory in the L. A. Woman S. –G3 Oct. 8 at Santa Anita in her first outing since a hairline shin fracture sent her to the sidelines in March. Second in her debut in June of her two-year-old season but unbeaten in five starts since (four of which were in graded stakes), the daughter of Tapit had what most would consider to be a perfect (non-taxing) comeback win and seems certain to be the favorite in BC Filly & Mare Sprint.
Skye Diamonds has matured into the best female sprinter in the West not named Unique Bella and is undefeated in two starts at Del Mar. After another thoroughly commendable victory in the Rancho Bernardo S.-G2 in August, the former claimer will train up to the race and worked a slow five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 over the Santa Anita training track Oct. 13 (see workout).
By the Moon has quietly won three of her last four, including the Ballerina S.-G1 at Saratoga Aug. 26. She’s as genuine and consistent as they come but, like Skye Diamonds, has never earned a triple-digit Beyer number despite having 19 career starts. She breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 over the Belmont Park training track Oct. 11.
Paulassilverlining had won four straight stakes races including back-to-back Grade-1’s after finishing third in the ’16 Filly & Mare Sprint, but she was well below form when winding up fifth in the Ballerina S.-G1 in an effort that is best ignored. In that race she broke sharply but was strangely guzzled back off a crawling early pace, got behind horses, got mad, and failed to fire. The interior fractions of that race – remember, this was a Grade-1 sprint – were 24.05 and 47.81. Originally ticketed for the Gallant Bloom H.-G2 at Belmont Park Sept. 24, she bypassed that race and will enter the BC Filly & Mare Sprint fresh and breezed five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 at Belmont Park Oct. 14 (see workout) while in company with Your Love.
Highway Star captured the Gallant Bloom H.-G2 at Belmont Park Sept. 23 in workmanlike fashion. Not particularly fast on speed figures but always genuine and consistent, the daughter of Girolamo can be equally dangerous sprinting or at a middle distance. She breezed four furlongs in 49 4/5 over the Belmont Park training track Oct. 12 (see workout).
Ami’s Mesa has won six of nine, including her last four, and on Sept. 18 scored her biggest victory in the 6.5F Masters S.-G2 at Presque Isle Downs, breaking the track record in the process. She is fast on speed figures but has yet to race over conventional dirt. The daughter of Sky Mesa breezed five furlongs over the dirt Woodbine training track in 1:00 1/5 Oct. 13.
Defending champion Finest City has yet to regain her 2016 form but boasts a strong, health workout pattern, most recently being credited with a six furlong drill in 1:12 flat Oct. 15 at Santa Anita. She will be sold at auction in November.
Curtin’s Approval got a confidence building win at Gulfstream Park in the listed Barely Even Handicap Oct. 1, winning by nearly five lengths at 40 cents on the dollar. She breezed four furlongs at Gulfstream Park in 48 1/5 Oct. 10. The Happy Alter-trained filly edges out Finley’sluckycharm (winner of the moderately-rated 6F TCA S.-G1 at Keeneland Oc. 7) for the final spot in our rankings due primarily because she appears the more effective of the two at the race’s seven furlong distance.
BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY & MARE TURF (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- LADY ELI (C. Brown)
- RHODODENDREN (A. O’Brien)
- HYDRANGEA (A. O’Brien)
- ROLY POLY (A. O’Brien)
- USHERETTE (A. Fabre)
- DACITA (C. Brown)
- GRANDE JETE (C. Brown)
- AVENGE (R. Mandella)
THE LATEST – Lady Eli has the style to suit the tight turf course at Del Mar, where the short stretch requires handiness and instant acceleration. In her victory in the Ballston Spa-G2 at Saratoga Aug. 26, the remarkable daughter of Divine Park did just that. She is being trained up to the race and breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 over the Belmont Park inner turf course Oct. 15 in company with Elysea’s World (see workout).
Rhododendron, Hydrangea, and Roly Poly are three top-class European-based fillies from Aidan O’Brien’s yard, and all at various stages have been mentioned as possibilities for this race. Rhododendron and Hydrangea finished one-two in the Prix de l’Opera S.-G1 on Arc day at Chantilly Oct. 1; previous to that race Hydrangea took the win-and-you’re in Matron S.-G1 at Leopardstown when beating her multiple classic winning stable mate Winter. Roly Poly, an American-bred daughter of War Front, returned to exceptional form with a superb victory in the 8F Sun Chariot S.-G1 at Newmarket Oct. 7. Yet another European that could be under consideration is the Andre Fabre-trained Usherette, a troubled fourth behind Roly Poly in the Sun Chariot.
Dacita earned her way in with a victory in the Beverly D. S.-G1 at Arlington Park Aug. 12 and then was a courageous second in the Flower Bowl S.-G1 at Belmont Park Oct. 8, finishing strongly but a tad too late. She will be making her final start in this race and then be sold at the Fasig-Tipton sale Nov. 6. Stable mate Grand Jete, a dead-heat second in the Beverly D, encountered extreme traffic in that race and should have won. Then, in the Flower Bowl, she found herself inexplicably on the lead and was overrun late to wind up third, beaten a length.
Avenge got back in the picture with a front-running victory in the 10F Rodeo Drive S.-G1 at Santa Anita Sept. 30. She was an excellent third in the 2016 BC Filly & Mare Turf and by all rights should be more effective at this year’s distance (nine furlongs) than last year’s mile and one-quarter trip. She worked five furlongs in 59 3/5 at Santa Anita Oct. 13.
War Flag deserves a mention after her 9-1 upset in the Flower Bowl S.-G1. A lightly-raced daughter of War Front, she was a Group-3 winner in France as a 3-year-old and has an explosive turn of foot when held up and allowed to produce one run.
BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- BOLT D’ORO (M. Ruis)
- SOLOMINI (B. Baffert)
- FREE DROP BILLY (D. Romans)
- GOOD MAGIC (C. Brown)
- FIRENZE FIRE (J. Servis)
- THE TABULATOR (L. Rivelli)
- HOLLYWOOD STAR (D. Romans)
- GIVEMEAMINIT (D. Stewart)
THE LATEST – Bolt d’Oro is unbeaten in three starts, breaking his maiden sprinting, winning the 7F Del Mar Futurity-G1 impressively, and then performing like a potential superstar in his first try around two turns in the FrontRunner S.-G1 at Santa Anita Sept. 30. In that 8.5 furlong event, the son of Medaglia d’Oro switched off nicely when stalking the pace, took control when ready heading for home and drew off in powerful fashion to register a nearly eight length victory. The arbitrarily lowered assigned Beyer speed figure (100, but in actuality 113) hardly does him justice. At this time nobody else in this division is even close. The Mick Ruis owned/trained colt worked four furlongs in 48 4/5 at Santa Anita Oct. 15 (see workout).
Solomini, in just his second career start, finished a highly promising though distant second to Bolt d’Oro in the FrontRunner. He’s an excellent prospect by Curlin and should get nothing but better with experience and distance for trainer Bob Baffert. He worked four furlongs in 47 4/5 at Santa Anita Oct. 10 in company with Hoppertunity (see workout).
Free Drop Willy narrowly missed in the Hopeful S.-G1 behind Sporting Chance (out for the year with a knee chip) and then franked the form in his first try around two-turns when capturing the Breeders’ Futurity-G1 at Keeneland by four widening lengths, not surprising since his pedigree suggests he should be much more effective routing than sprinting.
Firenze Fire was an 11-1 winner of the one-turn mile Champagne S.–G1 at Belmont Park Oct. 7, his third success from four career starts. A son of the young sprinting sire Poseidon’s Warrior, the Jason Servis trained colt has yet to be tried around two turns and it’s questionable that he’ll improve when he does.
The runner-up in the Champagne, Good Magic, remains a maiden after two starts but as a son of Curlin in the Chad Brown barn he’s expected to develop nicely with distance and maturity. At this stage we like him the best of the New York-based contingent.
BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE FILLIES (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- MOONSHINE MEMORIES (S. Callaghan)
- SEPARATIONOFPOWERS (C. Brown)
- HEAVENLY LOVE (M. Casse)
- CALEDONIA ROAD (R. Nicks)
- ALLURING STAR (B. Baffert)
- PIEDI BIANCHI (D. O’Neill)
- LADY IVANKA (R. Rodriguez)
- WONDER GADOT (M. Casse)
THE LATEST – Moonshine Memories is unbeaten in three starts and has a nearly identical pattern as Bolt d’Oro, though certainly she’s not as fast or as dominant as he is. The daughter of Into Mischief returned off short rest following her impressive debut maiden win to take the Del Mar Debutante-G1 over seven furlongs in smart fashion and then, in her first try around two turns, dominated her rivals by nearly three lengths in the Chandelier S.-G1 at Santa Anita Sept. 30. She worked five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 at Santa Anita Oct. 16.
Separationofpowers captured the 8F Frizette S.-G1 at Belmont Park by 3 ½ lengths and did so with a legitimate 86 Beyer speed figure. In her previous start, the daughter of Candy Ride got stuck inside in a speed duel in the 7F Spinaway-G1 and paid the price, weakening to wind up a tired third. Clearly she wants to be held up and allowed to run on late and a successful stretch out to two-turns should be well within her capabilities.
Heavenly Love capitalized on a perfect pace-stalking trip to win the Alcibiades S.-G1 by more than five lengths with a decent speed figure. After finishing a troubled third in her debut over 5F at Gulfstream Park, she graduated at Kentucky Downs by more than five lengths sprinting on turf in September and clearly is progressing rapidly with experience and distance.
Caledonia Road was more than eight lengths clear of the others when runner-up to Separationofpowers in the Frizette in what was just her second career start. The daughter of Quality Road had won her debut sprinting over a sloppy track in September in fairly impressive fashion and clearly is a progressive type that deserves a chance in the BC Juvenile Fillies.
Alluring Star made the running and held on bravely to be second in the Chandelier in just her second career start after breaking her maiden sprinting at Del Mar in smart fashion. The daughter of Exchange Rate could be BC Juveniles Fillies bound; however, based strictly on pedigree we think she might be a better candidate for the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf (though as far as we know the latter race is under no consideration).
Piedi Bianchi closed with interest to be a respectable third in the Chandelier behind Moonshine Memories and Alluring Star, beaten three lengths. She’ll always benefit from a fast pace to compliment her late-running style. She worked four furlongs in 49 2/5 at Santa Anita Oct. 13 (see workout).
Lady Ivanka benefitted from a perfect-trip to win the Spinaway S.-G1 at Saratoga but didn’t earn much of a number and will need to improve considerably, which, of course, she very well might. She breezed five furlongs in 1:00 flat at Aqueduct Oct. 7.
Wonder Gadot, a six length winner of the Mazarine S.-G3 over the all-weather surface at Woodbine Oct. 7, will try conventional dirt for the first time in the BC Juvenile Fillies and has been shipped to Churchill Downs, where she will be trained up to the race.
BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE TURF (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- ROARING LION (J. Gosden)
- U S NAVY FLAG (A. O’Brien)
- JAMES GARFIELD (G. Scott)
- SIOUX NATION (A. O’Brien)
- UNTAMED DOMAIN (G. Motion)
- CATHOLIC BOY (J. Thomas)
- HEMP HEMP AWAY (W. Ward)
- ENCUMBERED(S. Callaghan)
THE LATEST – Roaring Lion is undefeated in three starts, including the “win and you’re in” Royal Lodge S. -G2 Sept. 30 at Newmarket. A Kentucky-bred son of Kitten’s Joy, the John Gosden-trained colt has a strong California female family and would love the firm surface he’s sure to encounter at Del Mar. Gosden says Roaring Lion will be his only Breeders’ Cup start if he comes; the other option for the colt is the Racing Post Trophy-G1 at Doncaster Oct. 28. It’s also possible that Roaring Lion will be put away for the year. Latest reports indicate that Roaring Lion most likely will remain at home, but we’ll keep him on the list until official confirmation is received.
U S Navy Flag, a full-brother BC Filly & Mare Turf contender Roly Poly, is a dual Group-1 winner and became a strong possibility for the race following his impressive victory in the 7F Dewhurst S.-G1 at Newmarket Oct. 15, according to trainer Aidan O’Brien. A winner of four of 10 starts during a busy juvenile campaign, the son of War Front won the Middle Park S.-G1 in his previous start.
James Garfield scored handsomely in the Mill Reef S.-G2 at Newbury Sept. 23, and while that race came over six furlongs the colt’s connections believe he’ll get a mile over the firm ground and tight course he’ll encounter at Del Mar. On pure form he’s a major player, for sure.
Sioux Nation, an American-bred colt and considered a firm ground specialist, finished a close sixth with a troubled trip in the Middle Park S.-G1 at Newmarket Sept. 30 over dead ground behind U S Navy Flag. Prior to that race the son of War Front won the Phoenix S.-G1 at The Curragh. O’Brien could bring any number of colts for this race, and as of last report ‘Nation remains under consideration.
The U. S. based prospects in this division are light in number and as of now we haven’t seen any potential superstars. The field in the 8F Summer Stakes-G2 at Woodbine Sept. 17 finished in a heap and the Beyer number that was assigned to winner Untamed Domain (75) wasn’t very inspiring. The good news is that ‘Domain is a son of Animal Kingdom and therefore bred to improve with distance and maturity, and he did overcome a bit of a slow start to produce a steady late bid to get up in time. It was a “win and you’re in” race so he’s certain to come. He breezed five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 at Fair Hill Oct. 14.
Catholic Boy is undefeated in a pair of two-turn starts, having won a nice 7.5F maiden event on turf at Gulfstream Park in July and then springing a 12-1 upset in the 8.5F With Anticipation S.-G3 at Saratoga the following month. He breezed five furlongs in 1:01 flat at Bridlewood Farm Oct. 7.
Previously top-ranked Hemp Hemp Away (Artie Schiller) had every chance in the Summer S. but was worn down late and may not have seen out the trip. He breezed a very slow five furlongs in 1:05 3/5 on turf at Keeneland Oct. 15.
Encumbered was out of his element when unplaced in the FrontRunner S.-G1 on dirt but his victory in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf at Del Mar in early September warrants his inclusion on this list. The form of that race received a boost when runner-up My Boy Jack, who also had finished second to Encumbered in a maiden race the previous month, won the listed Zuma Beach S, at Santa Anita Oct. 9.
Snapper Sinclair is progressing properly and deserves a mention, having won a 6F maiden turf sprint at Saratoga and then stretching out to seven furlongs to win a restricted stakes at Kentucky Downs. The son of City Zip worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 Oct. 15 at Santa Anita.
A key BC Juvenile Turf prep Sept. 30 at Belmont Park, the Pilgrim S.-G3, was thoroughly uninspiring. The winner was a maiden, Seabhac, in a race that earned a modest 75 Beyer speed figure. Recent debut maiden winners Voting Control and Maraud were second and third, respectively, but none of the runners that finished in the frame appear to be Grade-1 type performers at this stage.
BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE FILLIES TURF (updated Oct. 17, 2017)
- HAPPILY (A. O’Brien)
- CLEMMIE (A. O’Brien)
- RUSHING FALL (C. Brown)
- SIGNIFICANT FORM (T. Pletcher)
- BEST PERFORMANCE (C. Clement)
- ORBOLUTION (T. Pletcher)
- TAKE ME WITH YOU (J. Noseda)
- CAPLA TEMPTRESS (W. Mott)
THE LATEST – Happily defeated colts on Arc day at Chantilly when winning the Grand Criterium -G1, her fourth victory from six career starts, and may be headed to Del Mar, where she’d most likely face her own sex in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, according to trainer Aidan O’Brien, who has several other candidates and likely won’t make a final decision for at least another week.
The O’Brien-trained multiple group stakes-winning Clemmie is a daughter of Galileo and has captured three of five this year, most recently the Cheveley Park S.-G1 at Newmarket over six furlongs on Sept. 30. Her connections believe that firm ground and added distance will only make her stronger. For whatever it’s worth, she has a career top Racing Post rating of 114, whereas the top mark earned by Happily is 112.
Rushing Fall is unbeaten in two starts, an impressive maiden tally at Belmont Park and then the Jessamine S.-G3 at Keeneland. In both races the daughter of More Than Ready displayed an exceptional turn of foot, and at this stage appears the best of the North Americans and a worthy challenger to the powerful European contingent.
Significant Form, disqualified out of an impressive two-turn turf maiden win at Saratoga, had no issues in the Miss Grillo S.-G3 at Belmont Park Oct. 1 and won with authority. The daughter of Creative Cause should handle the firm ground and the tight turns at Del Mar just fine. She worked four furlongs on turf at Belmont Park in 50 1/5 Oct. 15 in company with Rymska (see workout).
Best Performance and Orbolution, two-three finishers in the Miss Grillo, both ran very well, have further improvement in them, and deserve a trip to California.
Take Me With You is another legitimate candidate from overseas. The Jeremy Noseda-trained filly was a smart novice winner at Windsor after being group-stakes placed at Royal Ascot and has had the BC Juvenile Fillies as a year-end goal for quite some time.
Capla Temptress, fresh off the plane following a good third in the Sweet Solera S.-G2 in mid-August, defeated a moderate field with a workmanlike performance in the Natalma S.-G2 at Woodbine Sept. 16. The Beyer number (71) was just okay. She was saddled for that race by her European trainer, Marco Botti, but now resides in the Bill Mott barn. On Oct. 15 she worked five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 over the Belmont Park turf course in company while appearing second best with the maiden Lemoona (see workout).