Jeff Siegel’s Breeders’ Cup Elite 8 Rankings: Updated October 23, 2016




2 – ARROGATE (B. Baffert)

3 – FROSTED (K. McLaughlin)

4 – HOPPERTUNITY (B. Baffert)

5 – MELATONIN (D. Hofmans)

6 – SHAMAN GHOST (J. Jerkens)

7 – EFFINEX (J. Jerkens)

8 – NYQUIST (D. O’Neill)



California Chrome extended his perfect 2016 record to six with arguably his most impressive performance yet in winning the Awesome Again S.-G1 in gate-to-wire style Oct. 1 at Santa Anita.  The margin of victory – 2 ¼ lengths – hardly provides a true indication of his dominance over runner-up Dortmund in what shaped up as a match race from start to finish.  After cutting out hot early fractions dictated by his inside draw and the early pressure that was provided by his main rival, the world’s top-rated horse drew clear when ready into the lane and then was geared down to a stroll in the final furlong while still achieving a legitimate 112 Beyer speed figure.  The Breeders’ Cup Classic, and a collision with the sensational 3-year-old Arrogate, is next.

Arrogate will be making his first start in more than two months in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  A seven furlong workout in 1:24 2/5 at Santa Anita Oct. 18 indicates trainer Bob Baffert has the 3-year-old just about where he needs to be.  The track-record setting victory by the lightly-raced colt in the Travers S.-G1 – and the 122 Beyer speed figure that he earned – makes him the main contender to California Chrome. The strong, powerful son of Unbridled’s Song has made only five career starts and it’s scary to contemplate how much more improvement he may have in him.

Frosted didn’t get the best of runs when winding up a disappointing third (beaten a neck) at 40 cents on the dollar in the 9F Woodward S.-G1 at Saratoga Sept. 3, but based on Beyer figures (106), he ran pretty close to his usual two-turn number.  That’s not good enough to worry California Chrome or Arrogate.  The spectacular 123 he was assigned when winning the 8F Metropolitan H-G1 by more than 14 lengths at Belmont Park in June provides evidence that he’s most effective up to eight furlongs, but the decision has been made to enter the Classic rather than the BC (Dirt) Mile.


Hoppertunity was sent on a hit-and-run invasion of Belmont Park Oct. 8 and came away with a not-too-surprising victory of a below standard edition of the Jockey Club Gold Cup-G1.  In a prospective BC Classic field that suddenly seems to have lost most of its depth, the son of Any Given Saturday rises to number three on our rankings, though he’s clearly far removed from the two top-rated runners.


Melatonin, away since winning the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in June, was felled by an illness soon after and missed the summer.  He worked a mile in 1:41 1/5 at Santa Anita Oct. 22. Shaman Ghost, last year’s Queen’s Plate winner, added Lasix for the first time and won a four-horse photo in the Woodward while earning a career top 106 Beyer speed figure.  He’ll train up to the BC Classic and breezed seven furlongs in 1:28 3/5 at Belmont Park Oct. 20.  Effinex returned to good form when second to Hoppertunity in the JCGC but had every chance with a perfect trip and couldn’t seal the deal in the final sixteenth.   Nyquist, currently on a three-race losing streak after winning the Kentucky Derby-G1 as an undefeated colt, is scheduled to retire following his appearance in the BC Classic.  Based on his disappointing off-the-board effort in the Pennsylvania Derby, the son of Uncle Mo seems far removed from his winter/spring form.




1 – FOUND (A. O’Brien)

2 – HIGHLAND REEL (A. O’Brien)

3 – FLINTSHIRE-GB (C. Brown)

4 – ECTOT (T. Pletcher)


6 – DA BIG HOSS (M. Maker)


8 – ERUPT (F. H. Graffard)





Found, the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf-G1 champion, showed she’s at least as good now when winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe-G1 Oct. 2 at Chantilly.  Two weeks later she returned in the Champions S.-G1 at Ascot and lost little when second to European champion Alamanzor.  Tough, durable, and especially effective over firm ground, the daughter of Galileo followed a similar pattern last year, and if she’s given the opportunity to defend her title, she’ll be the one to beat.  However, her connections are seriously contemplating an entry in the Classic, which would be her first career start on dirt, and since the stable already has Highland Reel in the Turf, it would hardly be surprising if she winds up in the richer race vs. California Chrome.


Highland Reel, a strong runner-up to her Aidan O’Brien-trained stablemate Found in the Arc, earlier had stamped his ticket when capturing the win-and-you’re-in King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S.-G1 at Ascot July 2.  Like Found, he’s a firm ground specialist that should be ideally suited for conditions in California.


Flintshire found ground that had too much give to it due to overnight rains and floundered home a well-beaten second to the inferior Ectot in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic-G1 at Belmont Park Oct. 1, his first defeat from four outings in 2016.  Over a firm grass surface we suspect he remains head-and-shoulders above all other North American-based runners in this division.  He’ll have his chance to make amends at Santa Anita.


Ectot raced unchallenged on the lead and proved a dominant winner of the Hirsch Turf Classic while clearly reveling in the good-to-yielding ground that very likely compromised the chances of the main contenders behind him.  He was, however, an outstanding performer in Europe two years ago – he was 6-1 when unplaced in the 2014 Prix de l’Arc to Triomphe – so his return to winning form shouldn’t be taken lightly.


Money Multiplier wound up last of four, beaten more than eight lengths, in the Hirsch Turf Classic over unfavorable ground, and trainer Chad Brown says its best to ignore the run.  The son of Lookin’ At Lucky has been placed in a couple of Grade-1 races this year but always has been several cuts below this level of competition.   Da Big Hoss will remain in North America rather than travel to Australia for the Melbourne Cup-G1. The ex-claimer is a winner of four straight stakes, most recently the Kentucky Turf Cup S.-G3 at Kentucky Downs.  Ashleyluvssugar is the best of the locals, having won both the John Henry Turf Classic-G1 Oct. 1 and before that the Del Mar Handicap-G2 in August.  French invader Erupt played himself into consideration after a 12-1 upset in the Canadian International S.-G1 at Woodbine Oct. 16.




1 – LIMATO (H. Candy)

2 – TEPIN (M. Casse)


4 – IRONICUS (C. McGaughey III)


6 – MISS TEMPLE CITY (G. Motion)

7 – TOURIST (W. Mott)




Limato returned to top form with a thoroughly dominating victory in the 7F Prix de la Foret-G1 on Arc day at Chantilly and the gelding’s next race will come on Breeders’ Cup day in either the Turf Sprint or the Mile.   He would be top rated in our rankings in either race.  He will be pre-enter in both and as of now the Mile is considered the much more likely of the two.

Tepin, the defending BC Mile champion, had her eight-race winning streak snapped when she finished a non-threatening second behind runaway pacesetter Photo Call in the First Lady S.-G1 at Keeneland Oct. 8, the defeat coming on the heels of a tougher-than-expected victory in the $1 Million Woodbine Mile-G1 the previous month.  The loss makes her appear vulnerable, something that won’t be lost on European trainers that are contemplating a trip to California with legitimate contenders.


Alice Springs returned to top form with an exceptional victory in the Matron S.-G1 at Leopardstown Sept. 10 and then came right back to capture the Sun Chariot S.-G1 at Newmarket Oct. 1.   Earlier in the year she produced a scintillating performance when winning the Falmouth S.-G1 at Newmarket July 8 over top of the ground.  She was the runner-up in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf last year.


Ironicus made his first start since an excellent but troubled second to Flintshire in the 10F Manhattan S.-G1 in mid-June with another tough-beat loss, this one to Miss Temple City in the Shadwell Turf Mile S.-G1 at Keeneland Oct. 8.  Given too much to do from the top of the lane to the wire, the son of Distorted Humor finished fastest of all but just ran out of room, falling short by a rapidly-diminishing head.  He should be ready to explode now with a month in between starts.

Midnight Storm has won three straight graded stakes, including the Del Mar Mile H.-G2 Aug 21.  He can run well fresh and is being trained up to the race.  Miss Temple City has won a pair of Grade-1 turn mile events this year at the expense of the boys, though she might not be quite as effective away from Keeneland.   Tourist deserves inclusion after winning the Fourstardave H.-G1 at Saratoga Aug. 20. Mondialiste, runner-up to Tepin in last year’s BC Mile, flashed a return to his best form with a victory in the 10F Arlington Million-G1 Aug 13, but had no visible excuse when out-kicked in the final furlong of the Shadwell Turf Mile, winding up fourth, beaten slightly less than two lengths.



1 – DORTMUND (B. Baffert)

2 – VYJACK (P. D’Amato)

3 – TAMARKUZ (K. McLaughlin)

4 – GUN RUNNER (S. Asmussen)

5 – TOM’S READY (D. Stewart)

6 – RUNHAPPY (L. Wohlers)

7 – ACCELERATE (J. Sadler)

8 – POINT PIPER (J. Hollendorfer)





Dortmund has had just about enough of California Chrome, thank you, and 10 furlongs is clearly not his trip anyway, so the BC Classic is out and the BC Dirt Mile is in.  A winner of five of six career starts over the Santa Anita main track, the Bob Baffert-trained colt gave it everything he had when second to ‘Chrome in the 9F Awesome Again Oct. 1 and has five weeks to get sharpened up for the drop back in distance.

Vyjack, back to his finest form and then some since joining the Phil D’Amato barn, ran arguably the best race of his career when rallying with the help of a suicidal pace to win the City of Hope Mile-G2 on turf Oct. 8.  The plan always was to use that race as a prep for the BC Dirt Mile and we suspect his connections will stick to the plan, though the option to go in the BC Turf Mile is there for consideration.


​​​Tamarkus had been a flop since arriving from Dubai after the spring of 2015 but a strong runner-up effort to A. P. Indian in the 7F Forego S.-G1 and then solid second place effort behind easy pacesetter Anchor Downs in the Kelso H.-G2 gives veteran son of Speightstown every reason to be in the BC Dirt Mile lineup.

Gun Runner, runner-up to Connect in the 9F Pennsylvania Derby, doesn’t appear to be up to BC Classic standards at this stage but his connections are still considering that race along with the Dirt Mile, which would make more sense.  They’ll probably pre-enter in both.

Tom’s Ready has had excellent success in races around one turn, winning the 7F Woody Stephens S.-G2 in June and then most recently beating older horses in the 8F Ack Ack H.-G2 at Churchill Downs Oct. 1.  Whether his deep-closing style can be just as effective in a two-turn event such as the BC Dirt Mile remains to be seen.  Runhappy was 30 cents on the dollar when making his first start since late December in the 8F (one turn) Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs Oct. 1 but last year’s champion sprinter performed far below his best form when fading to fourth, beaten 2 ½ lengths.  The son of Super Saver quite possibly wasn’t fit enough after what appeared to be an accelerated schedule (just five recorded workouts) to make the race.  The connections remained undeterred, saying the BC Dirt Mile remains the goal, but last year’s champion sprinter has never won past seven furlongs and in fact his only prior two-turn attempt resulted in a ninth place finish – beaten more than 21 lengths – in the Le Comte S.-G3 at Fair Grounds as a 3-year-old.Accelerate, a lightly-raced and improving California-based, has won three straight, most recently the Los Alamitos Derby-G2, but is thoroughly unproven against this level of competition.  Point Piper was the winner of the Longacres Mile-G3 with a speed figure that would make him somewhat competitive for a minor award.




1 – LORD NELSON (B. Baffert)

2 – A. P. INDIAN (A. Delacour)

3 – MASOCHISTIC (R. Ellis)

4 – DREFONG (B. Baffert)

5 – JOKING (C. Baker)

6 – DELTA BLUESMAN (J. Navarro)

7 – HOLY BOSS (S. Asmussen)





Lord Nelson had little to worry about in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship-G1 Oct. 8 and went about his business to record a 2 ½ length victory, though doing so with a modest speed figure over four outclassed rivals.  The Bob Baffert-trained colt now has won four straight graded stakes sprints and hasn’t been beaten since finishing third in the Malibu S.-G1 last December behind Runhappy.

A.P. Indian had his final BC prep in the Phoenix S,-G1 at Keeneland Oct. 7, and at 40 cents on the dollar barely got the better of Limousine Liberal, winning by a nose.  His speed figure was below his best but still fairly solid.  The six-year-old son of Indian Charlie is unbeaten in six starts this year and has the versatility to be effective on the lead or from a stalking position.


Masochistic was superb in his 7F Pat O’Brien S.-G2 victory at Del Mar Aug. 27 – he missed the track record by a tick while pretty much under wraps throughout – and his Beyer speed figure of 110 was spectacular.  Trainer Ron Ellis had kept the California-bred gelding sharp in the morning with a series of fast drills, including a six furlong workout in 1:12 3/5 on Oct. 6.

Drefong has won four straight (after being beaten in his debut), including a thoroughly dominating victory in the King’s Bishop-G1.  Though he was allowed to stroll on an easy lead in that race, the son of Gio Ponti has intense early speed when he’s asked to use it.  He’ll be trained up to the race and worked a half mile in 46 4/5 Oct. 8.


Joking, a prototype late-running sprinter, had a minor setback after capturing the True North S.-G2 at Belmont Park in June but returned as well as he left with a deep-closing victory in the Vosburgh S.-G1 over a wet track he obviously handled.  However, his style may not be as effective over the traditional speed-favoring Santa Anita surface.  Delta Bluesman has won four of last six starts, most recently the Hall of Fame S. at Parx in September.  A victory in the win-and-you’re-in Smile Sprint S.-G2 at Gulfstream Park in July pays his way.  Holy Boss hung on as well as could be expected when fourth (beaten just over four lengths) in the Vosburgh, a race dominated by the deep closers.  He remains winless this year but his sharp runner-up effort in the Vanderbilt-G1 at Saratoga in late July makes him a player. Noholdingbackbear was impressive winning the Gallant Bob S.-G3 at Parx Sept. 24 and his connections now will point for the BC Sprint.





1 – A LOT (C. Brown)

2 – OBVIOUSLY (P. D’Amato)

3 – PURE SENSATION (C. Clement)

4 – HOLY LUTE (J. Cassidy)


6 – GREEK MASK (B. Cox)

7 – WASHINGTON DC (A. O’Brien)




While we’ve always believed he’s most effective around one turn, A Lot displayed extreme quality when finishing a strong second to Tourist in the 8F Fourstardave S.-G1 at Saratoga, rallying into the teeth of slow fractions to finish powerfully while missing by just over a length. BC Turf Sprint always has been the plan and deep closing tactics, such as was used by the Chad Brown-trained Bobby’s Kitten two years ago to win the BC Turf Sprint over this course and distance, will likely be employed by again by the Brown-trained son of Tapit.


Obviously cooked himself on the lead with absurdly fast fractions in the City Of Hope Mile-G2 over a mile on turf at Santa Anita and trainer Phil D’Amato may seriously consider shortening up the gelding to this race.  Although he’s rarely been tried sprinting, the Irish-bred eight-year-old has run well down the Hill in the past, though you have to go back more than three years to locate his runner-up effort (when costing himself the win with a slow start) in the San Simeon Stakes-G3.


Pure Sensation extended his winning streak to three with head victory over Power Alert in the 7F Belmont Sprint Turf Championship Oct. 8.  Previously, the Christophe Clement-trained son of Zensational sprung an 18-1 upset in the Jaipur Invitational-G3 in mid-June at Belmont Park and followed that up with a dominating gate-to-wire 2 ¼ length score in the Parx Dash-G3 at July 9.  The gelding may be most effective on the lead but can stalk and pounce if the situation dictates.


Holy Lute won the faster of the two divisions of the Eddie S. S.-G3, the local prep for the BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita Sept. 30.  It was the second straight victory for the veteran son of Midnight Lute, who clearly has regained his best form after returning from a six month vacation.


Ambitious Brew was visually pleasing when winning the other split of the Eddie D., and likely will be given another shot at the BC Turf Sprint.  Seventh, beaten three lengths, in the BC Turf Sprint over this course and distance two years ago, the veteran California-bred gelding can be dangerous on his best day but has never been known to turn in two alike.  Green Mask overcame a stumbling start to finish a strong third in the Belmont Sprint Turf Championship when beaten less than two lengths by Pure Sensational.  He’s a genuine and consistent grass sprinter with the credentials to be competitive on Breeders’ Cup day.  Washington DC is winless since May but finished fastest of all to be second in the 5f Prix de l’Abbaye-G1 on Arc Day at Chantilly and would seem to have the proper style for the Hillside course.   ​Mongolian Saturday is the defending champion and recently returned to form with a victory in the 5.5F Woodford S.-G3 over the Keeneland turf course.




1 – SONGBIRD (J. Hollendorfer)

2 – STELLAR WIND (J. Sadler)

3 – BEHOLDER (R. Mandella)


5 – CURALINA (T. Pletcher)

6 – I’M A CHATTERBOX (L. Jones)

7 – CORONA DEL INCA (G. Frenkel-Santillan)

8 – LAND OVER SEA (D. O’Neill)



Songbird is unbeaten in 11 starts and was never better in her nearly six length score in her 8.5F Cotillion S.-G1 at Parx Sept. 24.  She’ll prepare for her BC appearance at her home base at Santa Anita and seems certain to be favored in her first try vs. older competition.

Stellar Wind edged Beholder fair-and-square in the Clement L. Hirsch S.-G1 in late July and then, in a virtual replay, came back to do it again in the Zenyatta S.-G1 at Santa Anita Oct. 1 while earning  career top 110 Beyer speed figure.  Last year’s champion 3-year-old filly (and runner-up in the 2015 BC Distaff), clearly has matured into a superior four-year-old and on pure numbers represents Songbird’s most difficult challenge to date.


Beholder now has been beaten in three straight, but according to her speed figures she has lost little to none of her speed and ability.  Two narrow defeats to champion Stellar Wind sandwiching a second place performance to California Chrome in the Pacific Classic barely blemishes her resume, and it would be unwise to dismiss her chances in the BC Distaff.

​Forever Unbridled toyed with rivals over an off track when winning the 9F Beldame S.-G1 at Belmont Park.  She still doesn’t quite have the numbers to worry the best in this division but deserves a chance nonetheless.


Curalina, second in the Personal Ensign S.-G1 at Saratoga in late August, certainly ran well enough to continue on the Breeders’ Cup trail.  She will be pre-entered in both the BC Filly & Mare Sprint and the BC Distaff.  ​ I’m A Chatterbox romped home by seven lengths against modes opposition in the Spinster S.-G1 at Keeneland Oct. 9. Corona Del Inca qualified with a win-and-you’re-in victory in her native Argentina and currently is at Santa Anita training for the race.  Land Over Sea hit the board in the Kentucky Oaks-G1 in the spring but has been unplaced in three subsequent outings.



1 – CARINA MIA (W. Mott)

2 – BY THE MOON (M. Nevin)


4 – IRISH JASPER (C. Brown)


6 – WAVELL AVENUE (C. Brown)

7 – GLORYZAPPER (P. D’Amato)

8 – PAOLA QUEEN (G. Delgado)




Carina Mia was no match for Songbird (again) when she wound up a game but tired second in the 8.5 Cotillion S.-G1 at Parx Sept. 24.  Prior to that race she failed as a short-priced favorite when third, beaten 1 ½ lengths, in the Ballerina S.-G1 at Saratoga Aug. 27 in her first start vs. older foes.  However, in a completely wide open division, she occupies the top spot because we believe her best effort is better than the other major contenders.  She’ll have six weeks to rejuvenate herself prior to shortening up to what most likely is her best trip. The daughter of Malibu Moon produced two spectacular one-turn victories earlier in the year, the Eight Belles S.-G2 and the Acorn S.-G1.

By The Moon defeated the defending BC Filly & Mare Sprint champion Wavell Avenue in the Bed O’ Roses Stakes in late June at Belmont Park and then narrowly missed in the Ballerina by a half-length while continuing to legitimize her excellent form.  The daughter of Indian Charlie rarely gets much respect; she’s only been favored in two of 12 career starts.


Haveyougoneaway has been around awhile but has never been better, winning back-to-back graded sprint stakes, including the Ballerina.  This was her first career try at seven furlongs and she appears to have the perfect stalking style for the trip.

Irish Jasper earned a trip to California by virtue of her rail-skimming rally to victory in the TCA S.-G2 at Keeneland Oct. 8.


Paulassilverlining outclassed her rivals in the 6F Gallant Bloom H.-G2 over a muddy track at Belmont Park Oct. 1, but since she’s not Breeders’ Cup nominated, it would cost her connections $100,000 to become eligible.  It’s a decision that trainer Michele Nevin says has yet to be made.  Wavell Avenue, the defending BC Filly & Mare Sprint champion, returned to winning form with a sharp score in the listed 7F Shine Again Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 4 but failed to follow through when unplaced in the Ballerina and then may not have cared for the muddy track when most recently third, beaten just over two lengths, in the Gallant Bloom.  It’s probable she’ll be sent to California to defend her title.  Gloryzapper tossed her hat into the ring when winning the 6.5F L. A. Woman S.-G2 at Santa Anita Oct. 9.  She’s always been a better sprinter than a router and probably will be kept around one turf by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer from here on in.  Paola Queen, winner of the Test S.-G1 at Saratoga but most recently last of seven when stretching out to nine furlongs in the Beldame S.-G1, has trained well since and remains a possibility.




1 – LADY ELI (C. Brown)


3 – PLEASCACH (J. Bolger)

4 – SEA CALISI-FR (C. Brown)

5 – PHOTO CALL (T. Pletcher)

6 – TIME AND MOTION (J. Toner)

7 – AL’S GAL (M. Maker)

8 – AVENGE (R. Mandella)




Lady Eli returned to winning form with a perfect pace-stalking trip in the Flower Bowl S.-G1 at Belmont Park Oct. 8, and looks clearly best of the North American contingent.  She had suffered the first defeat of her career in her previous outing when second when victimized by a poorly-timed ride in the Ballston Spa S.-G2 at Saratoga.  She is scheduled to be sold at auction following the race.


​Seventh Heaven defeated the defending BC Turf champ Found in the win-and-you’re Yorkshire Oaks-G1 Aug. 18 but didn’t get the best of runs when fifth, beaten more than five lengths, to Journey at Ascot.  She’s at her best over a mile and one-half, but the drop back in trip (to 10 furlongs) should hardly be an issue, especially over the firm ground that she prefers.  The daughter of Galileo has won have of her eight career starts, including the Irish Oaks-G1.  She currently is considered “possible” for the trip.


Pleascach, winner of the 2015 Yorkshire Oaks-G1 (with Sea Calisi behind her), turned in a superior performance in her first 2016 outing when second by a short head to Speedy Boarding in the Prix de l’Opera-G1 on Arc day at Chantilly.  Trainer Jim Bolger says a trip to California is possible, and if she does come she’ll be a major player.

Sea Calisi rallied well but too late when third behind her Chad Brown-trained stablemate Lady Eli in the Flower Bowl S.  She’s somewhat pace dependent and would benefit from the quicker fractions that she’s hoping to see in the BC Filly & Mare Turf.   The French-bred four-year-old returned to winning form with an authoritative score in the Beverly D. S.-G1 at Arlington Park August 13; before that she was ultra-impressive winning her U.S. debut in the Sheepshead Bay S.-G2 and then was a much troubled second to stable mate Dacita in the subsequent New York S.-G2.


Photo Call literally stole the 8F First Lady S.-G1 at Keeneland Oct 9, opening a huge lead midway and then proving uncatchable while upsetting Tepin.  She’s been a Grade-1 winner over the BC Filly & Mare Turf’s course and distance in the past, having won the 2015 Rodeo Drive S., and will be pre-entered in both the Filly & Mare Turf and the BC Mile.  The rapidly-developing 3-year-old filly Time and Motion quietly has won five of her last six starts, most recently the QE2 S.-G1 at Keeneland Oct. 15.  She should excel over 10 furlongs over the glib Santa Anita turf course.  ​Al’s Gal will enter the race having won three of her previous five starts, including a nose victory in the E. P. Taylor S.-G1 at Woodbine.  Committed front-runner Avenge is working on a three race winning streak including the Rodeo Drive S.-G1 over the Filly & Mare Turf’s course and distance at Santa Anita.




1 – NOT THIS TIME (D. Romans)

2 – GORMLEY (J. Shirreffs)

3 – SYNDERGAARD (T. Pletcher)



6 – THREE RULES (J. Pinchin)

7 – KLIMT (B. Baffert)

8 – THEORY (T. Pletcher)



Not This Time confirmed the hype that he had received following his runaway Ellis Park maiden win with a nearly nine length romp in the Iroquis S.-G3 over a muddy track at Churchill Downs Sept. 17.  The son of Giants Causeway broke in the air to be off slowly, raced wide throughout, yet came away in the final furlong like a potential super star.  Dale Romans says the colt will train up to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.


Gormley is undefeated in two starts, a visually pleasing sprint victory at Del Mar in early September and then a terrific gate-to-wire, highly-rated score (93 Beyer figure) in the 8.5F FrontRunner S.-G1 at Santa Anita Oct. 1.  The son of Malibu Moon doesn’t strike us as a need-the-lead type but so he hasn’t faced anything yet that has been quick enough to get in front of him.


Syndergaard ran too good to lose when setting wicked fractions under extreme pressure and then given way at the shadow of the wire to be second to deep closing Practical Joke in the 8F Champagne S.-G1, his first defeat in three starts.  The son of Majesticperfection had been highly impressive in two prior wins over New York-bred foes and seems certain to employ his come-and-catch-me tactics in his first try around two turns in the BC Juvenile.


Practical Joke was off poorly in the Champagne S.-G1 and appeared to lose his best chance; however, the extreme race shape put him just where he needed to be in the early stages and the son of Into Mischief rallied late to hang a nose decision on Syndergaard and remain unbeaten in three starts.  Previously, the Chad Brown-trained colt had won a maiden race and the Hopeful S.-G1 sprinting at Saratoga.


Classic Empire, so impressive in his first two starts but wheeling at the start and losing his rider in the Hopeful in his most recent outing, got back on track to take the 8.5F Breeders’ Futurity-G1 with authority Oct. 8 at Keeneland.  The son of Pioneerof the Nile is proven around two turns, and is strong in the speed figure department.  Three Rules is perfect in five starts while facing inferior state-bred rivals at Gulfstream Park and now that he’s run out of competition we may find out how good he really is.  Most recently the son of Gone Astray won the restricted In Reality Stakes by 10 lengths Oct. 1 at Gulfstream Park without being asked for anything close to his best. Klimt, after finishing fourth in his debut, reeled off three straight impressive wins including the 7F Del Mar Futurity-G1.  However, in his first try around two-turns in the FrontRunner, the son of Quality Road failed to land much of a blow (beaten three lengths) when a non-threatening runner-up at 30 cents on the dollar to Gormley.  The son of Quality Road has a handy, stalking style but seems to be more of a grinder than a colt with a good turn of foot.  He’s still on track for a Breeders’ Cup appearance but we were a lot higher on him before the FrontRunner than after.   Theory, undefeated in two starts, was a workmanlike winner of the Futurity S.-G3 at Belmont Park after a highly impressive debut maiden win.



1 – VALADORNA (M. Casse)

2 – SWEET LORETTA (T. Pletcher)

3 – UNION STRIKE (S. Ruis)

4 – YELLOW AGATE (C. Clement)

5 – NOTED AND QUOTED (B. Baffert)

6 – WITH HONORS (K. Desormeaux)


8 – DANCING RAGS (G. Motion)




Valadorna has only a maiden win in two starts to her credit, but her upside tops anything she’ll be facing in the BC Juvenile Fillies.  Thoroughly convincing in a two-turn score at Keeneland, she displayed an extended kick to sweep by her out-classed foes with power despite not being asked for her best.


Sweet Loretta remained unbeaten in three starts when dead-heating with Pretty City Dancer in the Spinaway S.-G1 at Saratoga Sept 3.  Her numbers aren’t fancy but she’s clearly a filly of quality and deserves top billing based on her resume, which includes a previous graded stakes victory in the Schuylerville S.-G2 at the Spa.

Union Strike, a troubled runner-up in her debut when second to American Cleopatra, turned the tables on that rival with a dominating score in the 7F Del Mar Debutante-G1 Sept. 3. Since that race she was transferred to the Craig Dollase barn.  As a daughter of Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags, she certainly should improve as the distances increase.


Yellow Agate was quite impressive breaking her maiden at first asking at Belmont Park in mid-September and then verified that favorable impression by coming right back and winning the Frizette S.-G1 by a head from stubborn pacesetter Libby’s Tale.  There’s no reason she won’t handle two turns and there’s every reason to believe she has plenty of room for further improvement.


​​Noted and Quoted was a tad disappointing when fourth in the Del Mar Debutante but ran back to her previous nine length maiden score when employing a good stalking trip to register a 7-1 upset victory in the 8.5F Chandelier S.-G1 Oct. 1.  We had our doubts that she would handle two turns – she’s a daughter of The Factor from a mare by City Zip – but the Bob Baffert-trained juvenile managed to get the trip in a race that earned an okay, not great, 80 Beyer speed figure.  With Honors, the winner of her first two career starts on turf, switched surfaces to run well while on the lead most of the way when second behind Noted and Quoted in the Chandelier.  We still think she’s better on turf, but this is where she’ll run.  Daddys Lil Darling was victimized by a poor outside post and did as well as she could to rally into second behind Dancing Rags in the Alcibiades S.-G1 at Keeneland Oct. 7.  She actually ran better in defeat than she did when winning the slowly run muddy-track Pocahontas S.-G2 at Churchill Downs in her previous start.  Dancing Rags broke her maiden in a one-turn mile in her second career start at Laurel and then produced a significant forward move in her pace-stalking victory in the Alcibiades.  The daughter of Union Rags will need to improve even further to be effective in California but as a daughter of Union Rags she’s very likely to continue her upward mobility.






3 – BIG SCORE (T. Yakteen)

4 – MADE YOU LOOK (T. Pletcher)

5 – SALOUEN (S. Kirk)

6 – KEEP QUIET (M. Casse)

7 – J. S. CHOICE (T. Pletcher)



Good Samaritan is unbeaten in two starts, the Bill Mott-trained colt having graduated in a two-turn turf Saratoga maiden affair in mid-August before earning a giant (94) Beyer speed figure when capturing the Summer S.-G2 at Woodbine Sept. 18.  The son of Harlan’s Holiday won both races with a powerful late kick.  He’ll now be trained up to the BC Juvenile Turf.


Oscar Performance broke his maiden in his second career start over a distance of ground by more than 10 lengths at Saratoga and then verified the highly-favorable impression he made in that race by coming right back in similar front-running style to win the Pilgrim S.-G3 Oct. 1 by six lengths at Belmont Park.  He’s a son of Kitten’s Joy and could be any kind, though we don’t know yet if can be just as effective without the luxury of being the controlling speed.


Big Score broke his maiden at first asking long on the lawn at Del Mar, was then a sharp runner-up to Bowies Hero in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf, and continued to improve with a strong tally in the 8F Zuma Beach Stakes over the BC Juvenile Turf’s course and distance.  His figures are strong and he’ll have something of a court advantage.


Made You Look won the slowly-run With Anticipation S.-G2 with something in hand and has room for plenty of further improvement.  He’ll be trained up to the race.


Salouen was an eager second in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere-G1 on Arc day at Chantilly and this French-bred juvenile, first or second in eight five or eight starts in good company, supposedly is under strong consideration for the race.   Keep Quiet earned his way in with a decent win over a moderate field in the Dixiana Bourbon S.-G3 at Keeneland.     J. S. Choice was victimized by a lack of pace and despite finishing eagerly was a never a danger to easy front-running winner Oscar Performance in the Pilgrim.  In a race with quicker early splits, such as he’ll like enjoy in California, the son of Congrats could make an impression. Lancaster Bomber, an excellent runner-up in the Dewhurst S.-G1 despite serving as a pace-maker for his more fancied stablemate (and eventual winner) Churchill, is an American-bred son of War Front with plenty of his ability in his own right, and we suspect he’d be highly competitive with this group if allowed to run his own race.​


1 – LA CORONEL (M. Casse)

2 – BRAVE ANNA (A. O’Brien)

3 – ROLY POLY (A. O’Brien)

4 – SPAIN BURG (X. Thomas-Demeaulte)

5 – MISS SOUTHERN MISS (K. Desormeaux)

6 – INTRICATELY (J. O’Brien)

7 – NEW MONEY HONEY (C. Brown)

8 – HAPPY MESA (G. Motion)



La Coronel, after failing to show her best form in two dirt races, switched to turf and has become a monster.  She was the most impressive turf winner among juvenile fillies during the Saratoga meeting and verified that promise with a dominating score in the Jessamine S.-G3 at Keeneland Oct. 12.  The daughter of Colonel John has a superior turn of foot that should pay quite well over the tight, glib Santa Anita turf track.


Brave Anna was an upset winner of the 6F Cheveley Park S.-G1 at Newmarket Sept. 24 in the race that odds-on favorite Lady Aurelia was beaten into third; trainer Aidan O’Brien says the American-bred daughter of War Front wants firm ground and knows she’ll get it at Santa Anita.  She’s won three of six starts including the 6F Albany S.-G1 at Royal Ascot in June.


Roly Poly was beaten a head in the Cheveley Park at a much shorter price (9/2) than Brave Anna (25-1) and could face her O’Brien-trained stablemate again in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf.  She’s another daughter of War Front with preference for firm ground and previously had confirmed her quality with a win in the 6F Cherry Hinton S.-G2 at Newmarket in July.  As of this writing, both fillies are expected to be California-bound.

Spain Burg, once beaten in five starts in England and France, most recently captured the 7F Rockfel S.-G2 at Newmarket in September as a 13-1 outsider and was subsequently sold at auction for approximately $1.6 million by American interests. She’s headed to California.


Miss Southern Miss finally got a chance to do what she’s bred to love (run long on turf) and received the patient ride she desperately in a visually pleasing two and one-half length victory in the listed Surfer Girl S. over identical conditions of the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf Oct 9.  She will be dangerous right back. Intricately, a daughter of Fastnet Rock, qualifies after capturing the win-and-you’re-in Moyglare Stud S.-G1 at The Curragh in Ireland Sept. 11. Trained by Joseph O’Brien, she has won two of four and has placed in two other group stakes races.  New Money Honey, second to La Coronel in her only prior outing, built on that favorable initial impression with a strong victory in the Miss Grillo S.-G3 at Belmont Park Oct. 2.  The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro likely has plenty of further improvement in her.  Happy Mesa was blocked much of the way and then got clear too late when a very good second to Miss Southern Miss in the Surfer Girl.  She had won her first two starts at Laurel, a maiden and then the listed Selima S. before being purchased privately and joining the Graham Motion stable.



Jeff Siegel’s Breeders’ Cup Elite 8 Rankings: Updated October 23, 2016

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