Week of October 10, 2011
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
Breeders’ Cup races started to take shape as Keeneland kicked off its fall meet with six Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on Fall Star Weekend. And as we mentioned earlier in the week, several talented horses who spent most, or all, of the year on the shelf made a return to the races.
The Breeders’ Cup Mile is shaping up to a great race as reigning turf champ Gio Ponti got his groove back, running down a game Get Stormy and Sidney’s Candy to take the Shadwell Mile. Add Turallure, Courageous Cat and Goldikova, who’s seeking her forth straight BC Mile win, to the mix and there’s a lot to look forward to. Gio Ponti will return to New York to prep while Get Stormy, who’s not definite for the Breeders’ Cup, will remain at Keeneland.
Never Retreat won her fifth graded race in the one mile Grade 1 First Lady, giving her connections their first Grade 1 win, but she won’t be going to the Breeders’ Cup as the distance for the Filly & Mare Turf doesn’t suit her. Second place European filly Forever might make an appearance in next week’s Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland. T.J. Comerford, who was traveling for trainer Aiden O’Brien said, “She ran very well yesterday and we hope she runs better next week”, there’s something you don’t hear every day! At Belmont Park another European invader, Western Aristocrat, took a bit of luster off of Brilliant Speed, turning him back in the Grade 1 Jamaica. Western Aristocrat has been transferred to the Steve Asmussen barn and there no definitive plans for his next start. No word on what’s next for Brilliant Speed.
Thoroughbred Club of America upset winner Holiday for Kitten is now eligible for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint but might go the Turf Sprint against males instead. Amazombie took advantage of an outrageously fast pace to score his first Grade 1 in the Ancient Title at Santa Anita. The Factor, who engaged in a speed duel to produce the fast pace, faded to fourth. Both look likely for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Much of the weekend’s action was centered on juveniles. Union Rags moved to the head of the class with an outstanding performance in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park. He handled a troubled trip with ease, winning by over five lengths and is on way to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. As a study in contrast, My Miss Aurelia had everything her own way in the Grade 1 Frizette but was still impressive. She was part of Corey Nakatani’s six of seven wins and Steve Asmussen’s four for four wins at Belmont Park on Saturday. Dullahan, half brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, broke his maiden in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. Majestic City, who came in second, will be heading back to California to train for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, the race Dullahan will point to as reported by Randy Moss on the Versus Keeneland broadcast. Stephanie’s Kitten, who set a track record in Friday’s Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes, gave trainer Wayne Catalano is his first stakes win at Keeneland. She’ll stay at Keeneland to prepare for the Breeders’ Juvenile Fillies Turf.
On Sunday the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes for juveniles on the turf took a terrifying turn when front-running Here Comes Frazier shied at the whip and tried to jump the fence, dumping, jockey Julien Leparoux. Miraculously the mishap didn’t devolve into a multiple horse pile up and both rider and horse walked away on their accord. Leparoux rode in the next race and Here Come Frazier will undergo a full examination. You can follow Julien Leparoux on Twitter (he posted that he’s sore, but OK) and we’ll let you know as information about Here Come Frazier become available. Maiden Animal Spirits, who was traveling in the middle of track, came on to overtake Coalport at the wire. In the Grade 1 Spinster Aruna made an easy transition from turf to synthetics with an electric turn of foot. Trainer Graham Motion indicated that they might consider the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic on dirt given that Havre de Grace is pointing to the Classic and Blind Luck is out for the year. Motion won this year’s Breeders’ Cup with Animal Kingdom making his first dirt start over the Churchill Downs main track.
Earlier in the week we alerted you to the return of champion Awesome Feather, who was victorious after spending the entire year on the bench. On Saturday Tapizar emerged victorious over Uptowncharlybrown and Boys in Tosconova in their returns to the races. No definitely plans have been set for any of the three comebackers.
Next weekend features the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland for 3-year-old fillies and several Grade 1 turf races at Woodbine on Sunday. We have a Ten Things for the featured Canadian International and will publish a new Ten Things for the QE II later in the week. Next weekend is also the inaugural Champions Day at Ascot in England, we’ll take a look at that on Raceday 360.
NBC Sports scheduled coverage of Keeneland:
Sat Oct 15: Queen Elizabeth II & Keeneland Anniversary Stakes – 5-6pm ET – NBC
Keep with all the racing commentary and news at Raceday 360 Wire!
*Warning: there is a breakdown in this race.
Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!