The road to what looks like a Breeders’ Cup Classic there for the taking begins in earnest Saturday at Del Mar, when ACCELERATE starts as the 8-5 favorite against seven rivals on Saturday in the $1 million “Win and You’re In” TVG Pacific Classic (GI). The Pacific Classic, run at 1 ¼ miles, will offer the fifth of seven automatic starting berths into the November 3 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs and headlines a stakes-loaded card at Del Mar, which also features the “Win and You’re In” Del Mar Handicap Presented by the Japan Racing Association (GII), which will offer an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
Hronis Racing’s Accelerate (Joel Rosario, post 5) rates at the leader of the handicap division off wins in the Santa Anita Handicap (GI) in March and Gold Cup at Santa Anita (GI) May 26 Video for trainer John Sadler, and will look to kickstart a big second-half campaign when he returns off a brief freshening in the Pacific Classic. The 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky was third in last year’s renewal before disappointing at 7-2 when ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Del Mar, though he has won 3-for-5 over the local surface. Accelerate is 7-for-19 lifetime but still needs to prove he can see out 1 ¼ miles, as he tired late in last year’s Classic in his only start at the distance.
Paul Reddam’s PAVEL (Mario Gutierrez, post 7, 7-2), already secured a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic when he won Churchill Downs’ “Win and You’re In” Stephen Foster (GI) June 16 for trainer Doug O’Neill, though no one in that race would come close to the talent level of Accelerate. The 4-year-old son of Creative Cause has handled an extremely busy and ambitious schedule over the past year with aplomb and seems to be moving forward after a quartet of consecutive fourth-place finishes, including the Dubai World Cup (GI) at Meydan in March. Pavel is 3-for-10 lifetime, though he’ll need to improve after running fourth behind Accelerate in both the San Pasqual (GII) at Santa Anita in February and Gold Cup.
Trainer Bob Baffert, who has won the Pacific Classic five times, including last year with Collected, will start the 5-year-old DR. DORR (Joe Talamo, post 2, 6-1), who won the Californian Stakes (G2), was second in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) and was most recently second in the 1 1/16-mile San Diego Handicap on July 21 (G2) over the track. Of international intrigue is 4-year-old ROMAN ROSSO (ARG) (Flavian Prat, post 4, 5-1), who will be making his U.S. debut since winning three straight Group 1 races in South America, including the 1 ¼-mile Gran Premio Latinamericano (G1) on turf in Uruguay for trainer Jorge Mayansky Neer. PRIME ATTRACTION (Kent Desormeaux, post 3, 8-1), was third in the Eddie Read Stakes (G2) on Turf and Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren’s 5-year-old THE LIEUTENANT (Drayden Van Dyke, post 1, 6-1), second in the Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park.
Among the longshots, Levy Racing’s BEACH VIEW (Rafael Bejarano, post 6, 15-1) owns potentially the best chance of an upset, as he rates as the lone stakes winner at the meet, having won the 1 ½-mile Cougar II (GIII) July 25 for trainer Leonard Powell. The Richard-Baltas-trained 4-year-old TWO THIRTY FIVE (Franklin Ceballos, post 8, 20-1), fourth in the San Diego, completes the field.
The Pacific Classic winner will join Nonkono Yume (JPN), who won the February Stakes (GI) in February at Tokyo Racecourse, Foster winner Pavel, Good Magic, who won the Haskell (GI) in July at Monmouth Park and Diversify, who won Saratoga’s Whitney (GI) August 4 as “Win and You’re In” qualifiers for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The September 29 Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) at Belmont Park, and Awesome Again (GI) at Santa Anita, round out the automatic bids for the Classic.
Del Mar Handicap to Offer Turf Bid on Classic Undercard
The “Win and You’re In” Del Mar Handicap Presented by the Japan Racing Association headlines the Pacific Classic undercard and will award an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Run at 1 3/8 miles, the Del Mar Handicap will likely have a sizable field, with Red Baron’s Barn’s ITSINTHEPOST (FR) expected to go favored in an effort to better his second-place finish in last year’s renewal.
Itsinthepost has been a stalwart in the California turf ranks for the past two seasons for trainer Jeff Mullins, as he’s won seven Grade II stakes. The a 6-year-old son of American Post (GB) rarely fires a dud but will enter off a ninth-place finish in the local Eddie Read (GII) July 22, though the 1 1/8 miles was far short of his best distance. Itsinthepost is 10-for-36 lifetime, though those looking to beat him will point to his 0-for-10 record over the local Jimmy Durante turf course.
Head of Plains Partners’ KENJISTORM was second to Itsinthepost in Santa Anita’s Charlie Whittingham (GII) May 26 and rates as the main danger in his return for trainer Phil D’Amato. The 6-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic is 5-for-31 lifetime and has found his best form this year and could be in line for a big second half of the season. ASHLEYLUVSSUGAR, CAMINO DEL PARAISO, CASHMAN (FR), FASHION BUSINESS (GB), MULTIPLIER, UNAPOLOGETIC, WHOOP WHOOP (NZ) and YA GOTTA WANNA are also pointing to the Del Mar Handicap Presented by the Japan Racing Association.
Alabama Kicks Off Big Stretch at Saratoga
The non-stop summer stakes action continues Saturday at Saratoga in Upstate New York, when the $600,000 Alabama (GI) will be run at the classic distance of 1 ¼ miles for 3-year-old fillies. A short field is expected, due in large part to the presence of Bloom Racing Stable, Madakat Stable and Allen Racing’s MIDNIGHT BISOU, who figures to be an odds-on proposition for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Midnight Bisou, a daughter of 2007 and 2008 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute, has won 4-of-6 starts this year, with her only two defeats coming at the hands of divisional leader Monomoy Girl, when third in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) at Churchill Downs and second in the Coaching Club American Oaks (GI) over the local surface July 22. In between she won Santa Anita’s Santa Ysabel (GIII) in March and Santa Anita Oaks (GI) in April for trainer Bill Spawr and Belmont Park’s Mother Goose (GII) in June, in what was her first start for Asmussen. Midnight Bisou is 4-for-8 lifetime, though she is winless in two tries past 1 1/16 miles.
Team Valor International, Stephen McKay and trainer Randolphe Brisset’s TALK VEUVE TO ME looks like the main danger after stretching out to two turns for the first time and running off to a 4 ¾-length win in the Indiana Oaks (GIII) at Indiana Grand July 14. The daughter of Violence was second to Monomoy Girl in Belmont Acorn (GI) in June and is 2-for-4 lifetime. AUSPICIOUS BABE, COACH ROCKS, ESKIMO KISSES, FIGARELLA’S QUEEN and SHE’S A JULIE are also pointing to the Alabama.
The Alabama is the perfect momentum builder for what is one of racing’s biggest days, the August 25 Travers Day card, which is highlighted by the Mid-Summer Derby for 3-year-olds, but also includes four “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup qualifiers on a day when no fewer than six grade I stakes and seven graded stakes overall are run. The 1 ¼-mile Travers is expected to include reigning Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and 2-year-old champion GOOD MAGIC, who already secured a berth into this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic when he won Monmouth Park’s “Win and You’re In” Haskell Invitational (GI) July 29. Competition abounds however, as Preakness runner-up BRAVAZO, grade I turf winner CATHOLIC BOY, Belmont runner-up GRONKOWSKI, local Jim Dandy (GII) winner TENFOLD and the star filly WONDER GADOT, who has beaten males twice in Canada, are also expected.
The Travers clearly anchors the card, but the quartet of grade I Challenge races hardly take a backseat and will certainly prove a springboard to Churchill Downs later this fall. The “Win and You’re In” Sword Dancer, which will award an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf serves as the co-feature, while the Personal Ensign (Longines Distaff), Ballerina (Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint) and Forego (Las Vegas Dirt Mile) support the card and are expected to draw fields brimming with Breeders’ Cup potential.
NEWS AND NOTES
Army Mule Returns to Training with Breeders’ Cup in Mind
St. Elias Stable’s ARMY MULE, who is undefeated in three starts and was last seen winning Aqueduct’s Carter (GI) by 6 ¼ lengths April 7, returned to trainer Todd Pletcher Saratoga barn after a brief freshening and will point to either the Breeders’ Cup Sprint or Dirt Mile later this fall at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old son of Friesan Fire is 3-for-3 lifetime and has yet to be tested in any of his starts. Army Mule broke his maiden on debut at Belmont Park by 8 ½ lengths in April 2017 and retuned at Gulfstream Park and won an optional-claimer by 7 ½ lengths in January before the Carter. Pletcher indicated he’ll talk with St. Elias owner Vinnie Viola before plotting a path to Louisville.
“I need to talk to Mr. Viola a little more about it specifically,” Pletcher said. “We do have the Breeders’ Cup in mind, but we’re not sure which race yet. Ideally, we’ll get one start in between now and the Breeders’ Cup.”
COUNTOWN TO THE BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
A listing of the upcoming major stakes races this weekend:
BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC
August 18 – $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (GI) at Del Mar. Run at 1 ¼ miles for 3yos & up.
LONGINES BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF
August 18 – $600,000 Alabama (GI) at Saratoga. Run at 1 ¼ miles for 3yo fillies.
August 18 – $100,000 Monmouth Oaks (GIII) at Monmouth Park. Run at 1 1/16 miles for 3yo fillies.
BREEDERS’ CUP MILE
August 19 – $175,000 Play the King (GII) at Woodbine. Run at seven furlongs on the turf for 3yos & up.
August 19 – $200,000 Del Mar Mile (GII) at Del Mar. Run at 1-mile on the turf for 3yos & up.
LONGINES BREEDERS’ CUP TURF
August 18 – $250,000 Del Mar Handicap (GII) at Del Mar. Run at 1 3/8 miles on the turf for 3yos & up.
August 19 – $175,000 Sky Classic (GII) at Woodbine. Run at 1 3/8 miles on the turf for 3yos & up.
BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY & MARE TURF
August 18 – $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (GI) at Del Mar. Run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for 3yo fillies.
August 18 – $300,000 Lake Placid (GII) at Saratoga. Run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for 3yo fillies.
August 19 – $298,673 Darley Prix Jean Romanet (GI) at Deauville. Run at 1 ¼ miles on the turf for fillies & mares.
BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE TURF
August 20 – $418,142 Darley Prix Morny (GI) at Deauville. Run at six furlongs on the turf for 2yos.
MAJOR STAKES RECAP – AUGUST 11-12
A review of the major global races in the corresponding Breeders’ Cup divisions from last week. Winning jockeys’ names are in parenthesis in each recap. The top Breeders’ Cup Points’ leaders and Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners by division are listed at the end of each section. Breeders’ Cup Point earners are limited to horses who finish first, second or third in Graded Stakes races. Horses based outside of the U.S., and Canada who have not won a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, are selected into World Championships races by the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel at the Pre-Entry stage, Oct. 22. Juvenile standings will begin in September. An asterisk in the points section denotes a foreign contender. A complete Breeders’ Cup Points list is available at: https://members.breederscup.com/championships/pointsleaderboard.aspx
Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup Mile – The Niarchos Family’s homebred ALPHA CENTAURI (IRE) (Colm O’Donoghue) earned an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) with a dominant win over males in the “Win and You’re In” Deauville’s $1.194 million Prix du Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques le Marois (GI). Jessica Harrington trained the winner, a 3-year-old daughter of Mastercraftsman (IRE) who has risen to the top of Europe’s miler ranks off four straight group I wins. Alpha Centauri kicked off her streak in the Irish 1,000 Guineas at The Curragh in May, doubled up in the Coronation at Royal Ascot in June and then annexed the Falmouth at Newmarket July 13. She’s now 6-for-9 lifetime and could look to add to the Niarchos Family’s record six Breeders’ Cup Mile wins later this fall at Churchill Downs. “The Breeders’ Cup Mile is a race we would love to win again, but we’ll give her time and see how she comes out of this,” racing manager Alan Cooper said. Alpha Centauri’s third dam is the great Miesque, who won back-to-back editions of the Mile in 1987-1988 for the same connections.
Video: Prix Jacques le Marois
Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup Mile – Barry Schwartz’s homebred VOODOO SONG (Jose Lezcano) continued his love affair of the Saratoga turf with a wire-to-wire neck win over DELTA PRINCE in the $513,750 Fourstardave (GI). The 4-year-old New York-bred son of 2007 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner English Channel made it 5-for-5 over the local course with a game win that was by far the biggest of his career. Voodoo Song, who won the local Saranac (GIII) as a 3-year-old and entered off a win in Belmont Park’s Forbidden Apple July 14, is now 8-for-16 lifetime and will be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, with potential stops in between in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (GI) September 15 and/or Shadwell Turf Mile (GI) at Keeneland October 6. Both are “Win and You’re In” races for the Mile. WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and Head of Plains Partners’ heavily favored YOSHIDA (JPN) didn’t fire in a disappointing fifth-place finish after running a close fifth in the Queen Anne (GI) at Royal Ascot June 19 for trainer Bill Mott.
Breeders’ Cup Mile – Breeders’ Cup Challenge Winners (BCC) and Points Leaders
Countdown to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf – Convento Viejo’s ROBERT BRUCE (CHI) (Irad Ortiz) earned an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf with a half-length win over his Chad Brown-trained stablemate ALMANAAR (GB) in Arlington Park’s “Win and You’re In” Arlington Million (GI). The 4-year-old son of Fast Company (IRE) made amends for his lone career loss, a sixth-place finish in Belmont Park’s Manhattan (GI) June 9. Robert Bruce was a superstar in his native Chile in 2017 for then-trainer Patricio Baeza Alamos, winning a quartet of Group I’s, before being sent to Brown for a 2018 campaign. He’s now 8-for-9 lifetime and will stretch out to 1 ½ miles for his next start, which will come in Belmont’s “Win and You’re In” Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (GI), also an automatic qualifier for the Turf, which is the year-end goal for Robert Bruce. Amerman Racing Stable’s OSCAR PERFORMANCE, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2016 at Santa Anita for trainer Brian Lynch, was last-of-9 as the 9-5 favorite, but apparently came out of the race unscathed.
Video: Arlington Million
Countdown to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf – Donegal Racing’s CARRICK (John Velazquez) wore down heavily favored ANALYZE IT by a neck to post a 38-1 shocker in Arlington Park’s $400,000 Secretariat (GI). Tom Morley trained the winner, a 3-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway who has come a long way since winning his debut for a $40,000 tag at Belmont Park in May. Carrick, who is now 3-for-4 lifetime, with his lone loss coming when third in Delaware Park’s Kent (GIII) July 14, could run next in Belmont’s Hill Prince (GII) October 6. Bill Lawrence’s Analyze It came up painstakingly close once again, as he lost his third straight by either a neck or a head for trainer Chad Brown. The 3-year-old son of Point of Entry won his first three career starts with ease but was second to divisional leader Catholic Boy in Belmont’s Pennine Ride (GII) and Belmont Derby (GI). He too will likely resurface in the Hill Prince.
Video: Secretariat Stakes
Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf – Breeders’ Cup Challenge Winners (BCC) and Points Leaders
Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf – Peter Brant’s SISTERCHALIE (IRE) (John Velazquez) held off her Chad Brown-trained stablemate FOURSTAR CROOK to post a half-length win and earn an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in Arlington Park’s $600,000 “Win and You’re In” Beverly D. (GI). The 4-year-old daughter of Myboycharlie (IRE) rates as the divisional leader as she now has three Grade I wins this year, including the Jenny Wiley at Keeneland in April and Diana at Saratoga July 21. Sistercharlie was 3-for-5 in Europe for trainer Nenri-Alex Pantall before being sent to Brown last spring and running second in the Belmont Oaks (GI). She’s now 6-for-10 lifetime and figures to run next in Belmont’s October 7 Flower Bowl (GI), which is also a “Win and You’re In” for the Filly & Mare Turf. Fourstar Crook, who beat Sistercharlie in Belmont’s New York (GII) June 8, is also pointing to the Flower Bowl.Video: Beverly D.
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf – Breeders’ Cup Challenge Winners and Points Leaders
Countdown to the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile– OXO Equine’s INSTAGRAND (Drayden Van Dyke) stakes his claim as the best 2-year-old in training with a 10 ¼-length win in Del Mar’s $200,000 Best Pal (GII). Jerry Hollendorfer trained the winner, a son of Into Mischief who broke his maiden on debut at Los Alamitos Race Course by 10 length June 29 and has already gone a long way in repaying his $1.2 million purchase price as a 2-year-old in training at the Fasig-Tipton March sale. Instagrand will put his undefeated mark on the line next in the local Del Mar Futurity (GI) September 3.
Video: Best Pal
Countdown to the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable, David Simon and Bruce Irom’s CALL PAUL (Irad Ortiz) pulled clear late for a 1-length win over TIGHT TEN in the $180,000 Saratoga Special (GII). The 2-year-old son of Friesan Fire invaded off an easy win on debut July 5 at Delaware Park for trainer Jason Servis and made it 2-for-2 with his wire-to-wire win. Call Paul will be pointed to Belmont Park’s October 7 “Win and You’re In” Champagne (GI), which is an automatic qualifier for the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Video: Saratoga Special
Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – FORTUNE FARM’S homebred SUE’S FORTUNE (Junior Alvarado) held off a late rally from VIRGINIA ELOISE to post a half-length win in Saratoga’s $200,000 Adirondack (GII). Jeremiah Englehart trained the winner, a 2-year-old daughter of Jump Start who entered off a debut win over New York breds July 5 at Belmont Park. She’ll likely put her undefeated mark on the line and see Virginia Eloise again in the local Spinaway (GI), to be run September 1.
Video: The Adirondack
Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint – Hronis Racing’s YUVETSI (Tyler Baze) outdueled ANONYMITY for a half-length win in Del Mar’s $98,000 Rancho Berando (GIII). The 4-year-old daughter of Bodemeister won her first career stakes for trainer John Sadler and relished the cutback to one-turn after running a distant fourth to divisional leader in the local July 29 “Win and You’re In” Clement L. Hirsch (GI), which was an automatic qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Yuvetsi is now 4-for-13 lifetime.
Video: Rancho Bernardo Stakes
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint – Breeders’ Cup Challenge (BCC) Winners and Points Leaders
Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf – Phoenix Thoroughbred’s ADVERTISE (GB) (Frankie Dettori) rose to the top of the European 2-year-old ranks with a half-length win over SO PERFECT in The Curragh’s $298,673 Keeneland Phoenix (GI). Martyn Meade trained the winner, a son of Showcasing (GB) who entered off a win in the July (GII) at Newmarket July 12 and moved to 3-for-4 lifetime. Advertise won on debut at Newbury in May and figures to run next in Newmarket’s Darley Dewhurst (GI) October 13.
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 races (13 Grade 1 events) with purses and awards totaling more than $30 million, will be held November 2-3 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.