Quality Breeders Cup information starting to show
October 03, 2017 3:00 AM
by Steve Davidowitz
Last Saturday was a very busy day for top quality horses from coast to coast. There were, in fact, more than three dozen stakes, including 15 Graded events, eight of which were Grade-1’s.
Given that so many of Saturday’s stakes featured probable contenders for various Breeders’ Cup races to be run at Del Mar on Nov. 3 and 4, here are my capsule race-reports and Beyer Speed Figures for Saturday’s top performers – including a few who did not win.
At Belmont Park
6 furlong, G-1 Vosburgh Invitational: The 3-year-old Takaful stalked the pace and defeated heavily favored 5-year-old El Deal in 1:09.69 – to earn a solid 107 Beyer Figure. Both horses now figure among the favorites in a potentially deep field for the $1.5 million BCup Sprint.
1-1/2 mile, G-1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic: Beach Patrol repeated his recent (narrow) win in the Arlington Million over Fanciful Angel. In this race, Beach Patrol scored by 5-lengths to earn a 109 Beyer, best of the day from coast to coast. Yet, trainer Chad Brown just might start both horses in the $4 million BCup Turf at this 12 furlong distance.
1-1/8 mile, G-1 Beldame for Fillies and Mares: Heavily favored Elate, a 3-year-old trained by Billy Mott, easily caught 4-year-old Bombshell to earn a moderate 97 Figure and possibly advance to the $2 million Distaff on the main track; or to the $2 million BCup Filly and Mare Turf. Given that Elate also won the Alabama stakes in her previous start on the Saratoga main track – and that high quality Lady Eli could prove a formidable foe in the BCup F and M Turf – Elate seems more likely to run in the Distaff.
At Santa Anita Park
1-1/16 mile, G-1 Zenyatta for Fillies and Mares: The Dick Mandella trained Paradise Woods scored by 5-1/4 lengths after a series of strong workouts to earn a solid 105 Beyer. That Figure stands as the best earned this year by any filly on any surface anywhere in America. With that, Mandella is likely to choose the 1-1/8 mile Distaff for Paradise Wood’s next target.
1-1/16 mile, G-1 Frontrunner for 2-year-olds: The Mick Ruis trained Bolt d’Oro was an eye-catching winner by more than 7-lengths over Bob Baffert’s Solomini to earn a 100 Beyer Figure – best by any 2-year-old this year. While Solomini did run gamely to hold on to second and has room to develop, Bolt d’Oro looms a strong betting choice to win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. It might surprise no one that this terrific looking juvenile is the early-line favorite to win the 2018 Kentucky Derby!
1-1/4 mile, G-1 Rodeo Drive on the turf: Six horses made bids in this wild race to earn some positive credit. Yet, the winner Avenge only earned a moderate 95 Beyer Figure after a strong series of workouts. While Avenge has earned an automatic entry into the $2 Million BC Fillies & Mares Turf, in which she will be a severe longshot trying to beat the top turf filly in America -- Lady Eli -- I believe she will go instead as a longshot in the richer $4 Million BC Turf for two reasons: 1.) Lady Eli easily defeated Avenge twice before! and 2.) The top performers in France’s prestigious Arc de Triomphe are not going to run in the BC Turf.
Regardless, 2nd and 3rd place finishers Gold Espony and Responsibleforlove also will be longshots if they run in either BC Turf event.
1-1/8 mile, G-1 Awesome Again: Bob Baffert’s Mubtaahij defeated the hard-hitting Midnight Stormand longshot Win the Space to earn a 102 Beyer in preparation for his possible start in the $2 million BCup Mile on the grass. Last year, Midnight Storm finished third in that race.
At Churchill Downs
1-1/8 mile, G-3, D. Wayne Lukas Classic: The winner, Honorable Duty continued his string of good performances to earn a 100 Figure. While probably overmatched in the $6 million BCup Classic, he could fit in the BC Mile.
1-mile, G-3, Ack Ack: Awesome Slew earned a respectable 98 Figure to give trainer Mark Casse the option of going in the BC Mile or Sprint.
Among a few other performances by 2-year-olds on Saturday and Sunday: On Saturday, Todd Pletcher’s Seabhac only earned a 75 Beyer winning the 1-1/16 mile, G-3 Pilgrim at Belmont. By comparison at Santa Anita, Pubilius Syrus and 2nd place finisher Inscom earned 77’s in a 1-mile maiden race. On that same SA card, Moonshine Memories did earn a respectable 86 beating fillies in the 1-1/16 mile, G-1 Chandelier. On Sunday at Belmont, Chad Brown’s Significant Form won the Grade-3 Miss Grillo at 1-1/16 miles on the turf. Immediately, Brown said she will go in the 1-mile, $1 million, BCup Juvenile Turf-Fillies, on Friday, Nov. 3.
Added Note: Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday morning that “Arrogate is likely to workout on Tuesday” and he remains “optimistic” his star colt will make the BCup Classic.
Correction notice: Last week, in the printed edition of this column, I misspelled the Baffert trained Zatter and also gave Baffert undue credit for training the good miler World Approval, who is trained by Mark Casse. My sincere apologies for both errors.