Countdown to the Breeders' Cup World Championships Newsletter - September 12, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Advisory: This is the fifth of nine weekly news releases focusing on the horses and races leading to the 34th Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, November 3 and Saturday, November 4 at Del Mar. For more information, please visit The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live on NBC and NBCSN. You can follow all the contenders’ activity leading up to the Breeders’ Cup with Equibase’s free "Road to the Breeders’ Cup" Virtual Stable notification service.

Woodbine Mile, Churchill’s Juvenile Races, Highlight Challenge Weekend

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge series heads to Canada with Saturday’s “Win and You’re In” Ricoh Woodbine Mile (GI), which will award an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile. The Woodbine Mile headlines a huge weekend of racing outside of Toronto that also includes Sunday’s Natalma (GI) and Summer (GII), a pair of “Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and Juvenile Turf, respectively. While in Kentucky, the opening of Churchill Downs’ September meet sees Saturday’s Pocahontas (GII) and Iroquois (GIII) as automatic qualifiers to the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, respectively.

The $800,000 Woodbine Mile may not have the star power of recent winners Wise Dan and Tepin, but in their place comes a prospective field of 12 that is full of depth, with Live Oak Plantation’s homebred WORLD APPROVAL leading the way for trainer Mark Casse. The 5-year-old son of Northern Afleet has won 3-of-4 this year, including Saratoga’s Fourstardave (GI) August 5, and would rate as one of the division leaders with a win. Overall World Approval is 9-for-22 lifetime and has long had this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile as his main late-season goal.

The Woodbine Mile has always appealed to the international raiders and this year is no different, with Mrs. Fitri Hay, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s DEAUVILLE (IRE) headlining the list of Europeans. The 4-year-old son of Galileo (IRE) has faced some of the best of Europe’s middle-distance turf runners this year for trainer Aidan O’Brien and has more than held his own, including a close third in Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne (GI) in June. Deauville, who is 4-for-15 lifetime, will cut back in the Woodbine Mile after running third in the August 12 Arlington Million (GI), which was a “Win and You’re In” for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Geoff and Sandra Turnbull’s MONDIALISTE (IRE) is no stranger to North American racing, as he won the Woodbine Mile in 2015 before running second to Tepin in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland. The 7-year-old son of Galileo has lost eight straight, dating back to his win in last year’s Million for trainer David O’Meara. Mondialiste, who was 12th in last year’s Turf at Santa Anita, is 7-for-26 lifetime and could find a reversal of form with a return to North America.

Among the others for consideration are the O’Brien-trained LANCASTER BOMBER, who was second earlier this year in Royal Ascot’s St James’s Palace (GI) in June. AROD (IRE), CONQUEST PANTHERA, DRAGON BAY, DUTCH CONNECTION (GB), GLENVILLE GARDENS, LONG ON VALUE and TOWER OF TEXAS are also expected for the Ricoh Woodbine Mile.

Juvenile Turf Berths Up for Grabs in Natalma, Summer

Sunday the action shifts to the 2-year-olds going a mile on the turf with the $250,000 Natalma offering a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, while the Summer will award a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. The Natalma has long been a key prep for the Juvenile Fillies Turf and figures to draw an overflow field, as it provides juveniles a rare chance to go after a Grade I on the grass. The prospective field could be led by Goloconda Stable’s MARCH X PRESS, who is perfect in two starts for trainer Todd Pletcher. The New York-bred daughter of 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby closed strongly to win twice at Saratoga this summer, including the Bolton Landing August 16 over Coolmore’s FAIRYLAND, a daughter of Scat Daddy who could test her again for trainer Wesley Ward.

The local contingent could be led by Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry’s homebred DIXIE MOON, a daughter of 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Curlin who was bet down to odds-on in her debut over the Polytrack August 19 for trainer Catherine Day-Phillips and didn’t disappoint with a comfortable win. Gary Barber’s WONDER GADOT won her career debut over the course August 26 for trainer Mark Casse and, judging by the 4-length win, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro figures to have a major say. Robert Evans’ homebred DELAMAR was a sharp maiden winner over the local turf course in her second start August 25 for trainer Roget Attfield, and the daughter of Into Mischief appears long on talent. DOODER, FABRIANA, GOLDEN ORB and SLY BEAUTY could also start in the “Win and You’re In” Natalma.

The $200,000 Summer is also expected to draw a large cast, with Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s HEMP HEMP HURRAY potentially leading the way for Ward. The son of 2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller has won both of his starts with ease, including the Tyro August 6 at Monmouth Park, and though he’s yet to run past six furlongs, he’s clearly bred to handle the added ground. The home team could be led by John Oxley’s FLAMEAWAY, a son of Scat Daddy who won on debut locally over the Polytrack in May for Casse then won the off-the-turf Skidmore Stakes on August 18 at Saratoga over a muddy main track.


Churchill’s Opening Weekend to Offer Two Juvenile Bids

Churchill Downs’ September meet opens Friday and wastes little time getting into high gear, with Saturday’s “Win and You’re In” $200,000 Pocahontas and “Win and You’re In” $150,000 Iroquois offering 2-year-olds an early chance at going two turns in the 1 1/16-mile contests.

The Pocahontas, which will award an automatic starting berth into the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, figures to draw a wide-open group that is still looking to sort themselves out. Michael Lauffer and Greg McDonald’s HARBOR LIGHTS impressed in her debut win at Ellis Park August 12 for trainer Steve Asmussen, and the daughter of Shackleford is bred to stretch out. The same can be said for Barry and Joni Butzow’s FIRSTMATE, a daughter of 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman, who closed from 20 lengths back and won by 9 in her debut at Canterbury Park August 20 for trainer Joe Sharp. Dawn and Ike Thrash’s KELLY’S HUMOR is undefeated in two starts for trainer Brad Cox, and the daughter of 2007 and 2008 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute enters off a closing win in the Ellis Park Juvenile Fillies August 20.

Impressive local debut winner BEAUTIFUL STREET, sharp Ellis Park maiden winners CLASSY MUSIC, and VISION OF JUSTICE; JULIA’S KITTY, who easily won on debut at Indian Grand, NO BLAME, perfect in two starts at Indiana Grand, and TAKE CHARGE PAULA, who has won both starts, including the White Clay Creek at Delaware Park August 9, could also start in the “Win and You’re In” Pocahontas.

The Iroquois could be a bit more settled, with Albaugh Family Stable’s and trainer Dale Romans holding a heavy hand, regardless of who they choose to start. DAK ATTACK would loom a big favorite if he runs, as the son of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper has won both his starts impressively, including the Ellis Park Juvenile by a widening 3 lengths August 20. HOLLYWOOD STAR would also rate a long look, as he was second in the August 13 Saratoga Special (GII) and, as a son of Malibu Moon, is bred to relish more ground and a second turn.

HONORABLE TREASURE, a 6 ¼-length maiden stakes winner at Saratoga, KATE’S GOLDDEN DUDE, who won with ease in his debut at Indiana Grand, NORTHERN TRAIL, TEN CITY and ORBATRON, the 2-3-4 finishers behind Zak Attack at Ellis and TRES EQUIS, who easily won his dirt debut at Indiana Grand, could also run in the “Win and You’re In” Iroquois.


News and Notes

Nelson Earns Juvenile Turf Berth at Leopardstown

Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s NELSON (IRE) (Donnacha O’Brien) earned an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf with a 3-length win over KEW GARDENS (IRE) in Saturday’s $105,128 Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile (GIII) at 1-mile at Leopardstown. Aidan O’Brien trained the winner, a 2-year-old son of Frankel (GB) who entered off a local maiden win August 17 and moved to 2-for-4 lifetime. O’Brien indicated that Nelson could run next in Doncaster’s Racing Post Trophy (GI) October 28.

Caravaggio Returns to Form at The Curragh, Earns Turf Sprint Bid

Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s CARAVAGGIO (Ryan Moore), long held in high regard by trainer Aidan O’Brien, bounced back from two shocking defeats and earned an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with a one-length win over ALPHABET (GB) in Sunday’s $315,385 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five (GII) going five-and- a half furlongs at The Curragh. The 3-year-old son of Scat Daddy won the first six starts of his career then was fourth at odds-on in the Darley July Cup (GI) at Newmarket and then was sixth at odds-in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville in his last start August 6. Caravaggio, who won the Commonwealth Cup (GI) at Royal Ascot in June, clearly returned to form at The Curragh while moving his lifetime record to 7-for-9. O’Brien mentioned he will keep all options open for Caravaggio, which includes a trip to Del Mar for the Turf Sprint.

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