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Countdown to the Breeders' Cup World Championships Newsletter - September 5, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Advisory: This is the fourth 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 www.breederscup.com. 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.

An All-Irish Challenge This Weekend at Leopardstown and The Curragh

The “Win and You’re In” action will have a solely Irish feel this weekend, when a total of five Breeders’ Cup Challenge races are run at Leopardstown near Dublin and The Curragh in County Kildare. Saturday’s Irish Champions Day card at Leopardstown highlights the action, with a trio of Challenge races in the QIPCO Irish Champion (GI), the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron (GI) and the Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile (GIII), which will award automatic starting berths into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), Filly & Mare Turf (G1) and Juvenile Turf (G1), respectively. Sunday at The Curragh, the Moyglare Stud (GI) and Derrinstown Stud Flying Five (GII), will offer automatic starting berths into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and Turf Sprint (G1), respectively.

As with most European Group I’s, the path to the winner’s circle goes through Coolmore and trainer Aidan O’Brien, as they will have decisive favorites in all three Leopardstown Challenge races. The $1.314 million Irish Champion, run for 3yo & up at 1 ¼ miles, will be led by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s CHURCHILL (IRE), who is trading at odds-on with the European punters off group I wins in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh this May. The 3-year-old son of Galileo (IRE) enters off a solid second-place finish to Ulysses (IRE) in another “Win and You’re In” for the Turf, York’s Juddmonte International (GI) August 23. Churchill is 7-for-10 lifetime and should improve off the International, which was his first start past a mile and against older horses.

Sir Peter Vela’s EMINENT (IRE) would be the main danger, but isn’t a confirmed starter at this point for trainer Martyn Meade. The 3-year-old son of Frankel (GB) won the Prix Saint-Germain (GII) at Deauville in his last start August 15 and is 3-for-6 lifetime. Churchill’s Stablemate, Mrs. John Magnier’sl CLIFFS OF MOHER (IRE), who was fourth in the International, is also expected for the Irish Champion, as is Cheveley Park Stud’s homebred filly QUEEN’S TRUST (GB), who won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita for trainer Sir Michael Stoute but will look to win for the first time after four straight losses.

The $367,949 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron, run for fillies & mares at a mile, will also have a strong Coolmore/O’Brien feel to it, as their star 3-year-old filly WINTER (IRE), a daughter of Galileo (IRE), will go for her fifth straight group I after wins in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and Irish 1,000 Guineas at The Curragh in May, Coronation at Royal Ascot in June and Nassau at Glorious Goodwood August 3. Winter is 5-for-8 lifetime and, while she could also run in the Irish Champion, figures to stay within her own division.

Al Shaqab Racing’s QEMAH (IRE) won the Duke of Cambridge (GII) at Royal Ascot in June, as well as last year’s Coronation and Prix Rothschild (GI) at Deauville for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. The 4-year-old daughter of Danehill Dancer (IRE) is 5-for-11 lifetime and was third in last year’s Matron to
Winter’s stablemate ALICE SPRINGS (IRE), who is also expected, though she has struggled with her form since. Coolmore/O’Brien runners RHODODENDRON (IRE) and ROLY POLY could also start in the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron.

The $105,128 Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile, run for 2-year-olds at 1-mile, is expected to lure the Aga Khan’s homebred RIYAZAN (IRE) who impressed winning his debut at The Curragh August 7 for trainer Mick Halford, as well as any number of well-bred runners for Coolmore and O’Brien.

The Curragh to Offer Two Turf Bids Sunday

The “Win and You’re In” action shifts to The Curragh on Sunday, when the $367,949 Moyglare Stud (GI) is run for 2-year-old fillies at seven furlongs, with an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf lying in the balance. Coolmore and trainer Aidan O’Brien will look to close out a potentially monstrous weekend with CLEMMIE (IRE), a full sister to their 3-year-old star Churchill (IRE), who is odds-on in Saturday’s “Win and You’re In” Irish Champion (GI) at Leopardstown (see above). The daughter of Galileo lost her first two starts but has since won the local Grangecon (GIII) in July and Duchess of Cambridge (GII) at Newmarket July 14.

Coolmore and O’Brien could also start MAGICAL (IRE) and HAPPILY (IRE), a pair of Galileo fillies who ran 1-2 in the local Debutante (GII) August 20. The former is 2-for-3 lifetime, while the latter is 2-for-4 lifetime, and both have shown high talent in their brief careers. ALPHA CENTAURI (IRE), second in Royal Ascot’s Albany (GIII) June 23 for trainer John Harrington and MARY TUDOR (IRE), who has hit the board behind Magical in both career starts for trainer Willy McCreery, are also expected for the Moyglare Stud.

The $315,385 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five (GII), run for 3yos & up at five furlongs, is expected to be led by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s CARAVAGGIO, who won his first six starts but will enter off two straight surprising losses. The O’Brien-trained 3-year-old son of Scat Daddy won Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup (GI) in June but lost at odds-on when fourth in the Darley July Cup (GI) at Newmarket and Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville August 6. O’Brien will cut back Caravaggio in the hopes he finds his best form, which would be far too much for what figures as a compact field.

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News and Notes

Baden Baden Winners Gain Two ‘Cup Berths

Baden Baden Racecourse in Germany awarded a pair of automatics starting berths into the Breeders’ Cup this past weekend when the featured “Win and You’re In” $163,000 Longines Grosser Preis von Baden (GI) was run Sunday and the “Win and You’re In” $73,640 T. Von Zastrow Stutenpreis (GII) was run Saturday.

The von Baden, at about 1 ½ miles, awarded a starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf and it was Stall Ullmann’s homebred GUIGNOL (GER) (Filip Minarik) posting a mild surprise when he beat heavily favored IQUITOS (GER) by 2 ½ lengths. Jean-Pierre Carvalho trained the winner, a 5-year-old son of Cape Cross (IRE) who also won the local Grosser Preis der Badischen Wirtschaft (GII) in May. Guignol is now 5-for-13 lifetime and has also run in France and Italy, so a trip to the United States isn’t too much of a reach.

The “Win and You’re In” action kicked off Saturday, when the $73,640 T. Von Zastrow Stutenpreis (GII) at about 1 ½ miles, awarded an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Eckhard Sauren’s ASHIANA (GER) (Andrasch Starke) closed late for a half-length win over DIANA STORM (GER) in what was a mild upset. The 3-year-old daughter of Master Craftsman (IRE) won for the third time in five career starts for trainer Peter Schiergen but scored her first career group win. Sent off at 4-1, she surprised her owner, who hinted there could be a trip to Del Mar later this fall.

"We were hoping for a place, but she won," said Sauren. "We'll see what we do next, but a start in the Breeders' Cup is a possibility."

Mind Your Biscuits Still Pointing to Sprint

J Stables, Head of Plains Partners and trainer Chad Summers’ MIND YOUR BISCUITS, who was third in last year TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (and moved up to second via disqualification) is still targeting the race this year at Del Mar, according to Summers. The 4-year-old New York-bred son of Posse was one of the divisional leaders this year off wins in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (GI) at Meydan in March and Belmont Sprint Championship (GII) in July, but disappointed when a sixth to last year’s Sprint winner and champion Drefong in Saratoga’s August 26 “Win and You’re In” Forego (GI), an automatic qualifier for this year’s race. Summers was encouraged by the way Mind Your Biscuits came out of the race and is looking forward to the ultimate goal later this fall.

"I thought he was a little flat in the paddock and I didn't really love how he warmed up. He just didn't run," Summers said. "Hats off to Drefong; he's a champion and he showed up. We got beat eight lengths and we know what the target is in the Breeders' Cup."

Mind Your Biscuit is 6-for-17 lifetime and could target Belmont Park’s Vosburgh (GI) September 30.

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