• BASHART TOPS FIELD OF 12 FOR SUNDAY’S BOURBON
• HANDSOME MIKE RETURNS TO TURF TO CHALLENGE WISE DAN
• TIZNOWFORAMERICA BACK FOR DIXIANA BREEDERS’ FUTURITY
• GALLOPING OUT
Grade 1 stakes winners Alterite (FR) and Discreet Marq top a list of 12 fillies extended invitations for next Saturday’s 30th running of the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) for 3-year-olds to be run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.
Martin Schwartz’s Alterite, who was Group 1-placed in France, won the Garden City (G1) at Belmont Park on Sept. 14 in her U.S. debut. Alterite is trained by Chad Brown, who won last year’s QE II with Dayatthespa.
Patricia Generazio’s Discreet Marq won the Del Mar Oaks (G1) before finishing second to Alterite in the Garden City. Also the winner of the Sands Point (G2), Discreet Marq is trained by Christophe Clement. Clement won the 1994 QE II with Danish (IRE).
Other graded or group winners extended invitations include Joyce Young’s Caroline Thomas, Hit The Board Stables’ I’m Already Sexy, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Kitten’s Dumplings, Melnyk Racing Stables’ Leigh Court, Sycamore Racing’s Nellie Cashman, Wertheimer and Frere’s Sarach, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Say (IRE) and Glen Hill Farm’s Wishing Gate.
Rounding out the invitees are Andrew Stone’s Concise (GB) and Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Topaze Blanche (IRE).
No previous QE II winner has produced a QE II winner, but two of this year’s invitees are daughters of race winners.
Riskaverse, winner of the 2002 renewal, is the dam of Say. Bit of Whimsy, winner of the 2007 race, is the dam of Caroline Thomas.
BASHART TOPS FIELD OF 12 FOR SUNDAY’S BOURBON
Rosedown Racing’s Bashart, winner of the With Anticipation (G2) at Saratoga in his most recent start, tops a field of 12 entered Thursday for Sunday’s 23rd running of the $150,000 Bourbon (G3) for 2-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
The Bourbon, a “Win and You’re In” race for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) to be run Nov. 1 at Santa Anita, will go as the seventh race on Sunday’s nine-race program with a 4:17 p.m. (ET) post time.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Bashart has won his past two starts and will be ridden Sunday by John Velazquez and break from post position five. Pletcher has won the Bourbon three times: Interactif (2009), Bittel Road (2008) and Twilight Meteor (2006).
An intriguing challenger to Bashart is Brian Hall, William Gessman and River Ridge Ranch’s Boji Moon, trained by Chris Richard. An Iowa-bred, Boji Moon is undefeated in three starts and in his lone try on grass won the Kentucky Downs Juvenile by 5¼ lengths. Brian Hernandez Jr., who was aboard for the Kentucky Downs victory, will ride Sunday and break from post position seven.
The field for the Bourbon, from the inside out, is as follows: School On a Hill (Norberto Arroyo Jr., 118 pounds), Tiger Bourbon (Rosie Napravnik, 118), All Cash (Ricardo Santana Jr., 118), Solar Flair (Joe Rocco Jr., 118), Bashart (Velazquez, 122), Manaus (Leandro Goncalves, 118), Boji Moon (Brian Hernandez Jr., 118), Bon Accord (Jesus Rios, 118), Oogeley Eye (Corey Lanerie, 118), Poker Player (Channing Hill, 118), Whyruawesome (E.T. Baird, 118) and Medal Count (Robby Albarado, 118). Also-eligible: Culprit (Corey Lanerie, 118).
HANDSOME MIKE RETURNS TO TURF TO CHALLENGE WISE DAN
Reddam Racing’s Handsome Mike, winner of the Commonwealth (G3) here this spring on the main track, has returned to Keeneland to take a shot at reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan on the grass in Saturday’s Shadwell Turf Mile (G1).
“He broke his maiden on the grass and ran second in the Generous (G3) in only his third start,” said Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill. “We’ve thought that he might be better on the grass.”
Handsome Mike has not run on the grass since finishing 10th in the 1¼-mile Hollywood Derby (G1) last November.
“He won on the Polytrack here in the spring and really did well the time he was here,” Sisterson said of Handsome Mike, whose most recent start was a 10th-place finish in the Pat O’Brien (G2) on Polytrack at Del Mar. “He has trained well at Santa Anita since then.”
Handsome Mike represents half of the Reddam/O’Neill contingent this weekend as Rum Point will try to give Paul Reddam his third Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1) victory to go with those of Great Hunter (2006) and Square Eddie (2008).
“He did not run last weekend in the FrontRunner (G1) at Santa Anita because we had Bond Holder for that,” Sisterson said of the FrontRunner winner. “Rum Point has been training well and Saturday he will run in blinkers for the first time.”
TIZNOWFORAMERICA BACK FOR DIXIANA BREEDERS’ FUTURITY
Since his performance during the breeze show before this year’s Keeneland April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, Tiznowforamerica has been under consideration for Saturday’s $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1).
“He worked really well over the Polytrack (in the breeze show), and we knew the Champagne (the Grade 1 race on Saturday at Belmont Park) was going to come up pretty tough,” said Erin Finley, director of communications for co-owner West Point Thoroughbreds. “It was a pretty simple decision.”
In partnership with Vincent Viola’s St. Elias Stable, West Point bought Tiznowforamerica for
$150,000 at the Keeneland April Sale. Viola, a New York businessman who recently purchased the Florida Panthers of the NHL, and Erin’s father, Terry, West Point’s founder and president, both attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. They named Tiznowforamerica for a memorable line from Tom Durkin’s call of the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in which the colt’s sire, Tiznow, nosed out Sakhee to win the race (“Tiznow for America,” Durkin proclaimed). That year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships were run on Oct. 27, marking the first major sporting event in New York after 9/11.
Trained by Tom Albertrani, Tiznowforamerica made his previous two starts in 5½-furlong sprints on dirt at Saratoga. The colt was third in the first outing then led from the start to win his most recent race on Sept. 2. He drew post 14 for the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
“We brought a horse here last year who drew the 14, too, so we’re kinda used to that,” Finley said, referring to 10th-place finisher Tree of Life. “I think we’ll be on or near the lead, so it probably won’t matter too much. (He’ll) get out of there and be close.”
West Point has a second starter in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity, School On a Hill, owned in partnership with James Covello and Millennium Farms. Wayne Catalano trains the Student Council colt, a maiden winner over the Polytrack at Arlington Park who was seventh in the TVG Summer (G2) at Woodbine. School On a Hill was cross-entered in Sunday’s Bourbon (G3).
On Saturday, Leparoux rides another Albertrani trainee, Better Lucky, a Grade 1 winner who has returned to Keeneland for the First Lady (G1). The race will mark the third Keeneland start for the 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly, who was third a year ago in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) and was third in the Jenny Wiley (G1) in April.
At Belmont Park, Better Lucky next was second to Stephanie’s Kitten in the one-mile Just a Game (G1) on June 18 and third in the one-mile Noble Damsel (G3) on Sept. 14.
“Seems like she needs a race to get fit then she comes back and usually runs big for us,” said Albertrani’s assistant, Josh Flores. “We’re hoping she does that here.”
In the First Lady, Better Lucky will meet several familiar foes, including 2012 Jenny Wiley winner Daisy Devine, 2012 QE II winner and Dayatthespa and Grade 2 winner Hungry Island.
Four D Stable’s Turallure, tuning up for an expected run in Saturday’s Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), blew out three furlongs on a firm turf course in :36.20 from the head of the lane to the seven-eighths pole with the “dogs” up. …
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Grade 1-stakes placed Emotional Kitten worked six furlongs in company with Amen Kitten in 1:13.80.