Godolphin Racing’s Little Belle, winner of this spring’s Ashland Stakes (G1), will be the lone three-year-old challenging a field of 10 other older fillies and mares in Sunday’s 53rd running of the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
The Spinster is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge that will earn the winner a spot in the starting gate October 24 at Santa Anita for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (G1).
Regular rider Rajiv Maragh will be aboard Little Belle, who will break from post position six and carry 120 pounds, three fewer than her rivals.
The other Grade 1 winner in the field is Team Valor’s Unbridled Belle, who took the 2007 Beldame (G1). John Velazquez has the mount Sunday on the Todd Pletcher trainee and will break from post position nine.
The field for the Juddmonte Spinster, from the rail out, is as follows: Wake Up Maggie (IRE) (J. Leparoux, 123 pounds), Indescribable (R. Albarado, 123), Model (M. Baze, 123), Carriage Trail (K. Desormeaux, 123), Sharp Susan (R. Douglas, 123), Little Belle (R. Maragh, 120), Jibboom (E. Prado, 123), Rolling Sea (S. Bridgmohan, 123), Unbridled Belle (J. Velazquez, 123), Say You Will (IRE) (M. Mena, 123) and Rosinka (IRE) (J. Rose, 123).
BITTEL ROAD IS TOP WEIGHT FOR WOODFORD RESERVE BOURBON
Twelve two-year-olds will bid for a spot in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf when they meet in the 18th running of the $200,000 Woodford Reserve Bourbon (G3) on Sunday. The race covers 8 ½ furlongs on the Keeneland turf course.
Last year, Bourbon runner-up Nownownow went on to win the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. This year's race will be run on October 25 at Santa Anita.
Assigned top weight of 121 pounds is James T. Scatuorchio and John Iracan's Bittel Road, who is unbeaten in two starts. The Stormy Atlantic colt won the With Anticipation, a 1 1/16-mile stakes at Saratoga, on August 29 in his most recent start.
John Velazquez will ride Bittel Road for trainer Todd Pletcher, who sent out Twilight Meteor to win the race in 2006. Bittel Road was sold for $340,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
The field for the Woodford Reserve Bourbon, from the rail out, is as follows: Bittel Road (J. Velazquez, 121 pounds), Giant Oak (E. Prado, 117), Har D Boy (S. Bridgmohan, 117), Dynamic Force (K. Desormeaux, 117), Ninth Client (J. Leparoux, 117), Ghost Five (C. Marquez, Jr., 117), Appalachian Trail (J. Theriot, 117), Vaquero (B. Hernandez Jr., 117), Just Like Biscuit (C. Borel, 117), Driving Snow (GB) (R. Albarado, 117), Albin (R. Douglas, 117) and Jack Spratt (M. Mena, 117).
MANI BHAVAN COULD JUMP-START BIG WEEKEND FOR KLESARIS
One of the first items of business for trainer Steve Klesaris on Thursday morning at Keeneland after arriving at 5:30 with probable Darley Alcibiades (G1) favorite Mani Bhavan was to check out the racetrack.
“I have been here a lot for the sales, but I never have raced a horse here,” said Klesaris, who is sitting on 999 victories for a career that began in 1977 when he got his trainer’s license at age 17.
Mani Bhavan will give Klesaris his first shot at No. 1,000 when she faces six rivals in the 1 1/16-mile stakes that serves as her initial race over a synthetic surface.
“Since she won the Spinaway (on August 31) she has been training on a synthetic surface at Fair Hill,” Klesaris said. “She has breezed very well on it, but then most of them do. When they race on it, they either really like it or they don’t.”
A $30,000 Keeneland September Sale purchase in 2007, Mani Bhavan debuted in style with a 9 ¼-length victory at Delaware Park on July 12 and followed that with stakes scores at Saratoga in the Adirondack (G2) on August 13 and the Grade 1 Spinaway.
“Going into her debut, she had showed enough ability to win her first race,” Klesaris said of the Storm Boot filly, who is owned by Puglisi Racing and TYB Stable. “But you never know for sure their level of talent until you run them.”
The $500,000 Darley Alcibiades is part of the “Win and You’re In” Challenge that earns the winner a berth in the starting gate for the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) to be run October 24 at Santa Anita.
With Puglisi’s Miraculous Miss already ticketed to the Sentient Flight Group Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, a race in which she ran second last year as Klesaris’ first Breeders’ Cup starter, the trainer may have to expand his shipping cargo to California.
“That would be a good problem to have,” said Klesaris, who could earn another Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies spot when Sky Diva runs in Saturday’s one-mile Frizette (G1) at Belmont Park in another “Win and You’re In” race. “When we go, we would probably go in right on top of it.”
INDYANNE BRINGS GILCHRIST TO KEENELAND TO RACE
Trainer Greg Gilchrist first appeared on the national racing scene in 1994 when he saddled the filly Soviet Problem to a gutsy, runner-up finish behind Cherokee Run in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
Now, he has another fast filly on his hands in a three-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie named Indyanne. She arrived at Keeneland Tuesday night for Saturday’s 28th running of the $300,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G3), a six-furlong test on the main track.
“She has got a lot to prove to catch up to Soviet Problem,” Gilchrist said. “Physically, they are not similar, but their styles are similar, both with a lot of speed.”
That speed has served Indyanne well with victories in her first four starts by an average margin of eight lengths. She took her initial two starts at age two before going on the shelf for nine months.
“She had a small problem last year, and if she wasn’t the kind of filly that she was, we probably could have continued on,” Gilchrist said. “I told the owners (David and Jill Heerensperger) that it would be better to stop on her then and then go on to have a good three-year-old.”
Indyanne responded with a seven-length win in her 2008 debut and followed that up with a 9 ½-length win in her stakes debut in the Azalea (G3) at Calder. The lone blemish on her resume is a second-place finish in the Victory Ride (G3) at Saratoga when she lunged at the break to compromise her chances.
Gilchrist, who is not afraid to ship horses from his Northern California base, never has been represented by a runner at Keeneland.
“I have been here a hundred times for sales, and the funny thing is I will probably be back in two weeks,” Gilchrist said referring to the Lexus Raven Run (G2) at seven furlongs on October 18. “I have another three-year-old filly named High Resolve, but she has the same style as Indyanne and it made no sense to bring both.
“But it seems like more and more you have to ship. It seems like there are more good races than good horses. It gives you a chance to pick and choose.”
Robby Albarado will have the mount Saturday on Indyanne and break from post position one in the TCA, which offers the winner an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on October 24 at Santa Anita.
“Ideally, I’d like to have another 10 days to two weeks, especially after all the shipping,” Gilchrist said of the short turnaround time between races. “But sometimes you can string two together, but she will get more time before the next one.”
BEST INVADES KEENELAND WITH THREE IN LANE'S END BREEDERS' FUTURITY
Flashmans Paper (GB), Deposer (IRE) and Square Eddie have traveled a long way to compete in Saturday's $500,000 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (G1). They are trained by John R. Best, who is based in Kent, England, and has ventured into North American sales and racing.
Last year, Best sent Group 2 winner and Irish classic-placed Rising Cross (GB) to the United States, and she ran fifth in the Long Island (G3) at Aqueduct. In April, Rising Cross finished third in Keeneland's Grey Goose Bewitch (G3).
“John always wanted to run horses abroad,” said Neil Morris, Best's traveling head lad who is at Keeneland with Donna Brincat. “(Rising Cross) ran a big race, and we decided to run some more over here. The prize money is better over here than what it is in Great Britain, and the owners are happy to do it.”
David Gorton's Flashmans Papers is a gelding by the Danehill stallion Exceed And Excel, a champion sprinter in Australia. His one win in seven starts came when he took the six-furlong Windsor Castle at Royal Ascot. Kent Bloodstock's Deposer, who has one win in four starts, is a son of the Green Desert stallion Kheleyf, a Group 3 winner in England.
Smart Eddie, a $200,000 purchase at the 2007 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, is an Ontario-bred son of Smart Strike. He was second in a Group 3 race in England on September 6 in his most recent race, and will make his first start in the Breeders' Futurity for owner J. Paul Reddam. In 2006, Reddam’s Great Hunter won the race.
All three horses have raced on synthetic surfaces, and Brincat said Best thought they were suited to the Breeders' Futurity.
“We had a couple of wins at Royal Ascot, and I think that's given him a boost of confidence,” Morris added about Best, who also sent out Kingsgate Native to a Group 1 victory at the meeting. “He decided to go with his heart.”
Morris and Brincat are making their first trip to the United States, while Best remains in England. The two are excited about how their horses will perform.
“You have to go into races like this feeling confident,” said Morris, who said he learned only recently that the Breeders' Futurity winner would receive an automatic berth to the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). “You have to go out to win.”
“We think they have a chance because John wouldn't have made the long trip,” Brincat added.
In His Favor Stable’s His Greatness, seventh in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) in his most recent start, worked three furlongs on the main track in :38.80 in preparation for Saturday’s Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (G1) for trainer Marco Salazar. … Putting in grass works in advance of Sunday’s Woodford Reserve Bourbon (G3) were Silverton Hill Farm’s Driving Snow (GB) (:38.40 for three-eighths) for trainer Darrin Miller and Roger Braugh Jr.’s Vaquero (1:04.60 for five-eighths) for trainer Michael Leahy.
OPENING WEEKEND SPECIAL EVENTS
Friday, October 3 - Darley Alcibiades Giveaway - The first 3,000 patrons with paid admission receive a free Darley umbrella.
Saturday, October 4 – Breakfast With the Works – Take a behind-the-scenes look at racing’s stars during Breakfast With the Works, from 7 – 8:30 a.m. Enjoy a Southern-style breakfast and free children’s activities. This Saturday, Keeneland will feature a paddock demonstration by Old Friends, a facility for retired Thoroughbreds in Georgetown, Kentucky.
Saturday Handicapping Seminars – Listen to expert handicappers trackside each Saturday during the meet, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Sunday, October 5 - Keeneland will simulcast four races, including the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Prix d’Opera, from Longchamp near Paris. Post time for the Prix d’Opera is 10 a.m., followed by the Arc at 10:40 a.m.