Edited Keeneland Release — A victory in Friday’s 72nd running of the $600,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1) would put trainer Kenny McPeek in a tie with D. Wayne Lukas for most victories in the race for 2-year-old fillies. He has a double chance of gaining that sixth triumph after entering MJM Racing and Magdalena Racing’s
V V’s Dream and Walking L Thoroughbreds’ Shimmering Allure.
“I remember when I wanted to win just one Alcibiades,” McPeek said. “I think what I am most proud of is that I bought all of them at auction and developed them with my team. I guess the first time you could call us lucky, but the second time and then the third time, well. My goal is to win 10.”
V V’s Dream, purchased by McPeek at the 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $190,000, is looking for her third career triumph following her 8¾-length score in the 1-mile Pocahontas (G3) at Churchill Downs on Sept. 16. Her only defeat came when she was beaten a half-length by WSS Racing’s unbeaten Brightwork, the likely Darley Alcibiades favorite, in the Debutante (L) at Ellis Park on July 2.
“I don’t think she will have any trouble going 1 1/16 miles for the first time,” McPeek said about her chances in the Darley Alcibiades. “She seems to be a push-button filly, and I think the added distance will suit her even more.”
Shimmering Allure is exiting a Churchill maiden special weight victory on Sept. 20. In her debut, she was seventh at Ellis then finished second at Ellis and Saratoga.
“Shimmering Allure is not one to be ruled out,” McPeek said. “She is very workmanlike. She hasn’t run the speed figures that V V’s Dream has run, but she also has done very little wrong. I think she will like going two turns.”
McPeek’s other Darley Alcibiades winners are Simply Ravishing (2020), September Sale graduate Restless Rider (2018), September Sale graduate Dream Empress (2008), Take Charge Lady (2001) and She’s a Devil Due (2000). Eight of his runners have finished second.
McPeek also has a double chance to become the fourth trainer to win the Darley Alcibiades and $600,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) in the same year. On Saturday, he will be represented in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds, by Walking L Thoroughbreds’ Generous Tipper and John Oxley, Harold Lerner and AWC Stables’ Northern Flame. Both are exiting their first career victories.
“Both are doing exceptionally well, and this is the obvious next step for them,” McPeek said. “These are races that I always focus on and certainly enjoy participating in.”
The other trainers who have won Keeneland’s signature events for 2-year-olds are Pat Byrne (1997 with Countess Diana and Favorite Trick), D. Wayne Lukas (1995 with Cara Rafaela and Honour and Glory) and Carl Nafzger (1986 with Zero Minus and Orono).
With entries in both races this year, trainers Mike Maker, Todd Pletcher and Brad Cox also have a chance at the Darley Alcibiades/Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity sweep.
SIBELIUS CAMP HOPES STOLL KEENON OGDEN PHOENIX
IS SPRINGBOARD TO BREEDERS’ CUP
For a three-month span from the end of 2022 through March of this year, Jun Park and Delia Nash’s Sibelius ranked among the top sprinters in the country, if not the world.
Trained by Jeremiah O’Dwyer, Sibelius won the Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream Park on New Year’s Eve and followed that with a victory in the Pelican (L) at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 11. Off that victory, O’Dwyer sent Sibelius to the Middle East, and the 5-year-old gelding responded with a victory in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) Sponsored by Nakheel.
Sibelius will try to get back to the winner’s circle Friday afternoon when he goes to the post in the 171st running of the $350,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) going 6 furlongs on the main track. He will exit post 3 under Luis Saez, who was aboard him for his maiden-breaking victory here on April 23, 2021.
“He is training like he is in top form, and his works have been visually impressive,” O’Dwyer said via text about Sibelius, who arrived at Keeneland on Tuesday from Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida. “So he is ticking all the boxes right now.”
Since his victory in Dubai, Sibelius finished fourth in the Aristides (L) at Churchill Downs on June 3 and then was seventh of 12 in the Bing Crosby (G1) at Del Mar on July 29.
“The Phoenix was the plan after the Bing Crosby because we wanted to bring him home and freshen him up and give him plenty of time between starts after all the traveling he has been doing,” O’Dwyer said.
Friday’s race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, which awards the winner a fees-paid berth into the Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) to be run Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.
“He would have to win the Phoenix pretty impressively for me to consider sending him to the Breeders’ Cup, even though that is somewhere we’d love to get to run,” O’Dwyer said.
PROSPECTIVE FIELDS FOR UPCOMING STAKES
$300,000 Sycamore (G3), 3-year-olds and up, 1½ miles on turf (Entries taken Friday; race is Friday, Oct. 13): Another Mystery (trainer Chris Block), Cellist (Rusty Arnold), Channel Maker (Bill Mott).
$350,000 Franklin (G2), 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 5½ furlongs on turf (Entries taken Sunday; race is Sunday, Oct. 15): Bay Storm (Jonathan Thomas), Caravel (Brad Cox), Twilight Gleaming (IRE) (Wesley Ward)