Edited Breeders’ Cup Staff Notes — LONGINES TURF — Nautilus – Stud Valentin E Jarussi’s Nautilus will represent South America when the Brazilian-bred/raced son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer contests the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf on Saturday. Training of the chestnut was assumed this summer by Brazil-born, Kentucky-based Paulo Lobo. He was previously conditioned by Nilson Borges de Lima, including a “Win and You’re In” victory in the Grande Premio Brasil on June 26, when last seen competing.
“He’s doing very well and he is adjusting very well and very fast here,” Lobo said. “I got him three months ago. It’s not the perfect scenario to run a horse from South America the first time in America in the Breeders’ Cup. Ideally we would need about five or six months. We needed more time, but he has been training well and looks well and happy.”
The 4yo has breezed seven times since joining Lobo, including a 4f move in 49 flat on Tuesday. One week prior, he worked 6f in 1:15 flat. Both works were at The Thoroughbred Center.
“His 49 breeze yesterday was very easy, very fast and he did it on his own. I liked it —actually I loved it,” Lobo continued. “The race is unbelievably tough, but let’s see what happens. Like he did in Brazil, he will sit back and make one run.”
Javier Castellano, a 12-time Breeders’ Cup winner, has the mount from post 12. Nautilus’ morning line is set at 30-1.
War Like Goddess – George Krikorian’s dual Grade 1 winner War Like Goddess ponied riderless and without a saddle at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday on the all-weather training track. Trainer Bill Mott was aboard the pony as they had an easy two-lap gallop around the 5f oval.
Beyond Brilliant – Trainer John Shirreffs, who always will be remembered as the trainer of Zenyatta, the only female to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, has returned to the event with C R K Stable’s 4yo Beyond Brilliant, who will face a full field in Saturday’s FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile presented by PDJF.
“He’s trained very well,” Shirreffs said. “His last two in California were exceptional. He shipped in well and is nice and bright.
“I think the mile is sort of an interesting race because everybody’s going to be riding tight with the tight turns. And, so I think for us, because our horse has speed, he will be in a good position. He’ll hopefully find an opening or something good happens during the race that gives him a better chance to win. I think that experience on the tighter tracks in California will help and hopefully we have good luck and have an opportunity.”
Shirreffs says he still gets stopped by people asking about Zenyatta, especially at events like the Breeders’ Cup.
“I was about to explode that day,” Shirreffs said of the Classic win. “That was fun.”
Domestic Spending – Arguably one of the top American hopes in the FanDuel Mile presented by PDJF, Klaravich Stables’ Chad Brown-trained Domestic Spending continues to impress in the mornings, galloping a routine circuit of the main dirt track on Wednesday morning under Peter Leiva Roman.
“I’m confident that I have the horse prepared to go in and run a good race,” Brown said. “I’m very confident in his soundness and fitness. It’s a tall order to run against horses who are in form in this race. Running him a mile is a challenge, it’s been quite a while for this horse since he saw a mile race, but he looks better than I’ve ever seen him look physically. He’s grown up and has great strength to him. He’s carrying good condition without looking unfit. His gallop outs have been consistently strong the last three weeks here and he’s a super-talented horse.”
Domestic Spending drew the dreaded outside 14-post in the Mile and will be piloted by Flavien Prat. The last time he raced in Kentucky, the British-bred son of Kingman won the G1 Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day 2020 off a 154-day break. He will have to win off 447 days on Saturday.
Ivar – Third time could be the charm for Bonne Chance Farm and Stud R D I’s Brazilian-bred Ivar in the FanDuel Mile, as the Paulo Lobo pupil breaks from post 6 under Javier Castellano with morning line odds of 15-1. The 6yo will make just his 15th start, but has won six times and finished in the money in 10 starts. On Wednesday morning, he left Barn 68 and had an easy gallop, having worked a maintenance 4f on Oct. 29 in 49 2/5.
Winner of the 2020 G1 Shadwell Turf Mile over course and distance, the son of Agnes Gold was the morning line favorite for the subsequent Mile, closing well to finish fourth by 2 lengths behind Order of Australia. His 2021 season included just three starts, but ended with a flying third in the Mile, beaten 1½ lengths by Space Blues. This year, he already has raced three times, winning a Listed stakes at Indiana before finishing a distant second to Mile morning line favorite Modern Games in the G1 Woodbine Mile. He came back three weeks later and finished a fast-closing second in the G1 Coolmore Turf Mile, setting him up for a third Breeders’ Cup.
“We started him in July in Indiana and he ran very well there and then we sent him to Canada, where he lost to a very good horse, and then we came back to the Keeneland Mile for the third time – to another very good horse in Annapolis – but I think he’s now on top of his best form for this year going into this race,” Lobo explained. “I think he is as good as he was when he won the Keeneland Mile two years ago and I’m expecting a very good race from him on Saturday.”
A dual Grade 1 winner in Brazil in 2019, Ivar has been ridden in 10 of his 11 stateside starts by Joe Talamo, who will be replaced by 12-time Breeders’ Cup-winning jockey Javier Castellano on Saturday. Castellano has never won a Mile, but half his aforementioned trophies came in grass races.
“The manager, owner and I have been talking about a change for Ivar for a while and we picked Castellano because he’s been riding for me very well in New York,” Lobo explained. “He’s doing very well right now and he knows the track. There isn’t much to say about Castellano – his name speaks for itself. He also fits well for Ivar.”
MAKER’S MARK FILLY & MARE TURF
In Italian – Peter Brant’s In Italian had a routine gallop Wednesday morning as she prepares to start as one of the favorites in Saturday’s Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). The daughter of Dubawi appears the strongest of three contenders trained by Chad Brown, as he seeks a record-extending fifth victory. He previously won with Zagora (2012), Dayatthespa (2014), Stephanie’s Kitten (2015) and Sistercharlie (2018). He also will saddle Rougir and Virginia Joy.
“In Italian has just progressed all year,” Brown said. “She’s gotten stronger and faster. She’s identified her preferred style is going to the front and she’s a dangerous horse. When you get a horse with a lot of speed and they can carry it, they’re hard to beat because they’re always in front of you and they just keep going. You’re at their mercy. They are rare horses to have.”
Andthewinneris – From the first crop of Oscar Performance, Andthewinner comes to the Juvenile after capturing the Castle & Key Bourbon (G2) at Keeneland on Oct. 9. On Wednesday he galloped a routine 1 ½ m on the main track.
Andthewinneris is a homebred for Susan Moulton, who offered him at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He failed to meet Moulton’s minimum price and she retained him on a final bid of $67,000.
“If you don’t buy us, you gotta beat us,” Moulton said after Andthewinneris won his career debut at Keeneland in April.
Following her family’s tradition, Moulton was deeply involved in racing before changing course. When she opted to get back in the game, she joined forces with Catalano about a decade ago. But his connection to her husband Shane Sellers, who won 4,393 races as a jockey including two in Breeders’ Cup races, goes back decades.
“Shane started riding (races) for me when he first came to Chicago,” Catalano said. “We won a lot of races together.”
Battle of Normandy– West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing’s Battle of Normandy figures to get some firm ground Friday in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), something he did not have in his most recent start in the Pilgrim.
“You can draw a line right through that one,” trainer Shug McGaughey said of the seventh-place effort. “The ground was just too soft.”
Battle of Normandy was an impressive winner on debut at Saratoga and followed that up with a runner-up effort in the With Anticipation on a course labeled as good at Saratoga.
“He just couldn’t get out (of traffic) until it was too late,” McGaughey said of the With Anticipation. “And the horse that finished behind him (Andthewinneris) came back to win the Bourbon here.”
Jose Lezcano will be aboard for the first time in the Juvenile Turf.
Gaslight Dancer/Really Good – Trainer Mike Maker has two chances to add another Juvenile Turf victory to his resume following Fire At Will’s score at Keeneland in 2020. On Wednesday both galloped on the main track.
“Neither has won a stakes (like Fire At Will at this stage) even though they are stakes placed,” he said. “Gaslight Dancer was unlucky to lose (when second in the Futurity Stakes at Belmont at the Big A Oct. 9.) I would compare him more (than Really Good) to Fire At Will. He’s had three starts and is very talented but still has to figure it out.”
Really Good comes to the Juvenile Turf after finishing third in the Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes (G2) at Keeneland Oct. 9.
I’m Very Busy – Trainer Chad Brown will look for his second Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in four years when he saddles Team Hanley, Richard Schermerhorn and Paul Braverman’s I’m Very Busy in the 1m, $1 million grass test.
An eye-catching debut victor at Saratoga over 1 1/16m in August, the son of Brown-trained G1 Preakness winner Cloud Computing returned to finish a length second as the heavy favorite in the G2 Pilgrim on Oct. 2.
On Wednesday morning, the $135,000 OBS March graduate left Keeneland’s barn 64 and had a routine gallop on the dirt track under exercise rider Peter Leiva Roman. With a morning line of 9-2, the logical contender will reunite with Flavien Prat from post eight of 14 on Friday. Last out, over Aqueduct’s yielding turf, he broke from post nine of 11.
“I think the drawing a better post than last time and getting firmer ground hits the nail on the head with him,” Brown said. “He’s training very well and it’s great to have a talented son of Cloud Computing. I didn’t expect him to be a turf horse because of that, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a good horse.”
Major Dude – Spendthrift Farm’s Major Dude will attempt to give trainer Todd Pletcher a second victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) on Friday.
Unlike Pluck, who had three starts on grass before winning the Juvenile Turf for Pletcher in 2010, Major Dude has made only one turf start.
“I loved his debut on the grass,” Pletcher said of Major Dude’s victory in the Pilgrim on Oct. 2 over yielding turf that came after three starts on dirt. “He handled that fine and I think he will handle the firm. He has had two good works over the course here.”
Another plus in Major Dude’s favor has been the company he has been keeping in his works.
“That has been very encouraging,” Pletcher said of Major Dude working with Grade 1 winner and FanDuel Mile (G1) presented by PDJF contender Annapolis.
Major Dude galloped 1 1/2m with Nora McCormack aboard Wednesday morning and later had a paddock schooling session.
Nagirroc – Graham Motion trainee Nagirroc galloped 1 m Wednesday morning under exercise rider Emma Cary. Owned by Madaket Stables, Little Red Feather Racing and William Strauss, the son of Lea is slated to compete in the Juvenile Turf on Friday. He was purchased privately by the group after his first start and broke his maiden next time out.
“He’s a very classy horse. He almost looks more like a three-year-old than a two-year-old,” Motion said. “I told those guys (the ownership group) from the get-go that this horse seems like a really nice type. We breezed him one time before we ran him in the maiden race.”
Nagirroc went on to win the Futurity Stakes at Belmont At The Big A two weeks after breaking his maiden.
“When you buy a horse at this time of the year you’ve got to have the Breeders’ Cup in mind, and that’s why you get into these horses, so we rushed him a little bit to do that (run in his first race for the connections),” Motion said. “When he won, in order to get him here (the Breeders’ Cup), we really needed to run him back again (in the Futurity). He’s just done everything so professionally. He’s a cool horse.”
The colt will break from post nine on Friday with Manny Franco aboard at morning-line odds of 20-1.
Reckoning Force – Qatar Racing, Marc Detampel and Fergus Galvin’s Reckoning Force will attempt to make amends on Saturday in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf one race after finishing seventh as one of the favorites in Keeneland’s Bourbon Stakes.
Winner of the $497,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile four weeks prior, Sept. 14, the son of Air Force Blue will have a rider and equipment change when the 20-1-shot breaks from post 11 under Tyler Gaffalione. He was ridden in his last two stateside efforts by Joel Rosario.
“He’s a pretty calm horse and, if anything, he might be a little too calm, so we’re putting a set of blinkers on this Friday just to sharpen him up a little bit,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “He just, at some parts of the race, lacks a little sharpness.
“The last day we ran him here in the Bourbon, he had some trouble leaving the gate – he got pinched – and was too far back and there was a horse in front who was all over the place,” Walsh continued. “We just never got any kind of a run in the race and that’s why we thought we would crack on and take our chance in the Breeders’ Cup.
“I think the horse is good enough, he just needs to be a littler sharper. He got a nice draw in 11 and I prefer that to being inside, where he could get buried. Being outside, he has options.”
Webslinger – D. J. Stable’s Webslinger is among a field of 14 horses entered in Friday’s Juvenile Turf here at Keeneland. The Mark Casse-trained son of Constitution galloped a mile Wednesday morning over a fast track in preparation for his first start since winning the Nownownow Stakes as a maiden at Monmouth Park in September.
“He’s a horse that we’ve liked all along,” Casse said. “He had just a terrible trip at Saratoga (in his second start). He should’ve won easily. That’s why I ran a maiden in a $500,000 stake, because that’s what I thought of him. If you look at his numbers, they’re as good as anybody’s. I think he has a legitimate chance.”
Webslinger will be breaking from post 10 under Dylan Davis who rode the colt in his previous start. He has morning-line odds of 20-1.
JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
Delight – George Strawbridge Jr.’s Delight has turned out to be well-named and has brought the prominent 85-year-old breeding and racing stalwart back to the Breeders’ Cup with her berth in the Juvenile Filly Turf.
With regular rider Luis Saez up, Delight will start from post nine in the 14-horse field. She is 6-1 on the morning line and will be the first Breeders’ Cup runner for Strawbridge since 2018.
Jonathan Thomas trains the chestnut daughter from the first crop of Mendelssohn for Strawbridge, who has won three Breeders’ Cup races from 21 starts. Delight earned her spot in the Juvenile Filly Turf with a 5 length victory in the Jessamine, a “Win and You’re In” challenge series race at Keeneland on Oct. 7. The front-running score in the Jessamine was her second-straight victory and brought her early career record to 2-0-2 from four starts.
“She’s progressed really nicely over the year,” Thomas said. “We started her here early in the spring. Bought her out of a 2-year-old sale and sprinted her, knowing she’d probably need a little bit more ground but it was a good chance to get some experience.
“Then we tapped the brakes for a couple months and brought her to Saratoga. She ran a very good third against a good filly of Chad’s (trainer Chad Brown, Pink Hue) and Xigera, who is trained by Phil Bauer and was third in the Alcibiades. She’s kept good company.”
Delight picked up her first victory going 7½ f at Delaware Park on Aug. 27.
“There was good spacing to the maiden at Delaware,” Thomas said. “She did that well, and that teed us up really nicely for the Jessamine.”
“I think she was a little bit trip-compromised at Saratoga. She might have finished a little better. Through no fault of his own, Luis had a really wide trip and I think our sheet number was comparable to the winner. It was equal, if not a little bit faster. So we left there feeling pretty good about what we had. She put it all together in the Jessamine and subsequently has trained great. We’re really happy to be over here.”
Strawbridge is an Eclipse Award-winning breeder, but also has purchased some of his better runners at auction. In recent years, Strawbridge has been active in the 2yo sales, Thomas said, and acquired Delight at the March OBS sale.
“He’s embraced that. I think we’ve had more luck recently,” Thomas said. “The last two years have been really good to us. We bought another filly that won a stake at Saratoga. We’re starting to kind of get up on our skis as far as going to the 2-year-old sales and getting some productivity out of it. He stepped up to the plate and she was a $400,000 filly. She breezed like it. She looked like it. She, obviously, has run up to her price tag.
“He’s opportunistic and he keeps eyes open for nice fillies. Thankfully we were able to get her.”
Strawbridge has been one of the leading figures in the industry as a breeder and an owner for decades, earning multiple Eclipse and Cartier Awards. He is a third-generation horseman and inherited his famed green-and-white halved silks from his grandfather, John Strawbridge.
As an owner his three Breeders’ Cup winners are Tikkanen in the 1994 Turf (G1), Forever Together in the 2008 Filly & Mare Turf (G1) and Informed Decision in the 2009 Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). Has bred two Breeders’ Cup winners: 2019 Turf winner and Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar and Tikkanen. He has bred and raced more than 100 Grade/Group 1 winners in North America and Europe. They include Selkirk, the Cartier Award-winning European Miler in 1991 and 1992 who also took honors as the champion 3-Year-Old Colt and the Champion Older Male in England and in France, Moonlight Cloud, the 2013 European Champion Older Horse, and Rainbow View, the 2-Year-Old Champion Filly in Europe in 2008.
Despite all his success as a breeder it wasn’t until 2019 that he won his first Eclipse Award as Outstanding Breeder for Bricks and Mortar.
Strawbridge has won three Eclipse Awards for flat racers Waya (FR) (1979 Older Female); Forever Together (2008 Female Turf Horse; Informed Decision (2009 Female Sprinter). Waya was co-owned by Peter Brant. He also has won three Eclipse Awards for his top steeplechase horses Café Prince (1977 and 1978) and Pompeyo (2001). Café Prince, trained by future Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard, was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1985.
Free Look – Klaravich Stables’ Chad Brown-trained Free Look has the look of a top contender in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, a race her conditioner has won a record five times A blue-blooded daughter of Tapit, the $300,000 Keeneland September 2021 purchase will break from post four under Flavien Prat and was assigned a second-choice morning line of 5-1.
“She has a nice, cozy draw and getting back on firm turf is going to be key,” Brown said. “She is maybe not as brilliant as some of the other ones we’ve brought in – we’ve had some heavy favorites before in this race – but she compares favorably and certainly has a similar pattern coming out of the Miss Grillo and then coming into this race. She has a world-class jockey on her and she gives us some hope in a race that looks like it has several win candidates that she could spring an upset.”
Free Look was third on debut as the 5-2 favorite at Saratoga, but quickly made amends five weeks later on Sept. 4, easily winning in identical company by 2½ lengths and stamping herself as one to watch on the road to the Breeders’ Cup. She returned four weeks later to finish a game second by three-quarters of a length in the Miss Grillo over a yielding Aqueduct turf course. She has been stabled at Keeneland through a trio of breezes in October leading into Friday’s race.
G Laurie – Madaket Stables’ G Laurie galloped 1m Wednesday morning at Keeneland with exercise rider Jordan Thompson aboard after the filly shipped in early Tuesday morning to trainer Graham Motion’s Rice Road barn. G Laurie is entered in the Juvenile Fillies Turf on Friday following a third-place finish in the Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes at Woodbine where she ran into traffic coming down the stretch.
“She’s going to need a clean trip because these races are so competitive, and you have to get a clean trip to overcome the competition,” Motion said. “I think if she can run back to that race (her last start) and improve, there’s every reason she should be competitive. It’s just a little hard to gauge because that day (when she ran in the Natalma) she didn’t get to run her race.”
G Laurie will break from post 11 in the 14-horse field. She is a daughter of Oscar Performance and is among his first group of runners.
“I have two Oscar Performances and they don’t seem to be overly flashy in the morning,” Motion said. “They’re kind of workman-like and just keep improving. I think we’re probably going to see more and more of her as we go along.”
William Buick will have the mount Friday. It will be his first time aboard the filly.
Last Call – For a couple of reasons, Last Call is a bit different type of Breeders’ Cup horse. Purchased for $30,000 as a yearling at auction, she is one of the bargains of the 39th running of the World Championship. Last Call earned her berth in Friday’s Juvenile Filly Turf with a victory as a maiden in the Natalma, a “Win and You’re In” race at Woodbine in suburban Toronto.
Trainer Kevin Attard had three of the eight horses entered in the 1m Natalma. At 21-1, Last Call was the longest shot in the field. Under Rafael Hernandez, she made a four-wide move to the front and beat the favorite Cairo Consort by a length.
“I’d be lying to say I thought she was going to win,” Attard said. ”Obviously, we were trying. It was a Grade 1 in our backyard. We were hoping to get some graded placing for her.”
Attard said Last Call ran a nice race while finishing second in her debut and her connections expected her to break her maiden next start. She ended up fourth.
“She was a little bit disappointing that day. She was a little rank, in her race and wouldn’t settle early. We kind of went back to the drawing board. We took the blinkers off. We worked on kind of getting her to settle. I guess like most typical English Channels, she just continued to get better in the mornings in works.”
Well-known bloodstock agent Donato Lanni, who selected her out of the yearling sale and his X-Men Racing 2 partnership and SF Racing, asked Attard if it made sense to try her in the Natalma.
“The way she had trained, I said, ‘this filly is doing really doing well and I think she’s going to run well,’” Attard said. “Obviously, it was a pleasant surprise. She settled well that day, kind of kicked on when needed and held the rest at bay down the lane.”
Cleverly named Last Call, whose dam is Over Served, paid $44.30 in the Natalma. Lanni arranged for Frankie Dettori to ride her in the Breeders’ Cup. They drew post three and are 20-1 on the morning line.
“I couldn’t be happier with her,” Attard said. “She’s going in the right direction. I think she’s continuing to get better. I’m really excited about her. I think she’s a horse that is going to fly a bit under the radar, but she’s continuing to step up. In this race, she’s going to need to step up, but the way she’s training I couldn’t ask for more.”
Oxymore – Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Morris Bailey and William J. Rucker’sOxymore will be trainer Chad Brown’s 116th Breeders’ Cup starter, but the 15-time winner’s first in the Juvenile Turf Sprint. The gelded son of Australian star sprinter Astern will cut back from a loss last out in the 1m Nownownow Stakes at Monmouth Park and hopes to return to the form that saw him win his debut over 6f at Belmont and then Saratoga’s 51/2f Skidmore Stakes.
“He’s 2-for-2 around one turn, so I thought I would drop him back,” Brown said. “In his last race, he got a little late going two turns and was probably back a little quick. He had a tough race at Saratoga and it took a lot out of him. I don’t think he was up to running back, but it was such a big purse ($510,000), he was doing well and he was favored in the race. I tried and it didn’t work out.”
On Wednesday morning, Oxymore – 8-1 on the morning line – had an easy gallop with exercise rider Peter Leiva Roman in the irons. He then schooled in the paddock. Jose Ortiz rides on Friday from post seven of 12.
Pleasant Passage – Emory Hamilton’s homebred Pleasant Passage brings a perfect two-for-two mark into Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) for trainer Shug McGaughey.
She will mark only the second starter in the race for McGaughey, who has started 65 horses in the World Championships and had runners in 27 of the first 38 events.
“She got through on the inside in her debut at Saratoga and the logical progression was to go to the Miss Grillo,” McGaughey said of the daughter of Peaceful Passage, a filly he trained for Hamilton.
“In the Miss Grillo, she had the inside and no one went with her and Irad (Ortiz Jr.) took advantage,” McGaughey said.
Xigera – Rigney Racing’s Xigera shipped in from Churchill Downs Monday afternoon for an anticipated start in the Juvenile Fillies Turf Friday. The daughter of Nyquist galloped 1 1/2m Wednesday morning over a fast track at Keeneland with exercise rider Santos Rivera up for trainer Phil Bauer.
“All the work is done,” Bauer said. “We’re just trying to keep her happy and go into it the right way.”
This will be Bauer’s first Breeders’ Cup starter and Xigera’s second start here at Keeneland.
“We’re excited to be here, but we feel like we belong,” Bauer said. “We’re excited to run her. There are times, like the undercard race that we’re entered in, where we know that we’re swinging at it and hoping for the best, but we have a different feeling for her that she could be one of the horses to beat. Hopefully she runs to our beliefs and gets the job done. I’m excited for the owners and the whole team to finally reach the top. Hopefully we stick around.”
Xigera will break from post 13 on Friday under Julien Leparoux who has ridden the filly in all three of her starts. She has morning line odds of 8-1.
“With her running style I’m OK with it (the post position),” Bauer said. “Maybe if I had to choose one, I wouldn’t have chosen that. To be on the outside with tactical speed the biggest worry is getting hung out, but I think we should be able to work a trip from there.”
Xigera broke her maiden on the turf at Saratoga in August on her second attempt by 5 3/4 lengths. Her most recent start was a third-place finish in the Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland.
JUVENILE TURF SPRINT
Love Reigns – Trainer Wesley Ward will send out the Irish-bred filly Love Reigns as he seeks to win the Juvenile Turf Sprint for a Breeders’ Cup record fourth straight year.
Ward has been a dominant figure in the race. He finished second in the inaugural running in 2018 and has since won with Four Wheel Drive in the 2019; Golden Pal in 2020 and Twilight Gleaming last year at Del Mar. He has saddled 13 runners in the Juvenile Turf Sprint – Aidan O’Brien is next with four – has a 3-1-1 record and earnings of $1.9 million.
Stonestreet Stable’s Love Reigns proved herself to be a Juvenile Turf Sprint prospect with a win in Bolton Landing on Aug 21 at Saratoga. The Bolton Landing was her first start since finishing fourth, missing third by a nose, in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
“She’s very nice. We’re going to hook into a nice filly as well (The Platinum Queen) that’s came over who was second against the older horses in the Nunthorpe at York and win against older horses as a 2-year-old filly in the Prix de l’Abbaye on Arc Day.
“My filly is training very, very well. We’re going with similar tactic as we did with Twilight Gleaming where we got good spacing from Saratoga to now. Twilight Gleaming, we had a race in France that she won with Frankie (Dettori) up and then we gave her time and we ran her and she won the Breeders’ Cup last year. She’s going to have good spacing and she should run a really big race here at her home track as well.”
Irad Ortiz Jr., who was up on Ward’s three winners in this race, will ride Love Reigns from post two.
Sharp Aza Tack – R3 Racing’s Juvenile Turf Sprint contender Sharp Aza Tack galloped 1 1/8 m over Keeneland’s all-weather training track Wednesday morning with exercise rider Connor Murray aboard. The stakes-winning son of Sharp Azteca finished second in the Global Tote Juvenile Sprint Stakes at Kentucky Downs last time out for trainer Doug O’Neill after drifting out in the stretch.
“It’s a great racetrack at Kentucky Downs, but it is also a very unique oval,” O’Neill said. “I think there are a lot of turns and a lot of ups and downs so I think it (the drifting in the stretch) was just him following the course. He tried hard, ran good and came out of it good. We’re expecting a big effort from him. I think the conventional oval will do him good this weekend.”
The Juvenile Turf Sprint will be the colt’s first time running in a graded stakes race. He’s had three previous starts in total.
“He’s just super athletic,” O’Neill said. “He just looks like a racehorse. He’s very well balanced and he checks all the boxes of what a good racehorse looks like. He definitely hasn’t disappointed us.”
Sharp Aza Tack will break from post nine under Tyler Gaffalione on Friday.
Highfield Princess (Turf Sprint) was the first European contender to leave the quarantine barn Wednesday. Her race day jockey Jason Hart landed in Kentucky Tuesday and was on track to exercise her this morning on the training track.
“I’m very happy with her, nice and alert, she seems in good order,” Hart said. “We just had a canter round the training track. I think we’ve got a lovely draw in the gate, six. Obviously, Golden Pal is two away from us in eight and again looks like the one we all have to beat. It would be great to get a nice lead into the race off him and we’ll see how it goes. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The John and Thady Gosden duo Mishriff (Turf) and Nashwa (Filly & Mare Turf) were next out on the training track who both cantered a circuit. Mishriff was ridden by Pappu Deora and Nashwa by Benario Goncalves de Paiva.
John Gosden arrives in Kentucky today and will be on track tomorrow. Ted Voute, Racing Manger to Mishriff’s owner Prince Faisal was trackside to watch Mishriff exercise.
“Mishriff looks great, he traveled over very well and at this stage the team couldn’t be happier, Voute said. “John Gosden always guides us as to race plans and the Breeders’ Cup Turf has been on the agenda for a long time now. Saturday will be his final race before he goes to stud in France. He’s been a magnificent horse for Prince Faisal and the Gosden team, so it would be wonderful if he could go and win at the weekend.”
Mise En Scene (Filly & Mare Turf) did a strong canter over 7f under regular work rider Katie Webb. She wore cheekpieces for the first time this morning which she will wear in the race on Saturday.
Webb said, “Mise En Scene did a nice strong canter this morning and went very well. She took to the cheekpieces great, and I couldn’t be happier with her at this stage.”
Her trainer James Ferguson arrives in Kentucky tonight having flown from Australia where he saddled Deauville Legend to finish fourth in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday. James’ father John has been overseeing preparations and said, “She’s eaten up everything, Katie Webb who rides her every day is thrilled with her, she had a canter around the main track, lovely and settled and I think James will be very happy when he arrives tonight. The plan is for her to jump out of the gates tomorrow and it’s all systems go. From what I saw this morning she looked great to me.”
Chain Of Love (Filly & Mare Sprint) the sole Japanese runner breezed 5f in 1:01 4/5 over the fast main Keeneland track. Kate Hunter representing connections said, “She was quite lonely in quarantine when she first arrived but there’s now a pony keeping her company and she seems much happier. She breezed this morning which is usual for Japanese horses to do on a Wednesday before a weekend race. Her trainer Mr. (Michihiro) Ogasa was very pleased with what he saw. She is on a one-way ticket and will go to stud here in America.”
Aidan O’Brien’s seven horses once again had a canter on the main track. Ryan Moore was on track and rode Victoria Road (Juvenile Turf).
Moore said, “Everything went fine, it’s great to be back at the Breeders’ Cup and I’m looking forward to my rides over the two days.”
Aidan O’Brien said, “We love coming to Keeneland because the weather at this time of year can be very similar to ours. Everybody in Keeneland is totally horse minded, I suppose like we are back in Ireland. And obviously there’s a lot of Irish and English people here as well, so it’s nearly like being in Europe.
“Ryan rode Victoria Road. We think he could develop into a French Derby horse, but he has pace because he has very good form over six furlongs. You wouldn’t be bringing a seven-furlong colt or a mile colt that hasn’t ran short because he might get lost early.
“We thought he was a five or six-furlong horse. He’s from a fast, precocious pedigree, but it’s only when we started stepping him up that we started seeing a much better horse.
“Meditate (Juvenile Fillies Turf) has form which is right up there but we are stepping up in trip and we’re about to learn a lot about her.
“Tuesday (Filly & Mare Turf) she’s very well, she has a nice draw. She had a very bad draw in France, on very bad ground, and probably the two things weren’t ideal for her.
“Toy (Filly & Mare Turf) was just ready to start back when she won a Listed race at Naas. So, we were very happy with her, and we think she has been making very good progress since then.
“Stone Age (Turf) and Broome (Turf) take each other on in the Turf. Broome’s slow starts have cost him so many times, I can’t tell you. We’re trying to tweak things as we go so that it won’t happen.
“Order Of Australia (Mile) has been brought along with this race in mind, following a leg injury at this track last October. This has been his target all year, so it’s been gentle-gentle. We have been racing him to keep him competitive, but we haven’t been really turning the screw on him. That’s why he came to Keeneland last time, especially for this. His work regime and the intensity of it has ramped up all the time, every week. We were very happy with his last work.”
The Platinum Queen (Juvenile Turf Sprint) exercised on the turf but notably did not seem to handle the bend very well which is a slight concern.
Charlie Appleby’s horses were the last to leave quarantine this morning and all went on the turf track. Silver Knott (Juvenile Turf) led the string then each horse cantered separately.
After the exercise Appleby said, “That was perfect for today. At this stage I don’t think there’s any real standouts neither any I’m not pleased with. They all traveled over great, and all seem in good form. All the riders are happy so we’ll take it each day at a time, but I couldn’t be happier.