Edited Keeneland Staff Release — Godolphin’s Mawj (IRE), a half-sister to champion and two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Modern Games (IRE), headlines a field of 12 3-year-old fillies plus one also-eligible entered today for the 40th running of the $600,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana to be contested Oct. 14 at 1 1/8 miles over the Keeneland turf course.
Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Mawj will be making her North American debut in her first start since winning the Qipco One Thousand Guineas (G1) in May at Newmarket in England going a mile. She is undefeated in three races in 2023 with her first two victories coming at Meydan in the United Arab Emirates.
Oison Murphy has the mount on Mawj and will break from post 4.
Looming as a major threat to Mawj is LNJ Foxwoods, Ecurie Victoria Dreams, NK Racing and Anthony Munafo’s Elusive Princess (FR).
Nowtrained by Arnaud Delacour, Elusive Princess cruised to a 3¼-length victory as the favorite in the Saratoga Oaks Invitational (G3) on Aug. 4 in her North American debut. Group 1-placed in Europe this spring, Elusive Princess will exit post 2 and be ridden by Flavien Prat.
The field for the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, with riders from the inside out, is Mission of Joy (John Velazquez), Elusive Princess (FR) (Prat), Safeen (Cristian Torres), Mawj (IRE) (Murphy), Be Your Best (IRE) (Ricardo Santana Jr.), Lindy (FR) (Tyler Gaffalione), Sounds of Heaven (GB) (Shane Foley), Elounda Queen (IRE) (Luis Saez), Heavenly Sunday (Florent Geroux), Liguria (Joel Rosario), Prerequisite (Irad Ortiz Jr.), Papilio (IRE) (Javier Castellano). Also-Eligible: Freydis the Red (FR) (Brian Hernandez Jr.). All starters will carry 121 pounds.
CANDIED STAYS AT KEENELAND FOLLOWING
DARLEY ALCIBIADES TRIUMPH
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ undefeated Candied,whoarrived at Keeneland Tuesday from Saratoga, remained on the grounds Saturday morning following her 1-length victory in Friday’s Darley Alcibiades (G1).
With the victory, the first for trainer Todd Pletcher in the race, Candied earned a fees-paid berth into the $2 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) to be run at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.
Pletcher was at Churchill Downs Saturday morning overseeing his string there.
Five fillies have won the Darley Alcibiades and then gone on to win the Breeders’ Cup with the most recent coming last year when Wonder Wheel achieved the double.
Plansfor V V’s Dream, who just missed giving trainer Kenny McPeek a record-tying sixth Darley Alcibiades victory, are undecided.
GregTramontin’s Alys Beach, who set the pace and wound up third, remained at Keeneland after the race.
“She is still here and will go back to Churchill Downs, and we will go from there,” trainer Tom Amoss said. “I was surprised where she was (in the race). She is still learning.”
Trainer John Ortiz said “the Breeders’ Cup is not out of the question” for WSS Racing’s Brightwork, who finished fifth after stalking the pace set by Alys Beach.
The setback was the first in five races for the previously undefeated Brightwork, who won the Spinaway (G1) at Saratoga in her previous start.
“She’s doing good this morning, a little tired,” Ortiz said. “It was not her day yesterday. She was a little flat down the stretch, and that’s not like her.”
BUCHU RETURNS TO CHURCHILL FOLLOWING JESSAMINE
PRESENTED BY KEENELAND NOVEMBER VICTORY
Buchu, the last-to-first winner of Friday’s Jessamine (G2) Presented by Keeneland November, “is looking well this morning,” trainer Phil Bauer reported from Churchill Downs.
Last in the field of 11 going into the first turn, Buchu collared pacesetter Bella Haze near the eighth pole and drew off for a 3¾-length victory under Martin Garcia. The victory earned Buchu a fees-paid entry into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to be run at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.
Bred and owned by Rigney Racing, Buchu has won two of five races and would represent the second Breeders’ Cup starter for her trainer.
“Right now, nothing is set in stone for the next three weeks,” Bauer said of Buchu’s schedule leading up to the Breeders’ Cup.
Two Jessamine winners have gone on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf: Aunt Pearl (IRE) here in 2020 and Rushing Fall in 2017 at Del Mar.
STOLL KEENON OGDEN PHOENIX WINNER HOIST THE GOLD
CALIFORNIA-BOUND OCT. 30
Dream Team One Racing Stable’s Hoist the Gold returned to Churchill Downs Friday evening after his victory in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2).
With the victory, Hoist the Gold earned a fees-paid berth into the $2 million Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) to be run Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.
“He came back great,” said trainer Dallas Stewart, a two-time Breeders’ Cup winner. “The flight (to California) is the 30th.”
Two winners of the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix have gone on to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in the same year: Runhappy here in 2015 and Work All Week in 2014 at Santa Anita.
SAEZ BIDS FOR UNIQUE DOUBLE
Luis Saez, one of 10 riders to achieve a Darley Alcibiades/Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity double, has an opportunity this afternoon to become the first rider to double the double in the Grade 1 races for 2-year-olds.
Saez first swept both races in 2020 with Simply Ravishing in the Darley Alcibiades and eventual champion Essential Quality in Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. This afternoon, he will ride The Wine Steward in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. He piloted Candied to victory in Friday’s Darley Alcibiades.
BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC HOPEFUL PROXY AMONG SATURDAY WORKERS
Godolphin’s Proxy began the Kentucky phase of his preparation for an expected start in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 4 by working 5 furlongs in 1:01 for trainer Mike Stidham.
In other Saturday works …
Working over a turf course labeled as good were Franklin (G2) nominees Twilight Gleaming (IRE) (5 furlongs in 1:00.80) and Playlist (1:01) for trainer Wesley Ward. Working half-miles on the turf were Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana entrants Papilio (IRE) (:48.40) for trainer Mark Casse and Heavenly Sunday (:49.40) for trainer Brad Cox.
PROSPECTIVE FIELD FOR UPCOMING STAKES
$350,000 Franklin (G2) – 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 5½ furlongs on turf (Entries taken Sunday; race Sunday, Oct. 15): Bay Storm (Jonathan Thomas), Caravel (Brad Cox), Playlist (Wesley Ward), Star Guest (GB) (Charlie Appleby), Tony Ann (Phil D’Amato), Twilight Gleaming (IRE) (Ward), Wakanaka (IRE) (Bill Mott). Possible: Top Gun Girl (Ward).