Edited Keeneland Staff Release — One of the most visually impressive performances of the 2021 Keeneland Fall Meet was the dash to victory by California Angel in the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2).
Twelfth in a field of 13 at the top of the stretch, California Angel rallied eight-wide in the middle of the track to win by a head and earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Del Mar.
California Angel, who is owned by Chris Walsh and trained by George Leonard III, returned to Keeneland Thursday morning for a start in Saturday’s 39th running of the $600,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana for 3-year-old fillies to be contested at 1 1/8 miles on the grass.
“We were honored to be invited,” Leonard said of California Angel, who finished third in the Dueling Grounds Oaks (L) going 1 5/16 miles at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 5 in her most recent start.
In the Breeders’ Cup going a mile, California Angel drew post 14. She finished 11th but only 4 lengths behind the winner, Pizza Bianca.
“It was a tough day,” Leonard said. “She got bounced around and didn’t get a good trip. It was one of those races that you would like to run over and get a whole different outcome.”
California Angel spent the winter at Fair Grounds in New Orleans and got a break after running second in the Allen Black Cat LaCombe Memorial in her return to the grass.
“She had a tough campaign as a 2-year-old and she deserved a little time off,” said Leonard, who did not bring her back to the races for nearly six months.
“I was very pleased with her race at Kentucky Downs. She was bottled up down on the inside and I wish she could have gotten outside a little more.”
Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard California Angel for her first four starts that included the victory here, has the mount Saturday and will break from post one.
“She’s trained very well since her last race,” Leonard said. “After this, she will probably go back to Fair Grounds and see how things go.”
BREEDERS’ CUP WORK TAB
Klaravich Stables’ Free Look, runner-up in the Miss Grillo (G2) in her most recent start on Oct. 1 during the Belmont at the Big A meet, worked a half-mile in :49.80 over a fast track Friday morning. Trained by Chad Brown, Free Look is a candidate for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to be run here Nov. 4.
Free Look worked in company with two-time Grade 3 winner Dolce Zel (FR). Owned by the partnership of Madaket Stable, Michael Dubb, Robert LaPenta and Michael J. Caruso, Dolce Zel is under consideration for the $300,000 Rubicon Valley View (G3) to be run here Oct. 28. …
Another horse under Breeders’ Cup consideration working this morning was D. J. Stable’s Webslinger, who breezed 5 furlongs in 1:02. Trained by Mark Casse, Webslinger won the Nownownow Stakes at Monmouth in his most recent start and is a candidate for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) to be run here Nov. 4.
Also on Friday, Grade 2 winner and multiple graded stakes-placed Spielberg worked 5 furlongs in company in 1:03.20 for trainer Jonathan Thomas.
Fifth in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita on May 30 in his most recent start, Spielberg joined the Thomas barn at Monmouth last month.
“He is obviously a talented horse and he came to us in good shape,” Thomas said. “He’s probably not going to be ready until Churchill. We are just getting to know him.”
The Churchill Downs Fall Meet begins Oct. 30.
BEST TURNED-OUT AWARDS CONTINUE FRIDAY
Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards (TIEA), being presented today at Keeneland, are sponsoring Best Turned-Out Awards to recognize the grooms of racehorses determined to have the best overall appearance. The awards will be presented for each of the 10 races today.
Judges like to see horses with shiny hair, flowing tails and tidy manes and grooms wearing neat clothing. TIEA representatives will judge the horses in the Saddling Paddock prior to each race and present a $300 cash prize to the winning groom.
Presented by Godolphin, TIEA recognize and reward the outstanding talent, diligence and commitment of the farm and racing stable staff. The awards cover seven categories: Dedication to Breeding, Dedication to Racing, Leadership, Administration, Newcomer, Support Services and Community.
Three finalists are recognized in six categories and a total of $122,000 in prize money is awarded.
Best Turned-Out Awards will continue on selected days throughout the Fall Meet.
UPCOMING STAKES PROBABLES
$350,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2), 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs (entries taken Wednesday, Oct. 19; race Saturday, Oct. 22) – ColorfulMischief (trainer Todd Pletcher), Fingal’s Cave (David Donk), Last Leaf (Eddie Kenneally), Midnight Stroll (John Terranova), Republique (Saffie Joseph Jr.), Smash Ticket (Rob Atras), Union Lake (Terranova), Wicked Halo (Steve Asmussen). Possible: Desert Dawn (Phil D’Amato).
$250,000 Perryville (L), 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs (entries taken Wednesday, Oct. 19; race Saturday, Oct. 22) – Artorius (Chad Brown), BDawk (Doug O’Neill), Gunite (Steve Asmussen), Hoist the Gold (Dallas Stewart), Nabokov (Brown), Of a Revolution (Saffie Joseph Jr.), Pinehurst (Brendan Walsh), Provocateur (Todd Pletcher).
$300,000 Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3), fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1½ miles on the turf (entries taken Thursday, Oct. 20; race Sunday, Oct. 23) – Core Values (Vicki Oliver), Luck Money (Arnaud Delacour), Mia Martina (Graham Motion), Sister Otoole (Motion), Stand Tall (Rusty Arnold), Temple City Terror (Brendan Walsh). Possible: Virginia Joy (GER) (Chad Brown).