Edited Keeneland Staff Release — Trainer Saeed bin Suroor has not started a horse at Keeneland since Shuruq finished sixth in the 2014 Juddmonte Spinster (G1).
That will change Saturday when he saddles Godolphin’s Mawj (IRE) for the 40th running of the $600,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) Presented by Dixiana for 3-year-old fillies to be contested over a mile and an eighth over the turf.
“You have to send the right horse to run here,” bin Suroor said Wednesday morning after watching Mawj train on the main track.
In Mawj, he brings the winner of the One Thousand Guineas (G1) to Keeneland as a steppingstone to a possible start in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 4.
“This is the right place for her,” bin Suroor said. “This was the plan to come here and then go to the Breeders’ Cup. Either the Mile (G1) or the Filly and Mare Turf (G1). I want to see how she runs here and then on to L.A.”
Saturday’s race will be the first for Mawj since she defeated four-time Group 1 winner Tahiyra by a half-length on May 7 in England’s One Thousand Guineas.
“Mawj had a little chest infection before Ascot (in the summer) and she had a break,” bin Suroor said of the five months between starts.
Oisin Murphy, who was aboard Mawj for the first time in the One Thousand Guineas, has the mount here Saturday.
GRADE 1-WINNING MULTI-MILLIONAIRE ARKLOW
AMONG THOROUGHBRED MAKEOVER ENTRANTS
The 2023 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, will take place today through Saturday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Recently retired racehorses from across the U.S. will participate in the largest Thoroughbred retraining competition in the world in various disciplines including barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, jumping, polo, ranch work and freestyle. Keeneland is a major sponsor of the competition.
Of the 404entrants, the leading earner is Arklow with a $3,025,996 bankroll accrued during his seven-year career. Trained by Brad Cox for Donegal Racing, who purchased him from Penn Sales, agent, for $160,000 during Book 1 of the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, the 9-year-old son of Arch won the 2019 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) at Belmont Park and was sixth in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland. He made a total of six starts at Keeneland, scoring his initial career victory here in 2017 and closing his 39-race career with a ninth-place finish in the 2022 Sycamore (G3), a race in which he was second in 2018.
Gelded after he was retired from racing, Arklow will be ridden in the Makeover by Gina Gans in the field hunting division in which he will jump obstacles on the Horse Park’s grass steeplechase course.
Last year’s Makeover featured champion sprinter Whitmore and owner/rider Laura Moquett in the competitive trail division. Whitmore was a fan favorite at Keeneland with four starts in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2), including a win in 2017. Whitmore also won the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) here.
The Retired Racehorse Project created the Makeover to showcase the trainability and talent of off-the-track Thoroughbreds. The competition is intended to inspire trainers to become involved in transitioning these horses to second careers, while the National Symposium serves to educate the people involved in the care, training and sale of these horses to responsible owners.
Click here for more information about the Retired Racehorse Project and the Makeover.
ALVA STARR TOPS 21 NOMINATIONS FOR LEXUS RAVEN RUN
Dale Ladner’s Alva Starr, 8¾-length winner of the Prioress (G2) at Saratoga in her most recent start, headlines a roster of 21 fillies nominated to the 25th running of the $350,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2) to be run over 7 furlongs on the main track Oct. 21.
Trained by Brett Brinkman, Alva Starr has won three of five starts but has not raced beyond 6 furlongs.
Two Grade 1-winning fillies that have raced well beyond 6 furlongs are nominated to the race: Wonderland Racing Stables, Todd Cady, Tim Kasparoff and Ty Leatherman’s Ceiling Crusher and Katsumi Yoshida’s Defining Purpose.
Doug O’Neill trains Ceiling Crusher, who led all the way to win the $1 million Cotillion (G1) going 1 1/16 miles in her most recent start. Kenny McPeek trains Defining Purpose, winner of this spring’s Central Bank Ashland (G1) at 1 1/16 miles.
VERIFYING HEADLINES 18 NOMINEES TO PERRYVILLE
Westerberg Limited, Mrs. John Magnier, Jonathan Poulin, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Verifying, runner-up in the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) in his most recent start and runner-up in this spring’s Toyota Blue Grass (G1), tops a list of 18 3-year-olds nominated to the 15th running of the $250,000 Perryville (L) going 7 furlongs on the main track Oct. 21.
Trained by Brad Cox, Verifying also has a runner-up finish in the Champagne (G1) on his resume to go with a victory this summer in the Indiana Derby (G3) by a nose over Raise Cain, who also is nominated to the Perryville.
Also nominated for Cox is Qatar Racing’s Everso Mischievous, winner of the recent 7-furlong Harrods Creek at Churchill Downs.
ROOD & RIDDLE DOWAGER ATTRACTS 22 NOMINEES
The $300,000 Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3) attracted a roster of 22 fillies and mares for the 32nd running of the 1½-mile grass marathon to be run Oct. 22.
Chief among the nominees are the top three finishers from the recent Aristocrat Ladies Marathon Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs going 1 5/16 miles: Gary Broad’s Vergara, e Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ Transient (GB) and Wertheimer and Frere’s Sinfiltre.
Also nominated is Godolphin’s Eternal Hope (IRE), winner of the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational (G3) as the favorite going 1 3/8 miles.
Master of The Seas (IRE), runner-up by a nose in Saturday’s Coolmore Turf Mile (G1), will remain at Keeneland for another week, according to traveling lad Chris Connett. He said Breeders’ Cup plans for the Charlie Appleby trainee were to be determined. …
Trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer said that Sibelius, fifth as the third choice in last Friday’s Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2), likely would ship back to Florida and possibly aim for a repeat victory in the Mr. Prospector (G3) at the end of the year.
PROSPECTIVE FIELDS FOR UPCOMING STAKES
$350,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2), 3-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs on the main track (Entries taken Saturday; race is Saturday, Oct. 21) – Alva Starr (trainer Brett Brinkman), Lady Radler (Michael Campbell), Lily Poo (Michael McCarthy), Nom de Plume (Paulo Lobo), Simply Stated (Todd Beattie), Vahva (Cherie DeVaux).
$250,000 Perryville (L), 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs on the main track (Entries taken Saturday; race is Saturday, Oct. 21) – Dr. Venkman (Mark Glatt), Verifying (Brad Cox). Possible: Loyal Company (Brendan Walsh).
$300,000 Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3), 3-year-old and up fillies and mares, 1½ miles on the turf (Entries taken Sunday; race is Sunday, Oct. 22) – Be Up (Mike Maker), Henrietta Topham (Geoff Mulcahy), Romagna Mia (GB) (Graham Motion), Transient (GB) (Saffie Joseph Jr.), Vergara (Motion). Possible: Lovely Princess (Kenny McPeek).
KEENELAND VICTORIES NOW ON THEIR RESUMES
Sunday was a day of firsts at Keeneland as three jockeys and two trainers recorded notable victories at the track.
In Race 1, apprentice rider Matilda Burnham and trainer Bonnie Pittman each earned their first Keeneland victories when Rene Salgado’s Navy Soul won a 1 1/16-mile race by a half-length.
In Race 3, trainer Yoni Orantes recorded the first victory of his career in his 13th start when his Arella Star scored a front-running victory in a 6½-furlong race. She and jockey Luis Saez won at odds of 9-1 for Orantes, a former assistant to Ian Wilkes who sent out his first starter in July 2022.
In Race 8, Cristian Torres scored his first Keeneland victory when he rode J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Committee of One, trained by Steve Asmussen, to nose out favored Amidst Waves to capture the Indian Summer (L) Presented by Keeneland Select.
In Race 10, Francisco Arrieta earned his first Keeneland stakes victory – and tallied the first Grade 2 win of his career – when he rode 27-1 longshot Can Group to a nose triumph in the Castle & Key Bourbon. Mark Casse trains the winner for D.J. Stable and Cash Is King.
“This is beautiful,” Arrieta said after the performance. “I never thought I’d be riding at Keeneland and here I am and winning a Grade 2 – it’s amazing.”
Burnham described the thrill of winning at Keeneland.
“Oh, so excited,” she said. “Just to ride here I was really excited, but to win is phenomenal. I’m so excited to be here riding in Kentucky. It’s a dream come true.”