HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, October 7, 2021 – At last, the third and final huge weekend of Breeders’ Cup Championship Series events which coincides with Friday’s Keeneland Fall opener.
The lid-lifter features a sprint prep, the Grade 2 Phoenix and the prestigious Grade 1 Alcibiades, a gateway to the BC Juvenile Fillies. This two-turn 1-1/16 miles is always a handicapping challenge and this year is no exception.
Saturday will feature three Grade 1s and a Grade 2, the Breeders’ Futurity for the boys and two one mile turf preps for both sexes, the First Lady, and the always highly competitive Keeneland Turf Mile.
Sunday brings down the curtain on opening weekend with two grass races for juveniles: sprinters going in the 5-1/2 furlong Indian Summer and the two-turn Grade 2 Bourbon. The day’s showpiece is the storied G1 Spinster for the distaffers.
New Yorkers need not fret. The Grade 2 Vosburgh for sprinting 3-year-olds and up, the Grade 3 Matron for juvenile fillies, and the day’s centerpiece, the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
On Sunday, the baby boys will get their turf licks in with the Grade 3 Futurity.
Seven sprinters entered Friday’s Stoll Keenon Phoenix. Early line favorite Special Reserve (9-5) is going to be a very tough customer, having recently stared down all but Lexitonian in Saratoga’s G1 Vanderbilt. This is easier, but not by much.
In the Alcibiades, four of the juveniles have prior experience around two turns. Three have won and the other finished second. In all, three of the 12 entered have the caught eye.
We suggest that interested bettors check out Juju’s Liam maiden win at Ellis, Metareya’s 6-1/2 furlong winning debut, also at the Pea Patch, and Penny Saver’s maiden breaker at Churchill.
We have mixed feelings given the quality of competition and the field size of Monmouth’s Sorority, but will not sell Runup short since she’s undefeated in two dirt starts since adding blinkers.
A-B-C Grade for Friday’s Keeneland stakes:
G2 PHOENIX STAKES Race 8
A: 6-Special Reserve (9-5)
B: 5-Aloha West (3-1)
C: 2-Mucho (6-1), Just Might (9-2), 3-Endorsed (6-1)
G1 ALCIBIADES STAKES Race 9
A: 1-Juju’s Map (5-2), 10-Penny Saver (4-1), 7-Matareya (4-1)
B: 6-Mama Rina (12-1), 8-Distinctlypossible (8-1)
C: 3-Sequist (30-1), 12-Runup (12-1)
BELMONT PARK Saturday
G2 VOSBURGH STAKES Race 5
A: 5-Following Sea (9-2), 4-Firenze Fire (8-5), 3-Baby Yoda (7-5)
B: 1-Jalen Journey (7-2)
G3 MATRON STAKES Race 6
A: 4-Lady Danae (6-1), 7-Bubble Rock (7-2), 3-Mystic Eyes (6-1)
B: 1-Poppy Flower (10-1), 8-Chi Town Lady (4-1)
C: 6-Makin My Move (8-1)
G1 JOE HIRSCH TURF CLASSIC Race 7
A: 3-Gufo (8-5), 7-Japan (5-2)
B: 4-Rockemperor (10-1), 2-Arklow (6-1)
C: 6-Channel Maker (6-1)
G2 WOODFORD STAKES Race 6
A: 6-Extravagant Kid (5-2), 2-Golden Pal (4-5)
B: 4-Firecrow (9-2)
C: 3-Inhalation (30-1)
G2 THOROUGHBRED CLUB OF AMERICA STAKES Race 7
A: 4-Estilo Talentoso (5-2), Bell’s the One (7-5)
B: 3-Inthemidstofbiz (10-1), 1-Frank’s Rockette (5-2)
GI FIRST LADY STAKES Race 8
A: 3-Althiqua (7-2), 8-Harvey’s Lil Goil (6-1)
B: 7-Daddy Is a Legend (12-1)
C: 9-Blowout (8-1), 10-Princess Grace (6-1), 11-Dalika (12-1), 1-Abscond (30-1)
G1 BREEDERS’ FUTURITY Race 9
A: 9-Great Escape (8-1), 13-Classic Causeway (5-1), 1-Double Thunder (4-1)
B: 7-American Sanctuary (12-1)
C: 5-Don’t Wait Up (9-2), 3-Stellar Tap (9-2)
G1 KEENELAND TURF MILE Race 10
A: 10-Order of Australia (7-2), 7-Pixilate (9-2)
B: 6-Ivar (5-1)
C: 4-Space Traveller (6-1)
When multiple horses are listed, preference goes from left to right. Grades can be adjusted, up or down, but only one level.
This is a live column, will be upgraded regularly