HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, September 27, 2023 — The temptation is to call the upcoming weekend a veritable feast of Breeders’ Cup preps but after consulting the calendar, glut would be the more appropriate term.
By our count, there are an even dozen Breeders’ Cup Win-And-In offerings from West to East to Europe and that excludes two handfuls of stakes in Arcadia in preparation for November 3-4.
Oh, did we forget to mention that the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will be contested Sunday at Longchamp?
Of course, this event is the show, not a way-stop, although it would be cool if some European sportsman wanted to pull an Enable out of his hat and show up for a Breeders’ Cup XL run. Meanwhile, five other stakes are Breeders’ Cup Challenge events.
The Belmont Park and Churchill Downs fall meets have significant events this weekend. In Queens, Aqueduct will host the G1 Woodward and G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Louisville will stage, among others, the G3 Ack Ack and G2 Lukas Classic.
A handicapping look-in on some of these events, starting at Aqueduct:
BELMONT AT AQUEDUCT: The G2 Gallant Bloom begins an all-graded stakes Pick 3 beginning with the fifth at Aqueduct where the speed and class of Caramel Swirl (1-1) should prevail at the hybrid 6-1/2 furlong distance.
In fact, her last win came at this trip at Belmont in May, she finished third to sprint champion Goodnight Olive after taking the lead into the stretch.
Two months later she tried Grade 1 company but was no match for Echo Zulu–no one has this year–while making a challenge while racing very wide. The table should be set for a winning pocket trick.
Position and trips will determine the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic outcome and the two most accomplished horses come with question marks:
War Like Goddess (5-2) hasn’t been the same filly at 6, unable to flash her considerable late kick but her last in the Glens Falls was more like it. Junior Alvarado takes over for Joel Rosario and she gets a 3-pound sex allowance against males. Does she improve again?
Hopefully, Breeders’ Cup Turf champion Rebel’s Romance (9-5) has a short memory. The last time he was clipping heels and losing his rider in Saratoga’s Bowling Green.
Freshened two months over there, Charles Appleby brings him back to the US for his Turf prep, the Joe Hirsch is his race to lose as he tries to improve his turf record at the trip to 6-for-7. William Buick gets the ride back.
Soldier Rising (5-1), Stone Age (6-1) and Adhamo (10-1) all have a puncher’s chance. Caution is the buy-word if the track comes up sloppy.
The Woodward--whose history will always shout Grade 1–features another European invader. Freshened since his runnerup finish in the Dubai World Cup, Algiers’ (6-1) connections want to know if the gelded 6-year-old likes American dirt as much as he fancies the Middle East variety. If he does, he wins.
Canadian-based Tyson (5-1) , meanwhile, is most interesting. After four wins on All-Weather, he made his dirt debut at Saratoga where he finished third in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup after getting sloughed at the start. Josie Carroll gives the ride to Javier Castellano.
CHURCHILL DOWNS Jefferson Cup Stakes — It appears to be an east lift to the all stakes Pick 3. Don’t you hate that? Traps R Us. But, really, More Than Looks (5-2) is going to be a very tough out. A Grade 3 winner at today’s trip, he’s run consistently faster on the Thoro Graph scale and needs no made to order conditions. His three wins came over three disparate courses.
Ocean Pointe (6-1) is unproven in stakes company but that can be amended quickly here. A sharp, fast winner of his last, he’s won half his four starts at today’s distance and, unlike the favorite, has the benefit of a winning race over the course.
Noises Off (7-2) broke his maiden emphatically at the distance last out at Kentucky Downs for turf ace Paulo Lobo and attracts Mr. Downs–Tyler Gaffalione here.
Mike Maker saddles two in here, to be avoided at your peril. Worthington (20-1) has been freshened and recycled, has been working very well at Ellis for this and attracts Julien who has awakened at this meet.
Stablemate Gaslight Dancer (6-1) has been victimized by tough trips this season and distributes his energy well; retribution day?
G3 ACK ACK: The CD bean counters will love this one, a spread race if there ever was one. With seven entrants, the ALL button could come in handy. Gun to head, we’re primarily interested in posts 1 through 5, a blend of horsemen looking to see what they have and those using this as a bridge to the BC Dirt Mile;
Three Technique (3-1) and Zozos (6-5) leap to mind. Can they win at 80-90% percent? Probably but no need to find out at short prices. We may run out of bullets here but, gun to head, Stage Raider (6-1) looks like most probable upsetter, if speed holds, O Besos worth a look if it doesn’t. Seize the Night (12-1) is the potential price shot.
G2 LUKAS CLASSIC: It seems to us that Rattle N Roll (7-5) hardly ever wins when he’s supposed to, such as in Saturday’s BC Classic prep. The pace and probably the surface and the company was against him in the G1 JCGC at Saratoga–and the trip didn’t help any.
But, today, however, the table should be better set for his rally and he does have an affinity for this surface. Time to show up; no more excuses. But this entire field will have something to say. From the rail, out:
Happy American (8-1), like the favorite, is 3-for-6 on this ground. Clapton (6-1) has improved with virtually every start since GP’s 2022-23 championship meet and was recently purchased. Warrant (8-1) comes out of Ellis’ Governor’s Cup, a key event producing three next out winners.
Trademark (12-1) is 3-for-4 at Churchill. Blue Devil (20-1) was a killer at the Spa. Whelan Springs (12-1) scratched on Pa Derby day to await this. Five Star General (15-1) also exits the key Governor’s Cup, has the right spacing and blew out sharply.
Americanrevolution (5-2) looked badly in need of his 5-year-old debut in Saratoga after a stumbling start. Todd would not have shipped here if big improvement weren’t in the offing, and would Tyler have accepted the mount of there weren’t a story to go along with that effort?
China Horse Club and Winstar Farm have not given up on this guy, the 2021 Cigar Mile winner having but four starts in the two years since. So, in Todd do we trust?
Double Sawbuck Down
Here’s a down and dirty look at today’s late Pick 5 at Santa Anita which includes three Grade 2s and a Grade 1. The following is what our sequence looks like, the vertical leans, our ‘A’ choices, in bold italics:
The sequence begins with Race 6: 2 // 188.8.131.52.11 // 184.108.40.206 // 2.6 // 4 = $20 [can’t say you weren’t warned something like this might happen]
this is a live column and will be updated