The following appeared in The Paulick Report October 25th.
Led by defending Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and the world’s all-time leading money earner ARROGATE, Whitney and Suburban winner GUN RUNNER, Longines Distaff standout STELLAR WIND, defending Longines Turf winner HIGHLAND REEL (IRE), Juddmonte International winner ULYSSES (IRE) and Filly & Mare Turf star LADY ELI, an all-star international cast of 187 of the world’s best Thoroughbreds, including a record 46 from overseas, have been pre-entered for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
The 34th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious two-day global event, consisting of 13 Grade 1 races with purses and awards totaling more than $28 million, will be held for the first time at the Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 3 and Saturday, Nov. 4. There will be four Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Friday and nine Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Saturday.
The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live by NBCSN and NBC. The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic will be broadcast live on Sat., Nov. 4 at 5:35 p.m. PT/8:35 p.m. ET on NBC (8-9 p.m. ET).
Among the statistical highlights in this year’s pre-entries are that a total of seven races are oversubscribed with more than 14 horses, and more than 12 in the Turf Sprint. There are 50 horses who have qualified for automatic starting positions through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series that have been pre-entered. Aidan O’Brien has pre-entered 14 horses, the most among trainers, one more than Chad Brown. The Coolmore partnerships lead all owners with 14 horses pre-entered.
This year’s Breeders’ Cup features nine returning or former champions: Arrogate, Highland Reel, Drefong, Oscar Performance, Lady Eli, Champagne Room, Queen’s Trust, Finest City and Mongolian Saturday.
The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, the climactic event of the Championships, will be run on the main track at 1 ¼ miles with a first-place owner’s prize of $3.3 million with purse payouts down to eighth place.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has pre-entered five horses for the Classic, which would be a record for a Breeders’ Cup trainer if all start, breaking the mark of three each for Bill Mott in 2012 and the late Bobby Frankel in 1993. Baffert, who has 14 Breeders’ Cup wins, will be shooting for his fourth consecutive Classic, having trained the last three winners with Bayern, American Pharoah and Arrogate.
Juddmonte Farm’s 4-year-old Arrogate defeated California Chrome in a dramatic finish in the 2016 Classic at Santa Anita and was later voted Champion 3-year-old male, and was named the Longines World’s Best Racehorse. This year Arrogate rolled to consecutive victories in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and the Dubai World Cup (G1), which made him Thoroughbred racing’s all-time money earner, now with $17,302,600. But since returning from Dubai, the gray son of 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled’s Song has two lost two straight races, finishing fourth at 1-20 odds in the San Diego (G2) at Del Mar in July and second there Aug. 19 to stablemate COLLECTED in the TVG Pacific Classic (G1). Arrogate, ridden by all-time Breeders’ Cup winning jockey Mike Smith, will try to win the Classic in consecutive years, which has only been achieved by Tiznow in 2000-2001.
Speedway Stable’s Collected, 8 of 11 lifetime, went wire to wire over Arrogate in the Pacific Classic to earn a “Win and You’re In” berth into the Classic. The 4-year-old son of City Zip has won all four of his starts this year with victories in Santa Anita’s Californian (GII) in April and Precisionist (GIII) in June.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s 5-year-old MUBTAAHIJ (IRE) earned a Classic berth with his win in Santa Anita’s “Win and You’re In” Awesome Again (GI) Sept. 30. A son of Dubawi (IRE), who has been with trainers Mike De Kock and Kiaran McLaughlin, has peaked under Baffert, and is a much- improved horse than the one who was a distant fourth behind Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup. Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s CUPID, winner of the Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita, has also been pre-entered by Baffert as a second choice with the Dirt Mile as first preference.
Baffert’s fifth pre-entry for the Classic is the front-running 3-year-old WEST COAST for owners Gary and Mary West. West Coast, who has emerged as a clear divisional leader off lopsided Grade I wins in Saratoga’s Travers in August and Parx Racing’s Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 23. The son of Flatter is 6-for-8 lifetime.
Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s GUN RUNNER finished second to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup, but has ascended to the top of the division since then, reeling off consecutive Grade 1 wins starting with Churchill Downs’ “Win and You’re In” Stephen Foster in June. He followed that win with a big score in Saratoga’s Whitney, another Classic “Win and You’re In” in August, and will enter off a dominant 10 ¼-length victory in the Woodward on Sept. 2. Trained by Steve Asmussen, who saddled Curlin to victory in the 2007 Classic, Gun Runner is a 4-year-old son of Candy Ride (ARG) who is 10-for-17 overall, but is 0-for-3 at 1 ¼ miles.
Lauren and Ralph Evans’ front-running 4-year-old New York bred DIVERSIFY earned the last of seven automatic berths into the Classic when he won the Win and You’re In” Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park for trainer Rick Violette. Paul Reddam’s PAVEL was a close third in the Gold Cup and will also head to the Classic for trainer Doug O’Neill, as will Peacock Racing Stable’s deep closer GUNNEVERA, who was second in the Travers for trainer Antonio Sano and won the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream back in March.
Aidan O’Brien has pre-entered two for the Classic, beginning with Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s CHURCHILL (IRE). The bay son of Galileo scored back-to-back Group 1 wins in the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, and was runner-up stretching to 1 5/16 miles in the Juddmonte International (G1) at York before a seventh-place finish in the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (G1). Churchill, who has a second preference in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, finished second in the one-mile Queen Elizabeth II (G1) last Saturday at Ascot. O’Brien’s other Classic pre-entry is Andrew Rosen, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s Kentucky-bred WAR DECREE, who won the 10.5-furlong Koffy Diamond Stakes (G3) on the all-weather surface at Dundalk on Sept. 29.
Donegal Racing and Calumet Farm’s KEEN ICE, who was third in the Classic last year for trainer Todd Pletcher and defeated Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh in the 2015 Travers Stakes, has also been pre-entered.
On Championship Friday, Hronis Racing’s STELLAR WIND will hope the third time’s the charm when she headlines the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff at 1 1/8 miles. The 5-year-old daughter of Curlin was second in the Distaff at Keeneland in 2015 and fourth at Santa Anita last year for trainer John Sadler, but has taken her game to a new level and will enter undefeated in three Grade I starts this year. Stellar Wind, 10 of 15 lifetime, won the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park in April, the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita in June and then earned a berth for the Distaff with her win in the “Win and You’re In” Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar July 30.
Charles Fipke’s homebred FOREVER UNBRIDLED qualified automatically for the Distaff with her victory in Churchill Downs’ “Win and You’re In” Fleur de Lis (GII) in June, then won Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Personal Ensign (GI) over last year’s 3-year-old filly champion Songbird on Aug. 26. The 4-year-old daughter of 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled’s Song was third in the Distaff last year for trainer Dallas Stewart, and, like Stellar Wind, has clearly developed into a much more finished product this year.
G. Watts Humphrey’s homebred ROMANTIC VISION earned a berth into the Distaff by taking the Juddmonte Spinster (GI) at Keeneland for trainer Rusty Arnold.
Pamela and Martin Wygod and Steven Sarkowsky’s PARADISE WOODS earned a Distaff berth when she was victorious in Santa Anita’s “Win and You’re In” Zenyatta (GI) Sept. 30 for trainer Richard Mandella and looms a dangerous front runner. The 3-year-old daughter of Union Rags won the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) by 11 ¾ lengths, but had two subpar performances when 11th in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) and sixth at 1-5 in her return in Del Mar’s Torrey Pines (GIII) in August.
Other 3-year-olds that will garner plenty of support, are China Horse Club and Clearsky Farm’s ABEL TASMAN and Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s homebred ELATE. Abel Tasman surged to the division lead off a trio of Grade I wins this year in the Kentucky Oaks, Belmont Park’s Acorn and Saratoga’s Coaching Club American Oaks for trainer Bob Baffert, and will enter off a second-place finish in Parx Racing’s Cotillion (GI) Sept. 23. The Bill Mott-trained Elate was beaten by a head in the Coaching Club American Oaks, but then dominated the Alabama by 5½ lengths and was even more brilliant defeating older fillies and mares in the Beldame (G1) at Belmont by more than eight lengths. Tommy Town Thoroughbreds’ IT TIZ WELL upset Abel Tasman in the Cotillion for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is also pre-entered. Ciaglia Racing’s CHAMPAGNE ROOM, who won the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last year at Santa Anita for trainer Peter Eurton, and a recent winner of the Remington Park Oaks, has also been pre-entered.
The U.S.-based horses have won five of the last six renewals of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile and could add to that run this year, as Live Oak Plantation’s homebred WORLD APPROVAL takes on a bevy of European Group 1 winners. Trained by Mark Casse, the 5-year-old son of Northern Afleet has won four of five starts this year. He most recently won Saratoga’s Fourstardave (GI) in August, and then earned a berth into the Mile with his win in the “Win and You’re In” Ricoh Woodbine Mile (GI) Sept. 16.
George Turner and Clipper Logistics’ SUEDOIS (FR) was an upset winner of the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 7, and earned a berth into the Mile for trainer David O’Meara. The 6-year-old son of Le Havre (IRE) entered off a win in the Boomerang (GII) at Leopardstown on Sept. 9. Calumet Farm’s BAL A BALI (BRZ) secured a berth into the Mile when he won Santa Anita’s “Win and You’re In” Shoemaker Mile (GI) in June for trainer Richard Mandella.
Godolphin’s RIBCHESTER (IRE) has been Europe’s top miler this year, with three Group 1 wins in six starts. The 4-year-old son of Iffraaj (GB) won the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May, the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot in June and the Qatar Prix du Moulin at Chantilly Sept. 10 for trainer Richard Fahey. Ribchester finished second by one length in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last Saturday. Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar’s DECORATED KNIGHT (GB) earned a berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf when he won the “Win and You’re In” QIPCO Irish Champion (GI) Sept. 9, but trainer Roger Charlton has pre-entered the 5-year-old son of Galileo into the Mile as his first choice after running in primarily middle distance races in Europe most of the year.
In contrast to American success in the Mile, the Europeans have won seven of the last nine runnings of the 1 ½-mile, $4 million Longines Turf. Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s front running Highland Reel is the defending champion. A Group 1 winner on three continents, the 5-year-old son of Galileo led the Turf from start to finish last year. He has bankrolled more than $8.8 million in his 25-race career, which leads all of the 20 horses pre-entered for the Turf. This year, Highland Reel won the Investec Coronation Cup (G1) at Sandown and the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot. However, he comes into this year’s race off a fourth-place finish in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1), and a third-place finish in last Saturday’s QIPCO Champions Stakes (G1) at 1 ¼ miles.
Sir Michael Stoute has won the Breeders’ Cup Turf four times and could make it a fifth score with Flaxman Stable’s (Niarchos Family) homebred ULYSSES (IRE). The 4-year-old son of Galileo (IRE), who finished fourth in last year’s Turf at Santa Anita, won the 1 ¼ mile Coral-Eclipse (G1) at Sandown in June, and earned a berth into this year’s Turf when he won York’s “Win and You’re In” Juddmonte International (GI) in August. In his last two starts, Ulysses was second to Enable in Ascot’s “Win and You’re In” King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (GI) in July and third to her in Chantilly’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (GI) Oct. 1.
Three American runners earned automatic berths into the Turf this year, headlined by James Covello, Sheep Pond Partners and Head of Plains Partners’ BEACH PATROL for trainer Chad Brown. The 4-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid won the “Win and You’re In” Arlington Million (GI) in August to earn a berth, then was even more impressive winning the 1 ½-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (GI) at Belmont Park by five lengths on Sept. 30. Woodslane Farm’s homebred SADLER’S JOY rallied from last to win Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Sword Dancer (GI) in August for trainer Tom Albertrani. Michael House’s HUNT (IRE) won the “Win and You’re In” Del Mar Handicap (G2) in August, but finished seventh in the John Henry Turf Championship (G2) on Oct. 17 to Red Baron’s Barn 5-year-old gelding ITSINTHEPOST. Amerman Racing’s 3-year-old OSCAR PERFORMANCE, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner, earned back-to-back Grade 1 victories by taking the Belmont Derby in July and the Secretariat at Arlington Park in August.
Lady Eli’s Swan Song Could Result in Filly & Mare Turf Win
One of the remarkable stories of Thoroughbred racing last year was the return to greatness of Sheep Pond Partner’s LADY ELI, who battled a life-threatening case of laminitis in 2015 and came back to the races and finished second, beaten a nose, in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita. In her last career race before being sold at the Keeneland November sale, she returns to the $2 million, 1 1/8-mile Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf off three consecutive wins for trainer Chad Brown. The 5-year-old daughter of Divine Park, who won the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, captured the Gamely (GI) at Santa Anita in May and Diana (GI) at Saratoga in July and the Ballston Spa (GII) at Saratoga Aug. 26.
Lady Eli’s challengers from Europe are quite formidable this year, including two Aidan O’Brien-trained 3-year-old fillies of the Coolmore connections in RHODODENDRON (IRE), who took the “Win and You’re In” Prix de l’Opera (G1) at Chantilly, and the Kentucky-bred ROLY POLY, who was an impressive winner of the Sun Chariot Stakes (G1) at Newmarket on Oct. 7. Other Group 1 winners from Europe include Flaxman Holdings’ SENGA, who claimed the Prix de Diane Longines in June, and Pretty Polly Stakes winner NEZWAAH (GB) for trainer Roger Varian. Defending champion QUEEN’S TRUST (GB), winless in five starts this year, has also been pre-entered.
In addition to Lady Eli, the American contingent is led by Ramona Bass’ 5-year-old mare AVENGE, who was third in the Filly & Mare Turf last year and won her first race from three starts of 2017 when she earned a berth into the Filly & Mare Turf while defending her title in Santa Anita’s “Win and You’re In” Rodeo Drive (GI) Sept. 30 for trainer Richard Mandella. Joe Allen’s homebred WAR FLAG automatically or the Filly & Mare Turf when she took the “Win and You’re In” Flower Bowl (G1) at Belmont Park on Oct. 7 for trainer Shug McGaughey. Also in contention is Sheep Pond Partners and Peter Bradley’s DACITA (CHI), who earned a berth when she won Arlington Park’s “Win and You’re In” Beverly D. (GI) in August for trainer Chad Brown. An intriguing pre-entry from South America is Teneri Farms’ 3-year-old filly BIRDIE GOLD, a winner of 4 of 5 career starts, including the “Win and You’re In’ Gran Premio Pamplona at Monterricco in Lima, Peru on June 25. Now under the care of trainer Gary Mandella in the U.S., Birdie Gold is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Birdstone.
Bolt d’Oro Leads Juvenile Runners, while Moonshine Memories Tops Juvenile Fillies
Owner and trainer Mick Ruis’ has the undefeated BOLT D’ORO in prime position as the likely favorite in the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run at 1 1/16 miles. The 2-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro earned a berth into the race when he won Santa Anita’s “Win and You’re In” FrontRunner (GI) by a widening 7 ¾ lengths Sept. 30. Bolt d’Oro won his first two career starts at Del Mar, having broken his maiden over the track in August before returning the following month to win the Del Mar Futurity (GI).
Albaugh Family Stable’s FREE DROP BILLY emerged as the top juvenile from the center of the nation when he qualified for the race with a sharp four-length win in the “Win and You’re In” Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) on Oct. 7. The chestnut son of Union Rags also won Sanford Stakes at Saratoga (G3) in July, and was runner-up in the Hopeful (G1) in September. Mr Amore Stable’s homebred FIRENZE FIRE also qualified automatically for the Juvenile when he closed to win Belmont Park’s one-turn “Win and You’re In” Champagne (GI) for trainer Jason Servis. The son of Poseidon’s Warrior is 3-for-4 lifetime, including a win over Free Drop Billy in the Sanford. Carolyn Wilson’s THE TABULATOR won Churchill Downs’ “Win and You’re In” Iroquois (GIII) Sept.16 to earn a berth for trainer Larry Rivelli and the son of Dialed In is undefeated in three starts.
Another California star is Bridlewood Farm, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s MOONSHINE MEMORIES, trained by Simon Callaghan, who looms large in the $2 million 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles. The 2-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon is perfect in three starts and convincingly earned a berth into the race when she won Santa Anita’s “Win and You’re In” Chandelier (GI) Sept. 30. Klaravich Stable’s SEPARATIONOFPOWERS did the same when she won the “Win and You’re In” Frizette (GI) for trainer Chad Brown.
Friday, the $1 million Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile has drawn an exceptionally talented group of 16 pre-entries, led by Michael Lund Petersen’s MOR SPIRIT, a 4-year-old son of Eskendereya who qualified for the race when he dominated the “Win and You’re In” Metropolitan Mile (GI) at Belmont Park on June 10 for trainer Bob Baffert, and has been off since then. Hronis Racing’s 4-year-old ACCELERATE, who won the San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar by more than eight lengths, and Pat O’Brien Stakes winner GIANT EXPECTATIONS are two more formidable Southern California-based challengers. From the east comes the Chad Brown-trained 3-year-old PRACTICAL JOKE and Kelso Handicap (G2) winner SHARP AZTECA.
In Saturday’s $1.5 million TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs, Baoma Corporation’s DREFONG looks to repeat after winning the race last year for Baffert. The 4-year-old son of Gio Ponti earned an automatic berth into the race when he won Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Forego (GI) on Aug. 26. Drefong, 6 of 8 lifetime, had an inauspicious 2017 debut at Del Mar when he lurched into the gap at the start of the Bing Crosby on July 29, unseating jockey Mike Smith. Among the challengers are Raymond Mamone’s 4-year-old IMPERIAL HINT, who won the Smile Sprint (G3) at Gulfstream Park in July; J Stables, Head of the Plains Partners and All American Horse et al’s 4-year-old MIND YOUR BISCUITS, winner of the Golden Shaheen (G1) in Dubai in March; Agave Racing Stable and Jeff Wilke’s 5-year-old RANSOM THE MOON, who captured the “Win and You’re In” Bing Crosby (G1) by 1½ lengths over Rockingham Ranch’s 4-year-old ROY H, who went on to win the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) in his next start on Oct. 7. In New York, Shadwell Stable’s TAKAFUL won the Vosburgh (G1) for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and in Kentucky, WHITMORE won his fifth race in seven starts this year in taking the Phoenix Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
An extremely deep field of 14 has been pre-entered for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, run at seven furlongs, led by Don Alberto Stable’s UNIQUE BELLA, who returned to win off a layoff in the L.A. Woman Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. The 3-year-old daughter of Tapit won a trio of winter graded stakes at Santa Anita by 18 ½ lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, but developed sore shins and was forced to the sidelines. Other top contenders include Jay Em Ess Stable’s 5-year old BY THE MOON, who won Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Ballerina (G1) Aug. 26; CURLIN’S APPROVAL, who won Gulfstream Park’s “Win and You’re In” Princess Rooney (G2) in July and FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM, who took the “Win and You’re In” Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) at Keeneland. Defending Filly & Mare Sprint winner FINEST CITY, of Seltzer Thoroughbreds, was second by a neck to Juddmonte Farm’s PAULASILVERLINING in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs in May. Bloom Racing, Allen Racing, Tom Acker and Jon
Lindo’s 4-year-old SKYE DIAMONDS is 5 of 6 this year, and will be making her first start since Aug. 13 when she won the Rancho Bernardo (G3) at Del Mar.
The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, run at five furlongs will showcase Stonestreet Farm, George Bolton and Peter Leidel’s world-traveler LADY AURELIA, a 3-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy who won Royal Ascot’s King’s Stand (GI) in June for trainer Wesley Ward. Elite Racing Club’s MARSHA (IRE), trained by Sir Mark Prescott, earned a berth into the race when she upset Lady Aurelia in the “Win and You’re In” Coolmore Nunthorpe (GI) at York Aug. 25. Christophe Clement has pre-entered two runners for owner Patricia Generazio: the 5-year-old DISCO PARTNER, who is 4 of 5 this year, and recently won the Belmont Turf Sprint Stakes on Oct. 7, and PURE SENSATION, who won the Turf Monster at Parx Racing by a half-length over 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner MONGOLIAN SATURDAY.
Friday’s program will open with the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at one mile, and Aidan O’Brien may have a budding star with Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s HAPPILY (IRE), who swept to victory in the “Win and You’re In” Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) at the Curragh against her own gender, and then defeated males in the Qatar Prix Jean Luc Lagardere (G1) at Chantilly on Oct. 1. The John Gosden-trained JULIET CAPULET (IRE) automatically qualified for the race by winning the Shadwell Rockfel Stakes (G2) for Cheveley Park Stud at Newmarket on Sept. 29.
O’Brien has won the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at one mile three times. He has pre-entered two-time Group 1 winner US NAVY FLAG, a Kentucky-bred son of War Front who took the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes on Sept. 30 and the Darley Dewhurst Stakes, both at Newmarket, two weeks later. West Point Thoroughbreds’ UNTAMED DOMAIN automatically qualified for the Juvenile Turf when he won Woodbine’s “Win and You’re In” Summer (GII) Sept. 17 for trainer Graham Motion, while John Oxley’s FLAMEAWAY did the same when he won Keeneland’s Bourbon (G3) for trainer Mark Casse.
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