Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile Preps
This past weekend being just three weeks away from the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Arlington Park, many of the likely starters for the big dance raced in their final preps. The Bessemer Trust Juvenile division was well represented, with no less than four races carded for the two-year-old males to contest. Each prep race was carded at 1 1/16 miles, which is 1/16 mile shorter than this year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Team Valor's new purchase, Irish bred Grand.
Sunday wrapped up the weekend's tests with the Grade 2 Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes at Woodbine. In 2000, Macho Uno used his win in the Grey to prepare for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile which he won over Point Given at Churchill Downs three weeks later. In the 2002 edition, Team Valor shipped its highly regarded purchase Grand from England, coming off a 23-length win at 1 1/16 miles over Wolverhampton's all-weather course. The Irish-bred will continue to be trained by Nicholas Littmoden until after the Breeders' Cup at which time he will be transferred to Elliott Walden for a possible run at the Triple Crown next year. The favorite was local horse Wando, coming off a 2-for-3 campaign thus far, his loss being a close second in his last start which was over turf.
Wando drawing off to win by daylight in the Grey Breeders' Cup at Woodbine.
Huge longshot Cyberdevil took the early lead and set respectable early fractions of 23.16 and 47.87 before fading to last and being eased in the stretch. 3-1 third choice Gigawatt, coming off a 17-length maiden win last out, stalked him and took the lead after 6 furlongs in 1:13.35. Down the stretch, Wando, who saved ground around both turns under new rider Richard Migliore, was full of run and easily blew by Gigawatt inside the final furlong to win going away by 3 3/4 lengths. Grand raced from the back of the pack early, put in a mild rally, and finished third 2 lengths back of Gigawatt after racing wide throughout. The running time was 1:45.10 over a fast main track.
Wando returning after the race. Notice the blood on his right hind leg from just above the ankle down.
After the race, as Wando was being walked back towards the winner's circle, blood was seen on his right hind leg. Jockey Richard Migliore said, "He got stepped on by a horse from behind in the middle of the first turn and there was a considerable amount of blood when we pulled up." Track veterinarian Dr. Robert McMartin said, "The horse received a small nick abrasion to the right hind leg lateral. Greg Taylor, the commission veterinarian, examined it and bandaged it, and informed me that it was just a small cut to a superficial artery. It looks fairly minor. My associate Dr. Dan Duncan is looking at it. He was just bleeding out of the small nick. It was superficial and shouldn't be a problem." Trainer Mike Keogh said earlier in the week that a win in the Grey would earn him a trip to Chicago, but his recovery from the injury will be a factor now. Gigawatt's trainer Mark Casse said that he will not be sending him to the Breeders' Cup. (Results Chart)
Toccet winner of the Champagne Stakes at Belmont
Saturday had three major Juvenile prep races scheduled. The Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont featured such highly regarded colts as the favorite Pretty Wild, and second choice Icecoldbeeratreds, trained by Bob Baffert. However, a 9-1 longshot stole the show when Toccet rallied strongly down the stretch to catch Icecoldbeeratreds for a 1 1/2 length score, in a final time of 1:44.45. Erinsouthernman was third and the 9-5 favorite Pretty Wild disappointed in fourth place. Winning trainer John Scanlan said, "He's not the kind of horse you have to train hard. You just have to keep him fit. The farther he goes the better. He'll be at Arlington a week before the [Breeders' Cup] to get a work over the track." (Results Chart)
Sky Mesa winner of the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland
Keeneland Race Course featured the Grade 2 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity. Huge favorite Sky Mesa, coming off his win in the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga, ran to his credentials and his 2-5 odds with an impressive 4 length win in 1:46.78 over Lone Star Sky and Truckle Feature. Stalking the early pace of Truckle Feature early on, he took over on the far turn and drew off down the stretch. Trainer John Ward said, "He made every mistake a young horse could make and he still got it done. He relaxed too much around the half-mile pole and he was pricking his ears down the lane. Even though he trains at Keeneland, he's not used to having 20,000 people watching him." (Results Chart)
Kafwain (outside) winner of the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita by a nose over stablemate Bull Market
Completing Saturday's action out on the west coast was the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting. The familiar connections of owner Thoroughbred Corporation, trainer Bob Baffert, and jockey Victor Espinoza were at it again, this time with the highly-regarded 9-5 favorite Kafwain, winner of the Best Pal Stakes and a second in the Del Mar Futurity. Racing from the back of the pack early, Espinoza took him four wide into the stretch and he rallied to prevail by a nose over fellow Baffert trainee and 2-1 second choice Bull Market in 1:42.75. It was another length back to 3-1 third choice Listen Indy. Bob Baffert said he will send both Kafwain and Bull Market to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. (Results Chart)
For a look at the latest top contenders for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile, check here.