The Breeders' Cup prep season is in full swing and this weekend we have 12 stakes races from North America. Here is a recap of them all courtesy of the NTRA and Breeders' Cup Limited.
Race: $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic (G2), 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/8 miles
Roses in May
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge - Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 4-year-old colt ROSES IN MAY was the 3-to-10 favorite in Saturday’s Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park to remain undefeated in five starts this year and on course as one of the favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Trained by Dale Romans and ridden for the first time this year by John Velazquez, the Devil His Due colt drew off in the stretch for an easy four-length victory over Kagele Brothers’ PIE N BURGER in the field of six. For good measure, Romans had Velazquez work Roses in May an extra eighth of mile past the wire after the nine-furlong test with the Breeders’ Cup to be his first attempt at a mile-and-a-quarter. Unraced as a 2-year-old, Roses in May didn’t make his debut until Kentucky Derby Day last year, finishing second in a maiden special weight. Prior to Saturday’s easy score, Roses in May had won hard-fought victories over Classic Division rival Perfect Drift in the Cornhusker Breeders’ Cup at Prairie Meadows and the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. Romans was very pleased with the way things went Saturday as the $115,000 OBS April 2-year-old purchase attempts to remain perfect this year in the Breeders’ Cup.
Race: $300,000 Ruffian Handicap (G1), fillies & mares, 1 1/16 miles
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel - Juddmonte Farm’s 5-year-old mare SIGHTSEEK remained perfect in five lifetime starts at Belmont Park Sunday when she romped to win the Ruffian Handicap by 11 1/4 lengths under jockey John Velazquez. Trained by Bobby Frankel, the homebred daughter of Distant View was the 1-to-4 favorite against just four rivals in the 1 1/16 miles test run around one turn. Susan and John Moore’s POCUS HOCUS finished second with Maria Bago and partners’ California invader MISS LOREN (ARG) third as the second choice. Sightseek had won the Ogden Phipps Handicap over the track and distance for the second year in a row in June, but finished second to Azeri last out in the Go For Wand Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 1, a two-turn race. Sightseek finished fourth as the 3-to-5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last year at Santa Anita after winning the Beldame Stakes at Belmont in her previous start. Frankel indicated that the chestnut winner of nearly $2 million would likely run back in the Beldame before committing to another bid in the Breeders’ Cup where she would again face Azeri in a two-turn race. The 2005 Breeders’ Cup Distaff will be run at Belmont Park.
Race: $175,000 Turfway Breeders’ Cup (G3), fillies & mares, 1 1/16 miles
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel - Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff four times and finished second a remarkable eight times over the event’s 20-year history. Lukas appears to hold a strong hand again in this year’s renewal with Azeri and 3-year-old filly Stellar Jayne pointing for the race. Saturday at Turfway Park, Lukas sent out Finney Creek Stable’s 3-year-old filly SUSAN'S ANGEL to defeat older fillies and mares in the Turfway Breeders’ Cup on Kentucky Cup Day. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, the daughter of Cape Town had failed to handle a ‘sloppy’ track when sixth last out in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, but drove to a three-quarters length victory over Lothenbach Stable’s 5-year-old mare MAYO ON THE SIDE in the field of six Saturday. Bill and Vicki Poston’s 4-year-old filly ANGELA'S LOVE was the 9-to-5 favorite and finished third, 11/2 lengths behind the runner-up. Susan’s Angel had been highly consistent prior to the Alabama, although not facing division leaders. Lukas indicated her next goal might be the Indiana Breeders’ Cup Oaks at Hoosier Park on Oct. 1.
Race: $197,800 Belmont Breeders’ Cup (G2), 3yos & up, 1 1/8 miles (turf)
Road to the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile – Claiborne Farm’s 4-year-old STROLL was the 3-to-5 favorite in a field of only four to go to the post for Saturday’s Belmont Breeders’ Cup Handicap run on a very ‘soft’ course. Making his first start since finishing sixth as the favorite in the 10-furlong Manhattan Handicap on Belmont Day, Stroll stalked the pace set by Marylou Whitney Stable’s GULCH APPROVAL and hit the front briefly in the upper stretch. However, the Pulpit colt was no match for Bob and Beverly Lewis’ SENOR SWINGER in the final furlong, who drew clear to win by four lengths under Edgar Prado in slow time of 1:52 3/5 for nine furlongs. Winning trainer Bob Baffert was not on hand, but the El Prado colt certainly ran well enough to be considered for a chance in the NetJets Mile. Trainer Bill Mott suggested that Stroll might run back in the Kelso Breeders’ Cup on Oct. 9 at Belmont as final tune-up for the Breeders’ Cup. Last year, Stroll won his last five starts of the season and had captured the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Derby Day.
Race: $1 million Atto Mile (G1), 3—year-olds & up, one mile (turf)
Road to the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile – Sam-Son Farm’s SOARING FREE scored his eighth victory in nine starts over the Woodbine turf course Sunday, winning the Atto Mile by three-quarters of a length over Charles Fipke’s PERFECT SOUL (IRE). Ridden by Todd Kabel, Soaring Free dueled for the lead from the start after breaking from the outside post 11 as Perfect Soul made a big rally from the back of the pack. Trained by Mark Frostad, Soaring Free is a 5-year-old homebred gelding by Smart Strike and came into the Atto Mile after four straight victories over the course at six and seven furlongs. His lone defeat over the Woodbine course was his good second-place effort in the Atto Mile last year behind Touch of the Blues. Perfect Soul finished third in that race. Soaring Free went on to finish a respectable fifth in the NetJets Mile at Santa Anita with Perfect Soul ninth and both are expected at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30. Stronach Stable’s ROYAL REGALIA ran very well to finish third, beaten a head by the runner-up, after mounting a strong challenge to Soaring Free in the stretch. The 6-year-old Cozzene gelding also merits consideration for a start in the NetJets Mile.
Race: $100,000 Kentucky Cup Sprint (G3), 3-year-olds, six furlongs
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint – Veteran horseman Bob Holthus was already having a good day Saturday at Turfway Park after 2-year-old Greater Good won the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (see below). Three races later on the track’s marquee day of racing, Holthus was back in the winner’s circle after the Kentucky Cup Sprint with Fly Racing’s 3-year-old LEVEL PLAYINGFIELD as a 10-to1 longshot in the field of five. Winchell Thoroughbreds’ CUVEE was the 6-to-5 favorite in only his second start since the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall at Santa Anita. Cuvee led into the stretch but Level Playingfield rallied from last and ran by in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths as Cuvee held second by 1 1/4 lengths over Overbrook Farm’s SWIFT ATTRACTION. Level Playingfield had raced on turf in his five previous starts without winning, but obviously relished the change of surface. Cuvee was the 8-to-5 favorite in the Bessemer Trust Juvenile last year after stunning victories in the Saratoga Special and Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park, but tired badly to finish last of 12. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the Carson City colt finished second in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 8 in his only other start this year, but should move forward from Saturday’s effort. Holthus had no specific plan for Level Playingfield.
Race: $300,000 Futurity Stakes (G1), 2-year-olds, one mile
Park Avenue Ball
Road to the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – Char-Mari Stable’s PARK AVENUE BALL rallied from off the pace to win Sunday’s Futurity Stakes at Belmont Park by three lengths over Klaravich Stable’s WALLSTREET SCANDAL. Namcook Stable’s UPSCALED finished another 1 1/2 lengths back in third as Fusao Sekiguchi’s even-money favorite FUSAICHI ROCK STAR faded to fifth in the stretch after making a bold bid in the turn of the one-mile test. Trained by Jim Ryerson at Monmouth Patk, Park Avenue Ball is a New Jersey homebred by Citidancer. He had won his first two starts and finished second to Evil Minister in the Sapling Stakes last out at Monmouth. Ryerson said afterward that he will consider coming back for the Champagne Stakes on Oct. 9 at Belmont.
Race: $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile (G3), 2-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles
Road to the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – Lewis Lakin’s 2-year-old colt GREATER GOOD was sent off 6-to-1 in Saturday’s Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park after breaking his maiden last out at Ellis Park in his second career start. Things didn’t go well at the start of Saturday’s race for the homebred colt by Intidab as he trailed the field early into the first turn of the 1 1/16 mile test over a track that appeared to favor speed. That all changed quickly as he picked it up on the backstretch and rather easily ran by the field in the stretch to win by 2 3/4 lengths with Burr Travis’ MAGNA GRADUATE a clear second in the field of six. Clinton and Susan Atkins’ odds-on choice STORIED CAT faded to fifth. Greater Good was ridden by jockey John McKee for trainer Bob Holthus, who indicated the colt would likely start next in a race at Keeneland.
Race: $200,000 Arlington-Wash. Breeders’ Cup Futurity (G2), 2yos, one mile
Track: Arlington Park
Finishing Order: 1-THREE HOUR NAP, 2(DH)-ELUSIVE CHRIS, 2(DH)-STRAIGHT LINE
Margins: Neck, (DH), 8
Also ran: ROCKY RIVER, SANTANA STRINGS, EXCEPTIONAL RIDE
Winning Connections: Owner: Homewrecker Racing; Trainer: Hugh Robertson; Jockey: Eusabio Razo, Jr.
Time: 1:38 2/5 (fast)
Road to the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – Homewrecker Racing’s 2-year-old THREE HOUR NAP remained undefeated in three career starts Sunday with a hard-fought neck victory in the Arlington-Washington Breeders’ Cup Futurity at Arlington Park. James Hines, Jr.’s ELUSIVE CHRIS and Nancy Vanier’s STRAIGHT LINE finished in a dead-heat for second in the field of six going one mile. Three Hour Nap is a son of Afternoon Delites purchased for $67,000 at Keeneland September yearling sales and had won both of his previous starts at Arlington for trainer Hugh Robertson, who is co-owner of the colt.
Race: $300,000 Matron Stakes (G1), 2-year-old fillies, one mile
Sense of Style
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s 2-year-old filly SENSE OF STYLE was generally regarded as the Juvenile Fillies Division leader after winning the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga by 6 3/4 lengths. The daughter of Tabor’s 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch was made the 3-to-10 favorite for Sunday’s Matron Stakes at Belmont Park with regular rider Edgar Prado aboard for the one-mile test. Sense of Style broke last and was left with a lot to do. She overcame the trouble with a bold move around rivals on the outside and held Darley Stable’s BALLETTO (UAE) safe by a length in the stretch. Gary Zwerling’s PLAY WITH FIRE finished another three-quarters of a length back in third. Trained by Patrick Biancone, Sense of Style was purchased for $800,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sales and had won her debut impressively as the favorite at Saratoga prior to the Spinaway. Biancone conformed her goal was the Breeders’ Cup, but had not decided whether she would have another start before then. Sense of Style’s time for the distance was 1 1/5 seconds faster than Park Avenue Ball’s for the Futurity a race earlier.
Race: $100,000 Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies, 2-year-old fillies, one mile
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and Burning Day Farm’s PUNCH APPEAL took command early in Saturday’s Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies at Turfway Park and never was seriously challenged as she coasted home to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Jockey Shane Sellers was aboard in the one mile test with Buckram Oak Farm’s CARMANDIA finishing a clear second in the field of seven 2-year-old fillies. Punch Appeal, a daughter of the highly rated freshman sire Successful Appeal, won three of her first four starts at Calder for trainer Bill White. She was then purchased privately and sent to Asmussen at Saratoga. Last out in the Spinaway Stakes, Punch Appeal broke awkwardly and was bumped to last early before rallying to fifth, beaten only two lengths for second as division leader Sense of Style romped home an easy winner. Asmussen said after the race that Punch Appeal would be pointed next for the Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 8.
Race: $100,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie (G3), 2-year-old fillies, one mile
Track: Arlington Park
Finishing Order: 1-CULINARY, 2-RUNWAY MODEL, 3-KOTA
Margins: 2, 3 1/2, 2
Also ran: MARY ALEX, MY THREE SISTERS, BUBBLE N SQUEAK, PATIENCE PAYS, QUEANSCO
Winning Connections: Owner: Jack Smith III; Trainer: Michael Stidham; Jockey: Carlos H. Marquez
Time: 1:36 4/5 (fast)
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – Jack Smith III’s 2-year-old filly CULINARY had won her only start prior to Sunday’s Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes at Arlington Park by 11 lengths, but was let go at 7-to-1 in the one-mile test. The daughter of El Amante rallied through the stretch for a professional two-length victory over Naveed Chowhan’s RUNWAY MODEL in the field of eight. Culinary is trained by Michael Stidham and appears to have a bright future.
Previous weekend recaps:
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