It's crunch time now with just three weeks left before the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Santa Anita, and now is the last chance for horses to earn a trip to California.
We begin our tour of final preps on the East Coast and Belmont Park. In the Grade 1 Beldame Stakes, older fillies and mares went 1 1/8 miles in a bid to go west for the Distaff. In this event, 3-10 favorite Sightseek lived up to expectations, easily collaring pacesetter Bird Town early in the stretch then drawing off to win by 4 1/2 widening lengths in a time of 1:49.27. The win gave trainer Bobby Frankel a North American record 23 Grade 1 victories in one season. Frankel said afterwards, "I thought she ran good, but I know she can run even better than that.
I wanted to get away with this race without pushing her too hard. She's
just a great filly." Asked about taking on champion Azeri, he added, I'm not going to
say that I want to see Azeri run against her; I always like to see the
easiest race possible. [The Distaff] is probably going to be the best race on the [Breeders' Cup] card, if they all show up. I'll ship the Breeders' Cup horses out there [to Santa Anita] some time this coming week." Results Chart
Freefourinternet winner of the Kelso at Belmont.
The Grade 3 Kelso Breeders' Cup featured the Mile division, with older horses going a mile on the Widener Turf Course. Well-traveled five-year-old Freefourinternet, dismissed at 20-1 by the public after his poor finish in the Atto Mile last out, was unhurried in last early on after a bumpy start, went very wide around the far turn to circle the field and came on strong down the lane to just get up for the win by a nose over fellow closer Proud Man in a time of 1:34.73. Favored Decarchy disappointed back in fourth. Trainer Joan Scott said, "This horse has been doing super. He ran a huge race here, and Jose [jockey Espinoza]
did a great job with him. The horse wants to fall out of the race and loaf
around, and at a mile, you can't do that. Jose did a great job of keeping
him up in the race. This horse loves to swing wide and make a big run. I
would say the owners are probable decided about the Breeders' Cup (Mile),
but we will see what they want do." Results Chart
Birdstone winner of the Champagne.
The juveniles were featured in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, the race that historically has yielded the most BC Juvenile starters. 2-1 second choice Birdstone stalked the early pace of 3-2 favorite Chapel Royal and then turning for home three wide, easily went by the leader to win going away by 2 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:44.05. However, his owner, Marylou Whitney, immediately said he would not be sent to California. Trainer Nick Zito said, He's a late foal, and the Breeders Cup Juvenile comes up too soon.
[Whitney] said she loves the Breeders' Cup, but she wants to give him time and
that's fine. This is probably his last race of the year." Results Chart
Society Selection on the outside overtakes Victory U.S.A. to win the Frizette.
The two-year-old fillies competed in the Grade 1 Frizette, also at 1 1/16 miles. 8-1 fourth choice Society Selection rallied from last place early on to finish 1 1/4 lengths clear of 5-2 second choice Victory U.S.A. in a time of 1:43.95. 2-1 favorite Daydreaming finished fourth. Winning trainer Allen Jerkens said, When she worked
in 1:13 one morning, [jockey Ray Ganpath] said, `I can't believe she is going that easy.' We
had to try to do something to get her used to rating, so we worked her
behind horses. It's hard to go from five furlongs to a mile and a
sixteenth. I would imagine that if she is sound and eats well, we'll go to
the Breeders' Cup. She should be able to manage two turns." Results Chart
Eurosilver winning the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.
Moving west over to Keeneland, the juveniles competed in the Grade 2 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity. 2-1 favorite Value Plus disappointed in fourth while 11-1 longshot Eurosilver came on late from seventh early to win going away by 4 3/4 lengths over 12-1 shot Tiger Hunt, in a final time of 1:43.22. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I really love this horse because he's never had dirt in his face and he didn't even mind it. He just ran right into it. There's not too many two-year-olds that do that. When a few horses started stopping on the turn, I just swung him outside and he just took off. It was great." Tim Poole, assistant trainer to Nick Zito, said "He's a horse that's going to continue to improve. The more mature he gets the more professional he becomes." Results Chart
Perfect Soul winner of the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.
The Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile looked to be an Atto Mile reunion, as three of the top four finishers came out of that race at Woodbine. Rallying late down the center of the course was 6-1 shot Perfect Soul, who got up for the win by just 3/4 length in a blanket finish over Honor In War in a time of 1:36.01. Atto winner Touch of the Blues was 1/2 a length back in third, and it was another 1 1/4 back to Soaring Free. 5-2 favorite Trademark finished a surprising sixth. Winning trainer Roger Attfield said, "We had to come to Keeneland to win one. When he got shuffled back early I thought, 'here we go again.' In fairness to the horse, he shouldn't have lost a race this year. I'm very happy for my owner, Mr. Fipke." Jockey Edgar Prado added, "I was very confident going into this race. He finished very strong in the Atto Mile and I thought he'd have a great chance today. We had a great trip. They were smokin' up front so I just waited and the horse responded." Results Chart
Pleasantly Perfect made a perfect comeback to win the Goodwood Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.
Closing out the day's major prep action, we arrive at the site of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Santa Anita, for the Grade 2 Goodwood Breeders' Cup, a key prep for the $4 million Classic. 7-5 favorite Pleasantly Perfect lived up to expectation, taking a wide trip early back in sixth and then splitting horses in mid stretch, got up to win by 1/2 a length over 7-1 shot Fleetstreet Dancer in a time of 1:48.37 for the 1 1/8 mile event. Highly regarded Joey Franco finished fourth while Toccet's comeback was cut short as he finished dead last in the field of eight. Winning jockey Alex Solis said, "He's a nice horse. He's been training really sharp for this race and Mr. Mandella did a great job with him, bringing him back. At the half-mile pole we had to make a little run, a little early move because they were walking, and he was all game. I had plenty of horse. He's a heavy son of a gun, he keeps trying and trying, and you've got to keep riding him." Winning trainer Richard Mandella added, "I've got to give the credit to Alex (Solis for his tactics in overcoming a slow pace). I wouldn't have bet in a million years that they would walk like that and he sensed that as they went down the backside and moved him right up into contention. It made the difference. He'd have never caught them had he just let him drift back so I've got to give him a lot of credit." Asked if this puts him in line for the Breeders' Cup Classic: "Yeah, you bet. That's what I was looking for." Pleasantly Perfect became the first horse since Lord At War in 1984-85 to win consecutive runnings of the Goodwood. Results Chart
The Breeders' Cup Championship Day - The official page for the Breeders' Cup championship races. Just about anything you need to know about it: results, video clips, and race calls for past years, and eventually nominations, entries, and results.