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Blog - RACING

The final weekend of major Breeders’ Cup prep races was a weekend of upsets from coast to coast.

The $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile turned into the unofficial Shadwell Polytrack Route as the race came off the turf after storms dropped an inch and a half of rain on Keeneland Race Course during the afternoon races. This proved to be part of the downfall of Wise Dan, whose 9-race winning streak came to an end thanks to front-running Silver Max.

Silver Max’s form has improved tremendously from three to four, with the colt winning his last three races, including two Grade 2s (the Shadwell Mile was downgraded from a Grade 1, pending review, due to the race coming off the turf). His form is much better than this time last year where he had a string of bad races after running strongly the first half of the year, something trainer Dale Romans blames on himself.
“He had management issues. I threw him to the wolves probably a little quicker than I should have, but we backed up and regrouped and he’s strong this fall. We had a tired horse last fall – this fall we’re just peaking,” Romans said.

Fall Stars Diary

Fall Stars: Damp Delights

While the race coming off the turf may theoretically have something to do with Wise Dan losing, it needs to be noted that Silver Max also is a turf horse, only running on the dirt six times in his 22-race career with one win. Wise Dan had won on the Keeneland Polytrack in the past, breaking a track record for 1 1/8 miles in the 2012 Ben Ali Stakes. Charlie LoPresti, Wise Dan’s trainer, didn’t make any excuses for his gelding after the race.

“[He had no excuses] because he broke the track record here going a mile and an eighth. Maybe with the water on it, it was more sticky. That's what it looks like to me but I am not going to make any excuses,” LoPresti said. “He ran a great race; he really did. Johnny [Velazquez, Wise Dan’s jockey] said [Silver Max] won fair and square – he just got loose on the front end.”

While this does potentially give bettors better odds on Wise Dan going into the Breeders’ Cup Mile, the gelding should still be the biggest threat in the race. Silver Max will be aiming to take him down again at Santa Anita, but I believe that on a firm turf course Wise Dan will have the kick that he didn’t seem to have in Saturday’s race.

BC Division

Race

Track

Dist.

Time

Top 3

Classic

Indiana Derby

Indiana Downs

1 1/16 miles

1:41.95

Power Broker
Bradester
Holy Lute

Classic

Durham Cup Stakes

Woodbine

1 1/8 miles

1:50.14

James Street Alpha Bettor Awesome Overture

Distaff

Indiana Oaks

Indiana Downs

1 1/16 miles

1:43.70

Pure Fun

Oscar Party

Fiftyshadesofhay

Distaff

Spinster Stakes*

Keeneland

1 1/8 miles

1:47.75

Emollient Summer Applause Wine Princess

Juvenile

Champagne Stakes*

Belmont

1 mile

1:35.81

Havana
Honor Code

Ride On Curlin

Juvenile

Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity*

Keeneland

1 1/16 miles

1:46.91

We Miss Artie

Smarty’s Echo
Arctic Slope

Juvenile

Grey Stakes

Woodbine

1 1/16 miles

1:44.80

Ami’s Holiday Big Bazinga Go Greeley

Juvenile Fillies

Frizette Stakes*

Belmont

1 mile

1:36.25

Artemis Agrotera

Sweet Reason

Stopchargingmaria

Juvenile Fillies

Darley Alcibiades Stakes*

Keeneland

1 1/16 miles

1:45.61

My Conquestadory
Rosalind
Battlefield Angel

Juvenile Turf

Mazarine Stakes

Woodbine

1 1/16 miles

1:44.89

Madly Truly

Unspurned

Morant Bay

Juvenile Turf

Bourbon Stakes (off the turf)

Keeneland

1 1/16 miles

1:43.46

Poker Player

Bashart

Bon Accord

Juvenile Turf

Pilgram Stakes*

Belmont Park

1 1/16 miles

1:42.37

Bobby’s Kitten Shadow Banking Captain’s Affair

Juvenile Fillies Turf

Miss Grillo Stakes*

Belmont Park

1 1/16 miles

1:41.73

Testa Rossi

Sky Painter

Dancing House

Turf

Jamaica Handicap

Belmont

1 1/8 miles

1:48.74

Up With the Birds
Admiral Kitten
Jack Milton

Filly and Mare Turf

First Lady Stakes

Keeneland

1 mile

1:39.78

Better Lucky

Dayatthespa

Daisy Devine

Mile

Shadwell Turf Mile (off the turf)

Keeneland

1 1/16 miles

1:42.06

Silver Max

Wise Dan

Willcox Inn

Mile

City of Hope Mile Stakes

Santa Anita

1 mile

1:31.84

No Jet Lag
He Be Fire N Ice

Barocci

Sprint

Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes*

Santa Anita

6 furlongs

1:08.00

Points Offthebench

Goldencents

Distinctiv Passion

Sprint

Phoenix Stakes*

Keeneland

6 furlongs

1:09.56

Sum of the Parts Laugh Track Go Blue Or Go Home

Filly and Mare Sprint

Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes*

Keeneland

6 furlongs

1:09.23

Judy the Beauty

Gypsy Robin

Groupie Doll

Turf Sprint

Woodford Stakes

Keeneland

5 ½ furlongs

1:03.17

Havelock

Expecting Cash

Spring to the Sky

* Denotes Win and You're In races

On Sunday, Emollient made it 2-for-2 on Keeneland’s Polytrack when she won the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes. The filly, owned by Juddmonte Farm, dropped all the way back to the back of the field and got the crowd roaring when she caught the leader in the final furlong. Emollient won a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, if she chooses to go that route, but she has never won a graded stakes race on dirt while she has won Grade 1 events on both the turf and all-weather surfaces.

Emollient won the Grade 1 American Oaks on the grass in Southern California going 1 ¼ miles in July, showing that she can handle the surface and distance if her connections decide to send her to the Filly and Mare Turf. If she does head to the turf, it could make the already stacked Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf one of the most intriguing fields on the card.

Another big upset came in the second biggest race of the day on Saturday at Keeneland when Groupie Doll finished third in the $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes behind Judy the Beauty and Gypsy Robin. All three were in front of the rest of the field at the half and even though they rearranged themselves between there and the stretch, 1-2-3 is how they finished. The loss was bittersweet for Groupie Doll fans as this is the last time she will run at Keeneland before her connections sell her at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. However, it was nice to see Judy the Beauty finally get a graded stakes win for owner-trainer Wesley Ward, as she had finished second in every graded stakes she had run in, except for the Presque Isle Downs Masters, in which she finished third.

Judy the Beauty is headed to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint with Ward, who is stabled at Keeneland for a good portion of the year.

“I’ve owned this filly for a few years now, and I’m just elated,” Ward said. “Any time you can have a home-court advantage [the horses have] a big advantage and that’s what this filly had. She trains here every day. She’s just outstanding.”

Today’s race showed that Groupie Doll isn’t the monster that she was last year, but she was coming off a track record in the Masters. Trainer and part-owner Buff Bradley isn’t sure what the next step is for her, with all plans contingent on how she comes out of Saturday’s effort.

“[Jockey] Rajiv [Maragh] got her to rate. He said she broke sharp, and she was laying right where we wanted to be,” Bradley said. “We were in a good spot all the way around. She just got outrun. I'm not happy about it, but that's the way it is. It looks so far like she came back good, so we'll look at her back in the barn and go from there.”

If all three fillies go on to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, it could be an extremely interesting race to watch. All three share similar running styles late in the race, which could set up perfectly for an epic run to the finish.

The $500,000 Champagne Stakes was the highlight of the weekend for 2-year-olds, attracting a strong field that included Hopeful Stakes winner Strong Mandate. But in the end, Havana started to pay back his $575,000 price tag when he won the race by a desperate neck over Honor Code. The Dunkirk colt jumped from 5 ½ furlongs in his maiden to one mile in the Champagne, causing a bit of concern for trainer Todd Pletcher.

“Any time you go from 5 ½ [furlongs] to a mile and do it against the type of horses he was in with today, it’s always a concern. We did a similar thing with Uncle Mo, the difference being that was six [furlongs] to a mile,” Pletcher said. “I think it takes a pretty special horse to do it. I’m proud of his efforts today. We knew we were asking him a lot, but we were doing it because we liked him a lot.” Pletcher said.

Havana’s sire finished second in the 2009 Belmont Stakes, but I’d be concerned that Havana might have trouble stretching out much farther than the mile distance. I’m not sure if Honor Code was just closing extremely fast - he again was dead last for most of the race like in his debut, but finished second - or if Havana was just doing enough to stay in front, but I have to question his ability to get the 1 1/16 miles of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with what will probably be a tougher field than what was assembled here.

I actually like Honor Code more for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile if his connections decide to send him there as he is acting like he wants more distance. He was forced to go eight wide going into the stretch here, which probably hurt him a bit. Trainer Shug McGaughey is looking toward the Remsen Stakes but says he’ll defer to the colt’s owners if they decide to ship the horse out to California for the Breeders’ Cup.

QUICK QUIZ WITH KEENELAND FANS

The Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity was run in the torrential downpour that didn’t seem to leave Keeneland once the races started on Saturday. But We Miss Artie didn’t appear to mind, coming from the back of the field to score a 2 ¾-length victory in the race.

This was We Miss Artie’s second win in four starts with his maiden win coming on the turf. As turf horses often seem to make the switch to Polytrack effortlessly, his win isn’t as much of a surprise as it would seem at first glance. The win came on a day when Ken and Sarah Ramsey broke their unusual 0-for-6 streak at Keeneland, where they won the first race on the card as well. Named for Sarah’s cousin who recently died, the colt was a fitting horse to win the Ramseys their first stakes of the meet.

We Miss Artie earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but the Ramseys are leaving it up to trainer Todd Pletcher to decide if the colt goes into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf or Juvenile race. We Miss Artie also earned 10 points toward the Kentucky Derby with the win, which could help decide his fate in the Breeders’ Cup. In the 2013 Kentucky Derby, having 20 points (the Juvenile is also worth 10 points) guaranteed horses a spot in the Derby gate.

My Conquestadory had much better weather at Keeneland for her win on Friday when she scored the first half of a juvenile Grade 1 double for sire Artie Schiller (We Miss Artie also is by Artie Schiller). The filly showed how much of a freak she is on the Polytrack when she overcame trouble to win the Darley Alcibiades by 1 ¾ lengths. Trainer Mark Casse has a lot of faith in the filly’s ability as he put her in a Grade 2 against the males in her debut, a race she easily won by 3 ¼ lengths. In that race she had earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf due to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf being a male-only race.

The Alcibiades Stakes was a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Casse seems to be favoring that race over the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

“Definitely [we’ll be going to the Juvenile Fillies]. Hopefully, she’s fine. We came here because I said I wanted to get her some experience – didn’t know we were going to get that much experience, but I’m glad to have it,” Casse said, referring to the traffic trouble she overcame to prevail.

My Conquestadory has the same worry as We Miss Artie in the fact that she’ll probably be more comfortable on the turf. However, she is out of a daughter of Malibu Moon, which could help her switch to the dirt more easily.

Sweet Reason proved that even though the Frizette Stakes is a $500,000 race, the fillies running in it are still babies when she darted inside in the race. That gave her an extremely bad start and she was last for most of the race while race winner Artemis Agrotera had a nearly perfect, stalking trip that set her up to get the lead going into the stretch. Artemis Agrotera is a really nice filly who won her maiden by 11 ¾ lengths, but again I am more impressed by the second-place horse. Sweet Reason was two lengths behind the second-to-last place horse at the first call and steadily moved up through the field, making a good enough comeback to finish just 1 ¼ lengths behind Artemis Agrotera for second. Both fillies are going to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Artemis Agrotera getting a paid trip due to the “Win and You’re In” status of the race.

“I saw [Sweet Reason] coming, but watching as many races as I have over this track, I knew at the sixteenth pole [Sweet Reason] had her work cut out for her and we were in good position,” said Mike Hushion, the trainer of Artemis Agrotera. “I hope [we’ll make the Breeders’ Cup]. We’ll see what the next few days bring. Hopefully, everything will be a ‘go.’ ”

 SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF OPENING DAY AT KEENELAND

Other notes from the weekend:

  • Better Lucky battled a field of eight and a thunderstorm to win the $400,000 First Lady Stakes on Keeneland. The Grade 1 event was the 4-year-old’s second career Grade 1 win and first this year. An interesting note in this race is that the European filly, Say, who finished sixth in the First Lady, is looking to come back in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland next weekend before shipping back to Ireland.
  • Points Offthebench extended his winning streak to four on Saturday with a win in the $250,500 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. The Grade 1 win was the first at Santa Anita for trainer Tim Yakteen and his second overall - his first came with Points Offthebench in the Bing Crosby in July. Yakteen will be sending Points Offthebench to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint for his next start.
  • The biggest upset of the weekend on the West Coast had to come in the $150,750 City of Hope Mile Stakes when No Jet Lag won with heavily favored Obviously finishing off the board. Obviously was probably poised to be the second choice among Americans contenders in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. No Jet Lag is no slouch, though, as he won his first start in America and won two races in England as well.
  • Power Broker bounced back from his second in the Haskell Invitational Stakes by winning the $514,000 Indiana Derby on Saturday. The win was the third Indiana Derby for trainer Bob Baffert, who won the 2009 and 2010 editions of the race as well. Power Broker won his only Grade 1 last fall in the FrontRunner Stakes. There’s no word as to where he’ll go next, but I can’t see him going to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
  • On a non-race related note, trainer Shug McGaughey all but confirmed that Kentucky Derby winner Orb will be skipping the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Orb shipped to Fair Hill after his last-place finish in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup last Saturday but returned to McGaughey’s Belmont Park barn this week. “He’s been good,” said McGaughey. “It's been about a week, so I'll probably try to work him in next week and see where he is. I don't know what I’m going to do with him, if I do anything. I’ll let him tell me. If it’s time to stop, we'll stop. But the Cigar Mile [on Nov. 30] could be a very good possibility.”
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Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Melissa Bauer-Herzog was born and raised in Vancouver, Wash. where she grew up riding horses in all-around events. After graduating from West Texas A&M with a B.S. in Mass Communication she spent the summer of 2012 interning at the United States Equestrian Federation and working at the Paulick Report. Melissa joined America’s Best Racing in December 2012 while interning with Three Chimneys Farm in their marketing communications division.

Image Description

Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Melissa Bauer-Herzog was born and raised in Vancouver, Wash. where she grew up riding horses in all-around events. After graduating from West Texas A&M with a B.S. in Mass Communication she spent the summer of 2012 interning at the United States Equestrian Federation and working at the Paulick Report. Melissa joined America’s Best Racing in December 2012 while interning with Three Chimneys Farm in their marketing communications division.

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