Trained by Kentucky-based Dale Romans, Free Drop Billy ran well at Saratoga Race Course this summer, finishing second to eventual Champagne Stakes winner Firenze Fire in the Grade 3 Sanford Stakes and missing victory by just a neck in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes when second to Sporting Chance.
Racing back in the Bluegrass State Saturday for the first time since his three-length maiden special weight victory in June at Churchill Downs, Free Drop Billy delivered the top performance of his career as he quickly opened a wide advantage in early stretch under Robby Albarado and sustained that run to the wire to post a four-length victory. The son of Union Rags completed the 1 1/16-mile test for 2-year-olds in 1:45.43 as the 3-2 favorite.
The Breeders' Futurity also is a 2018 Kentucky Derby Championship Series Prep Season race, awarding 10 points to the winner, four points to the runner-up, two points to the third-place finisher, and one point to the fourth-place finisher.
With the win, Romans picked up his fourth Breeders' Futurity victory since 2005 when he won with Dawn of War. He followed with scores by Dullahan in 2011 and Brody's Cause in 2015.
Suedois Surges to Shadwell Turf Mile Score
A multiple group winner in Europe, the David O'Meara-trained son of Le Havre ran by last year's Turf Mile winner, Miss Temple City, and passed frontrunner Heart to Heart in the stretch to win by a half-length. Ridden by Daniel Tudhope, Suedois covered the eight-furlong distance in 1:35.94 as the 9.70-1 sixth betting choice in a full 14-horse field. He earned an automatic “Win and You’re In” berth in the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Mile with the victory.
Heart to Heart gamely stayed up for second, Ballagh Rocks took third late, and Divisidero also rallied for fourth. Last year’s Arlington Million winner Mondialiste finished fifth, and Miss Temple City tired to finish sixth.
Where his stablemate and fellow entrant Mondialiste was a multiple Grade 1 winner in North America, Suedois was a wild card heading into the Shadwell. The 6-year-old Le Havre gelding captured the Group 2 Clipper Logistics Solonaway Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown Racecourse in Ireland Sept. 9, snapping a 13-race losing skid that featured seven tries against Group 1 company in sprint races.
"We've targeted horses in this country before quite successfully and the money was very big," said O'Meara. "We wanted to keep him at a mile. We contested him in five or six Group 1s last year and he was hitting the woodwork in them all, he was placing in most of them. It's something I always wanted to do, to step him up to a mile. And since he's come up to a mile now, he's won two out of two.
"Maybe I was running him over the wrong trip all along."
Miss Temple City is slated to be offered at the Fasig-Tipton November sale and trainer Graham Motion said that a Breeders' Cup start would be unlikely.
"I'll talk to the owners but I think she's had an amazing run and it's time to be a momma," Motion said of the dark bay mare.
Suedois improved his record to eight wins from 32 starts with $1,366,012 in earnings.
"We'll have to chat with the owners (about Breeders' Cup)," O'Meara said. "We'll just have to see." –Alicia Wincze-Hughes
Zipessa Earns First Grade 1 Win in First Lady
After repeatedly holding her own against the best of her division, Zipessa picked up her first career top-level victory when she overtook pacesetter Hawksmoor in the stretch of the $400,000 Grade 1 First Lady Stakes en route to a 1 ½-length win.
The one-mile First Lady Stakes – a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're in" event for the Filly and Mare Turf – marked the first victory for Zipessa since the chestnut mare took the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes in July 2016. But she had competed well in several graded stakes in the interim, and entered the First Lady off of a game neck loss to multiple Grade 1 winner Miss Temple City in the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes.
"Luckily for us, and that's the way horse racing is, she blossomed for us right at the right time," said trainer Michael Stidham, who saddled his first Grade 1 winner since Her Emmynency took the 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes. “She certainly had this one coming. It was owed to her, let's put it that way. She ran so hard last year and this year and couldn't quite get it done. Today she was pretty dominant."
After stalking pacesetter Hawksmoor through the backstretch, Zipessa ranged up into striking position on the far turn and jockey Joe Bravo had ample horse to work with as they settled in for the stretch run, collaring Hawksmoor about a furlong out.
"That's the great thing about Michael and his team. He let me go out there and ride with an open mind," Bravo said. "This filly, she can relax. She's gotten bigger, smarter, with age she's just gotten to be a better horse."
Zipessa covered the mile in 1:36.99 at odds of 16.60-1. Hawksmoor held second by a neck over fellow graded stakes winner Roca Rojo. Another graded stakes winner, Dona Bruja, edged Grade 1 winner Dickinson for fourth. –Alicia Wincze-Hughes
Finley’sluckycharm Bounces Back in TCA
The consistent Finley'sluckycharm picked up another graded stakes victory on the Oct. 7 Keeneland undercard, when she rolled past her competition in the stretch to win the $250,000 Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes.
Off slowly in the six-furlong event for fillies and mares and not assuming her typical front-running spot, the Twirling Candy filly raced just off the pace and rallied in the stretch to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
"It wasn't planned. Obviously I left it in Brian's hands," winning trainer Bret Calhoun said of jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.'s ride. "She's been a very consistent filly. In the mornings she's gotten where she turns off a little bit more as she's gotten older. Brian said she just didn't get away good today. Those horses got in front of her quick, and he just decided to try something different."
Finley'sluckycharm hit the wire first in a final time of 1:10.01 as the 4-5 favorite.
Finley’sluckycharm entered Saturday's test off a neck loss to multiple Grade 1 winner Paulassilverlining in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap at Saratoga in July. She earned an automatic berth to the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint with her win in the TCA Stakes. –Erin Shea
Bucchero Upsets Woodford Stakes
The 5-year-old son of Kantharos finished 11th in the 2016 edition of the 5 ½-furlong turf sprint, but found his winning run this year under Fernando De La Cruz, and gave the Peruvian rider his first graded stakes score.
Bucchero found a sweet spot behind pacesetter Latent Revenge in the Woodford, and was in prime position to make his move after stalking three deep behind the early leader. Bucchero shook clear of that foe and had enough left to hold off Hogy by 1 ¾ lengths.
Mongolian Saturday, winner of the 2016 Woodford and 2015 TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, was another half-length back in third. The final time was 1:03.06. –Claire Novak-Crosby