With the 2017 Triple Crown season in the rearview mirror, the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” season is gearing up. While “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series races for this year’s event have been taking place since January, the U.S. races are now coming fast and furious the deeper we progress into summer.
In this week’s Getting to Know feature, we focus on Beach Patrol, winner of the Grade 1 Arlington Million Stakes on Aug. 12 and a guaranteed spot in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf starting gate via the Challenge Series.
Despite the fact that he’s won only four of 15 career starts, Beach Patrol has been very consistent as a racehorse throughout his career. He’s really only run one truly disappointing race — when he was essentially a no-show in the Grade 3 Penn Mile Stakes in June 2016 — and has finished in the top three in 12 of his races, not counting a disqualification from second to fourth in a race that saw him earn a career-best 117 Equibase Speed Figure.
Speaking of speed figures, in nine starts since the Penn Mile, Beach Patrol’s Equibase Speed Figure has ranged from 106 to 117, including a 116 for the half-length Arlington Million win. The Million marked his first victory since winning the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes a year earlier at Arlington at the same 1 ¼-mile distance.
A $250,000 purchase as a weanling at the 2013 Keeneland November breeding stock sale by Ben Glass, agent for Gary and Mary West, Beach Patrol ran third in his debut and second in his second race in two starts as a juvenile. He then earned his first win in his third start going a mile at Santa Anita Park in his 3-year-old debut in March 2016. He followed with another clear win at 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita. After a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes on the 2016 Kentucky Derby undercard, Beach Patrol was sold privately to current owners James Covello, Sheep Pond Partners and Head of Plains Partners and transferred to 2016 Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown. Beach Patrol has raced exclusively against graded-stakes competition on turf since the purchase.
Beach Patrol closed out his 3-year-old season with a three-race stretch that saw him win the Secretariat before running second in both the Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont Park and the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar.
His five starts in 2017 have all come in Grade 1 races and he’s run well in all of them. He twice finished second (although he was disqualified in one) and won the Million, while he was beaten by less than two lengths in both his third-place finish in the United Nations Stakes and fourth-place finish in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes.
“For a horse to consistently show up like that in Grade 1 races against top competition at different racetracks is just remarkable to me.” Covello said. “He’s been a little unlucky outside of Arlington whether it’s the trip, or where he finds himself between other horses. He’s a horse that likes to stalk other horses from the outside. He’s drawn outside both times at Arlington, and he likes that. He’s run the same race a lot this year and obviously it hasn’t always been good enough, but this time it was. I had a lot of confidence in him [in the Million], but there were a lot of good horses in there and, boy, what a thrill it was.”
Beach Patrol has run well in Southern California with two wins in as many starts at Santa Anita and a runner-up finish at Del Mar, host of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, in last year’s Hollywood Derby. He finished second by 1 ½ lengths to Annals of Time with a 114 Equibase Speed Figure that was then a career best.
As far as the 1 ½-mile distance of the Longines Turf, that’s a bit of a mystery. Beach Patrol has two wins and two thirds at 1 ¼ miles and finished third as the favorite in the 1 3/8-mile United Nations, but he’s never tried 1 ½ miles. He also would very likely face a better group of European invaders in the Breeders’ Cup than he beat in the Million.
“I think he can get the mile and a half,” Covello said. “He strides out at a mile and a quarter and galloped out well, and he stayed on well at 1 3/8 miles at Monmouth. He’ll go to the race as long as he’s healthy, but I think it’s going to depend if we can get a break like [in the Million] where we have a horse to sit off of. It’s obviously much easier to get the mile and a half if you can get a stalking trip instead of doing all the dirty work up front.”
Beach Patrol is from the 12th crop of 1999 Belmont Stakes winner and 2000 champion older male Lemon Drop Kid, who has sired 94 stakes winners, including 43 group or graded stakes winners through Aug. 14.
A versatile sire, especially when it comes to surface, Lemon Drop Kid’s top runners include two-time Pacific Classic Stakes winner Richard’s Kid; 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever; 2014 TVG Diana Stakes winner Somali Lemonade; Grade 1 winners Citronnade, Christmas Kid, Santa Teresita, and Cannock Chase; and multiple graded stakes winners Da Big Hoss, Cosmonaut, Kiss the Kid and Kid Cruz to name a few.
While Lemon Drop Kid has sired top runners on dirt, synthetic surfaces, and turf, the majority of his best runners, like Beach Patrol, excel on grass in races around two turns. He is a valuable source of stamina but many of his runners also have an explosive burst of speed.
On the bottom half of the pedigree, Beach Patrol’s dam, Bashful Bertie, by Quiet American, was winless in four starts (three in sprints and one at one mile). She is a full-sister (same dam [mother], same sire [father]) to four-time graded stakes winner Allamerican Bertie, whose graded wins came at 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/8 miles. Allamerican Bertie ran second by less than a length in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at 1 ¼ miles in 2002. Bashful Bertie also is a half-sister (same dam, different sire) to multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter Hurricane Bertie.
Beach Patrol’s grandam, Clever Bertie, was unraced before a strong career as a broodmare, while third dam (maternal great-grandmother) Clever But Costly produced Grade 1 winner Traitor and multiple graded stakes winners Sun King and Ocean Drive among four stakes winners.
I don’t have much concern about Beach Patrol’s ability to be effective at 1 ½ miles, although it is possible the extra distance could dull his last punch a bit. But with his success in Southern California and a strong race on the Breeders’ Cup turf course, he looks like a formidable contender for the Longines Turf.