Peter Brant’s Fog of War got rolling in the Woodbine stretch and took over in the final furlong to score in the Grade 1, $250,000 Summer Stakes for 2-year-olds on Sept. 16, punching his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November.
The colt earned an automatic berth in the Juvenile Turf, held at Churchill Downs during the “Future Stars Friday” Nov. 2 card, by winning the Summer Stakes, which is a Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” qualifying race for the World Championships.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, 1.10-1 favorite Fog of War settled off the pace in fourth early. The son of War Front saved ground behind War of Will, who took the lead in early stretch, and he hit his best stride when it mattered, edging past War of Will in the late stages defeat that foe by three-quarters of a length. Fog of War completed the one-mile Summer Stakes in a final time of 1:33.90 over firm turf.
Nashtrick finished two lengths behind War of Will in third.
“I put him behind the horses, covered up, and let him see the target all the way in the race,” Castellano said about Fog of War’s trip. “I liked the way he split horses at the quarter pole. He’s really a smart horse. When I asked him, he finished really well. These are the kind of horses you want to ride. These kinds of horses have lot of potential.
“He’s a very talented horse, and I think the key was I tried to teach him something for the future, for the next race,” Castellano added. “It’s the kind of horse that you don’t want to be on the front with everybody chasing. You want to teach him something and let him win the race and go forward. I think he’s got a lot of potential and he’s coming around very well.”
Trained by Chad Brown, Fog of War won his only previous start – a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight race at Saratoga Race Course – by a neck on Aug. 13. Brant purchased the colt for $400,000 through his White Birch Farm at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Fog of War’s dam (mother) is Irish group stakes winner Say, by leading international sire Galileo.. –Mary LaRue
After La Pelosa finished second against Group 3 competition twice this season in England, a trip over the Atlantic brought turned out to be the right prescription for a breakthrough win, as the 2-year-old filly captured the Grade 1, $250,000 Natalma Stakes two races prior to the Summer Stakes.
With the win, Godolphin's La Pelosa earned an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on “Future Stars Friday” at Churchill Downs. The Natalma was a Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Juvenile Fillies.
Three different horses were in contention through the stretch in the one-mile Natalma Stakes, but La Pelosa was the one who finished the best under jockey Jaime Spencer, as favored My Gal Betty wandered out to the center of the course late.
Pacesetter Eyeinthesky set honest fractions and had a clear lead through the first three-quarters of a mile, but didn't last long in the stretch. Wesley Ward-trained Stillwater Cove led by a length with a furlong to run, but La Pelosa, who raced in 10th early, was full of run and kicked late to defeat My Gal Betty by a length as Stillwater Cove faded to fifth.
Sent off as the second betting choice at odds of 3.25-1, La Pelosa finished off the mile in 1:33.70 on firm turf for trainer Charlie Appleby. Bold Script edged French shipper Pivottina by a neck to complete the trifecta at odds of 33.40-1.
"She did everything right," Spencer said about his filly. "She did what her [British] form suggested it would do, and the race worked out perfectly. I just got her into her rhythm where she's happy and let her take it from there. The pace was strong, so I was a little bit farther back than I initially planned, but that's the way it panned out, and she was very brave in the straight when I asked her for a full effort."
Irish-bred La Pelosa finished second in her last European start before shipping to Woodbine, the Group 3 German-Thoroughbred.com Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket on Aug. 11. Prior to that, she finished fifth and third in two stakes races, and started her summer stakes campaign off by losing by a neck in the June 22 Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot.
"She's a lovely filly," said Appleby's assistant, Alex Merriam. "I think she's turned a few heads this week. She shipped well, she traveled well, and she's done everything right, which is a big ask for a 2-year-old filly, so we're really pleased with her." –Jeremy Balan