Tom Pedulla presents five takeaways from the three Breeders’ Cup Challenge races this weekend at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto as well as developments leading to the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course:
BEATING THE BOYS: Blue Heaven Farm’s Starship Jubilee, claimed for $16,000 at Florida’s Gulfstream Park in February 2017, became the third filly to defeat males in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile. In doing so, she earned a fees-paid berth in the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile Presented by PDJF. Trainer Kevin Attard hopes the one-length victory for Canada’s Reigning Horse of the Year against March to the Arch on Saturday bodes well for Nov. 7 at Keeneland Race Course. “It’s obviously a special feeling to know that this race has produced so many horses that went on to win (at) the Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “So I’m really ecstatic right now, and that’s somewhere we’ve been aiming to go all year long. This is just one step closer.”
MORE THAN A NAME: Gretzky the Great sure has the name to accomplish big things. He has the pedigree, too, as a son of 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. Most importantly, he appears to have the talent. He survived an inquiry while rolling home by 3 ¼ lengths in the Summer Stakes on Sunday at Woodbine. He completed the one-mile turf contest in 1:34.53 to notch his third consecutive victory for trainer Mark Casse. He earned an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Nov. 6 at Keeneland and presented jockey Kazushi Kimura with his first Grade 1 victory. Kimura is excited about the 2-year-old’s potential. “When I came to the final turn then came through the final stretch, he had a tremendous explosion,” the rider said. “He sometimes was a little bit lugging in, but he’s just still a baby.”
WORK IN PROGRESS: Lady Speightspeare still needs some polish after she dumped jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson in the starting gate before the Natalma Stakes on Sunday at Woodbine. He ability is unmistakable, though, as she secured a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf by winning the Natalma by three-quarters of a length. Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield welcomed her willingness to rate in her second career start. “That’s always nice to see,” he said. “When you break your maiden and you’re going into a race like this off going wire to wire, you really haven’t had any education or anything going into something like this. So it was nice to see that for sure.”
REAL DEAL: Authentic looks as though he is prepared to back up his gutsy upset of Tiz the Law in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve with another strong showing in the Oct. 3 Preakness. The Derby pacesetter again displayed blistering speed in working five furlongs in a crisp 59.20 seconds on Saturday at Churchill Downs with Martin Garcia aboard. It was the fastest of 38 horses at the distance. “Authentic is a big, strong horse and is handling things very well after the Derby,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Authentic’s seven-furlong gallop out was timed in 1:25.20. He is expected to work again next Saturday in his final Preakness tune-up.
ON TARGET: After a minor foot issue kept Art Collector from starting in the Derby, trainer Tommy Drury wanted to make sure he got a solid work into the youngster this past Saturday at Churchill Downs. He saw what he wanted when his unbeaten sophomore clocked 59.40 for five furlongs. “It was what we were looking for. We went a little longer between races than we hoped to be,” Drury said. “We just wanted to make sure we’re where we want to be. Leading up to the race from here, now you’re just kind of back on a maintenance program. You know you’ve got him where you want him.” The son of 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini is undefeated through four starts this season, with the most recent success coming in the Aug. 9 Runhappy Ellis Park Derby.