Getting to Know Breeders’ Cup Classic New Shooter Tripoli

Tripoli, with jockey Tiago Pereira up, won the Pacific Classic on Aug. 21 to earn an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The field for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic begins to take shape in early summer after the Triple Crown races conclude. Last weekend an expenses-paid berth to the $6 million Classic was awarded to Tripoli for winning the $1,002,000 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes Aug. 21 at Del Mar.

Tripoli is an intriguing contender for the Longines Classic because he earned his first career stakes victory in the Pacific Classic and thus lacks the powerful credentials of some of his peers.

But with a win on the track that will host the Longines Classic Nov. 6 as well as at the 1 1/4-mile distance, his chances to win the $6 million race should not be dismissed.

Race Résumé

Kosta and Peter Hronis paid $450,000 for Tripoli at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale. It took the chestnut colt some time and trainer John Sadler some tinkering for the colt to pay dividends for his owners.

While lacking a true breakout performance prior the Pacific Classic, Tripoli had put together a consistent record with three wins, three seconds, and three thirds in his first 13 starts. He had also finished fourth twice and really had not run a bad race since the third race of his career when he faded badly in a one-mile turf race in his first start against winners.

A 4-year-old colt by 2004 champion turf male Kitten’s Joy, Tripoli made the first 11 starts of his career on the grass but needed nine races after his maiden victory in a turf sprint to secure the second win of his career. Interestingly, it was after halting the winless stretch in a one-mile allowance win on the grass May 1, 2021, at Santa Anita Park that Sadler decided to made the switch to the main track with Tripoli.

In his first try on dirt, Tripoli scored by a half-length in a 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional claiming race June 19 at Santa Anita and equaled his career-best 109 Equibase Speed Figure. Encouraged by that race, Sadler entered Tripoli for his stakes debut in the $250,000 San Diego Handicap and he responded with a second-place finish, beaten by a half-length by Express Train, at 9.30-1 odds in the Grade 2 race. Tripoli earned a 106 Equibase Speed Figure for his promising stakes debut.

Tripoli stretched out to 1 ¼ miles for the first time in the Pacific Classic, an eighth of a mile longer than he’d previously raced on grass and three-sixteenths of a mile longer than he’d competed on dirt. He got off to a smooth start from the inside under jockey Tiago Pereira, who has been aboard for his last four races, and settled into an ideal, ground-saving trip in third while about a length behind pacesetter Tizamagician.

Tripoli looked like he had plenty of fuel in the tank on the far turn, moved up to challenge the leader near the top of the stretch, and then surged clear in the final furling to prevail by 1 ¼ lengths and earn the “Win and You’re In” berth in the Longines Classic.

The final time for 1 ¼ miles was 2:02.37, good for a 109 Equibase Speed Figure and a 104 Beyer Speed Figure, both of which are solid but a bit below what some of the older males have recorded at the top of that division.

The good news is the Longines Classic will be held at the track and distance of what was very clearly the best race of Tripoli’s career, but I think it’s fair to want to see him take another step forward before elevating him to among the top tier of contenders. Having made only three races on dirt while showing improvement with added distance, Tripoli has room to get better now that he seems to have found his niche. He is on the right trajectory but with work left to do.


Heading to the winners’ circle. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Based upon his sire, Kitten’s Joy, it is pretty obvious why Tripoli began his career racing on the grass. Kitten’s Joy’s leading runners include 2015 champion turf male Big Blue Kitten as well as Grade or Group 1-winning turf standouts such as Hawkbill, Roaring Lion, Stephanie’s Kitten, Sadler’s Joy, and Oscar Performance among a long list of accomplished progeny. While Kitten’s Joy runners also have enjoyed success on synthetic and dirt main tracks, he’s built a reputation as arguably the best grass sire in North America as well as a terrific source of stamina.

Tripoli’s dam (mother) is stakes-placed winner Love Train, by leading sire Tapit. Love Train was a winner on grass at distances ranging from three-quarters of a mile to a mile and on dirt sprinting. She ran third in the Lightning City Stakes, a five-furlong turf sprint, in 2015 at Tampa Bay Downs, and Love Train is a half-sister (same dam, different sire) to multiple stakes-winning sprinter Starfish Bay.

Grade 2 winner and stakes producer Touch Love, by Not For Love, is the second dam (maternal grandmother) of Tripoli. Touch Love won the Astoria Stakes and Grade 2 Schuylerville Stakes as a 2-year-old in 2001, both sprints on the dirt. There is some stamina if you dig a bit deeper as Tripoli’s third and fourth dams (maternal great grandmother and great-great grandmother) won two-turn races in the U.S., but again it’s easy to see why his first two races were in turf sprints.

The 1 ¼ miles of the Longines Classic and the dirt main track at Del Mar are hurdles that Tripoli already has cleared, but the lack of stamina on the bottom half of the pedigree could be a factor should he become locked in a prolonged duel in the stretch on Breeders’ Cup day.

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