Juju’s Map Dazzles on Opening Day at Keeneland, Special Reserve Earns Spot in Breeders’ Cup Sprint

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Juju’s Map punched her ticket for the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies by winning the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes Oct. 8 at Keeneland. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Brad Cox may train the two early favorites for the Nov. 6 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar in Knicks Go and Essential Quality, but last year’s Eclipse Award-winning trainer is not done filling out his squad for the other 13 championship races in California early next month.

weekend TV schedule

Saturday, Oct. 9: 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m. on FS2; 5 p.m.-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, Oct. 10: 12:30 p.m.-1 p.m. on FS2; 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. on FS1; 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on FS2; 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN; post time varies on TVG

On opening day of the Keeneland fall meet Oct. 8, Juju’s Map punched her ticket for the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies by winning the $400,000, Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes for Albaugh Family Stables. The victory provided her with paid, automatic entry into the Juvenile Fillies through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.

It’s a path Cox has taken to previous Breeders’ Cup success in California. Two years ago, he won the Alcibiades with British Idiom, and weeks later she repeated in the Juvenile Fillies. That capped a 3-for-3 season that earned her an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly.

Juju’s Map has a month to go and another race to win for Breeders’ Cup and championship glory — if the Liam’s Map filly is so fortunate — but the promise she showed Friday at Keeneland suggests she will head West as one of the favorites. She ran up the score Friday, winning by 4 1/4 lengths over Distinctlypossible.

Hustled early by Florent Geroux to secure position, the Cox trainee was able to outrun traffic in a deep field of 11 fillies, but the tactics came with a cost. She was close to a fast pace, inside front-running longshot Runup. Sensing the leader going quickly — Runup went the opening quarter-mile in :22.75 — Geroux eased her bac, and she settled into a clear-running second, 3 1/2 lengths off a half-mile split in :46.

While Runup tired, Juju’s Map did not. She took command after six furlongs in 1:11.23, and though others such as stablemate Matareya and Penny Saver mounted challenges late on the second turn, they couldn’t sustain the winner’s pace and finished off the board.

Juju’s Map kicked away, opening up a three-length advantage with a furlong to go and completing the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.52 before a crowd of 19,509.

“When I asked her down the lane, she gave me another gear, the kind of effort you want to see, and hopefully she’s going into the Breeders’ Cup in the right way,” Geroux said.

Juju’s Map, backed to favoritism after a second-out victory at Ellis Park in which she won handily by 5 3/4 lengths, returned $6.80 to win.

“I’m very proud of her performance,” Cox said. “We’ll obviously talk it over with the Albaugh team, and as long as she comes out of it in good order I think we’ll march on toward California.”

Special Reserve Holds off Late Charge of Aloha West in Phoenix Stakes

Special Reserve (Eclipse Sportswire)

Special Reserve, the 6-5 favorite, lived up to expectations Oct. 8, taking the $250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes on opening day of the Keeneland fall meet and earning a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint next month at Del Mar.

Paradise Farms and David Staudacher’s 5-year-old gelded son of Midshipman broke from the gate as the favorite on the strength of four wins and two seconds from six starts this year. His previous three starts, all in stakes, produced Equibase Speed Figures above 110 and included wins in the Maryland Sprint Match Series Stakes and Iowa Sprint Stakes and a second in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap.

Special Reserve with jockey Joel Rosario broke sharpest in the Phoenix, but they were quickly passed by longshot Quick Tempo and rider Sophie Doyle, who took the field through early fractions of :21.90 and :44.69. As the leaders rounded the turn in the six-furlong test, Special Reserve eased to the front and began pulling away.

Stout second-choice Aloha West, whose odds collapsed to 1.70-1 at the bell, however, launched a furious rally at the top of the stretch and appeared to cover two lengths for every one of Special Reserve’s. Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ 4-year-old son of Hard Spun  closed from sixth in the seven-horse field to finish a neck behind Special Reserve. He ran his final quarter in :23.09 compared with :23.81 for Special Reserve.

“He broke really well, and it looked like [Doyle on Quick Tempo] came up right away, and he was fine with that,” Rosario said. “He kind of settled a little bit there, nice and quiet, and then in the turn when the horse was backing up a little bit, he was just ready to go.”—Eric Mitchell

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