Road to the 2021 Breeders’ Cup: Historic Races Move to Spa, Juvenile Stakes Loom Large

Racing
Stephanie’s Kitten won the Flower Bowl Stakes for the second consecutive year in 2015; the mare would win the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in her next, and final, start. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The upcoming Labor Day weekend marks the traditional end of the elite summer race meets at Saratoga Race Course and Del Mar, and both tracks offer an abundance of graded stakes from Saturday through Labor Day that historically have had major significance in determining divisional leaders on the Road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

This is especially true for the pair of graded stakes offered at each track for 2-year-olds. None of the four races is a Challenge Series "Win and You're In" qualifier, as the powers-that-be at Breeders' Cup relegate their automatic bids to the winners of juvenile stakes held at a mile or longer. However, the $300,000, Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante Stakes and the $300,000, Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes on Sunday, both for juvenile fillies, as well as the $300,000, Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes and the $300,000, Grade 1 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity, both for 2-year-old males and on Labor Day, have sent many horses on to play major roles in both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

In addition to the juvenile stakes, two historic races that are part of the Challenge Series have moved from Belmont Park to Saratoga for 2021 to anchor its final Saturday card. The $1 million, Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes, held at 1 ¼ miles on dirt, is an automatic qualifier for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, while the $600,000, Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes, held for fillies and mares at 1 3/8 miles on turf, offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Several other upcoming stakes races at Saratoga and Del Mar have on occasion sent entrants on to the sport’s biggest stage, which this year will be at Del Mar on Nov. 5-6.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Flower Bowl will be broadcast live on NBCSN during a show that starts at 6 p.m. ET. 

The 14 Breeders’ Cup races attract the best Thoroughbreds in the world to compete for $31 million in purse money and awards, and the selection of starters in each race is determined in part by a points system for graded stakes and the selection criteria of a panel of experts. However, there is one way for an owner to bypass the secondary criteria and secure a spot for their horse in a Breeders’ Cup race, and that is by winning a stakes race in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.

Here’s some background on the extended weekend's stakes races that have been significant on the Road to the Breeders’ Cup:


Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes

The Jockey Club Gold Cup is arguably one of the top 10 most important races in the history the sport in North America. It was first run in 1919 and has been won by a group of horses that, taken in total, comprise a good chunk of real estate in the Racing Hall of Fame. Needless to say, the 1 ¼-mile test has been an important Breeders’ Cup Classic prep since 1984. (With the race moving to Saratoga for 2021, the configuration more closely mirrors the track at Del Mar as horses will travel the mile and a quarter distance around two turns at the Spa rather than around 1 ½ turns at Belmont.)

In the very first running of the Classic, Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Slew o’ Gold was part of a three-horse charge to the wire in deep stretch and was bumped hard by Gate Dancer, forcing him into longshot winner Wild Again. Slew o’ Gold, the dominant part of a 3-5 favored entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, was placed second. He was voted champion older male of 1984 and entered the Hall of Fame in 1992.

In 1985 and 1986, Jockey Club Gold Cup runners-up Gate Dancer and Turkoman each finished second as well in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and 1989 dominant Jockey Club Gold Cup winner and future Hall of Famer Easy Goer did the same, losing to Sunday Silence in arguably the most exciting Breeders’ Cup Classic ever.

The 1992 Jockey Club Gold Cup was the pivotal race for that year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. Pleasant Tap won the Gold Cup by a commanding 4 ½ lengths over 1991 Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold, with 1992 Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy another 2 ¼ lengths back in third after stumbling at the break. But in the ninth Breeders’ Cup Classic, held at Gulfstream Park, it was A.P. Indy who took command in the stretch to pull away and win by two lengths over Pleasant Tap. A.P. Indy would be voted Horse of the Year in 1992 and subsequently became one of the most influential sires in North American Thoroughbred breeding.

Tabasco Cat, fourth in the 1994 Jockey Club Gold Cup, lost by a neck to Concern in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. And then in 1995, a Jockey Club Gold Cup winner broke through to take the Breeders’ Cup Classic for the first time. That horse, of course, was the “unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar,” as racecaller Tom Durkin so memorably described in the ’95 Classic. Cigar merely went 10-for-10 that year, with his closest margin of victory a length in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. By the next fall, Cigar’s streak of perfection had ended in the Pacific Classic, and he finished second by a head to Skip Away in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and then third by a head to Alphabet Soup and Louis Quatorze in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. That would be Cigar’s final start, and due to infertility he would become one of the most popular residents of the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington until his death in 2014.

Skip Away repeated in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 1997, setting the stakes record time of 1:58.89, and won the Breeders’ Cup Classic that year as well to join Cigar in the exclusive club. Carolyn Hine’s future Hall of Famer would then finish third in the 1998 Jockey Club Gold Cup and sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but win Horse of the Year for his overall campaign.

Moving on several years, 2005 Jockey Club Gold Cup fourth-place finisher Flower Alley came in second to Saint Liam in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. A year later, Bernardini easily prevailed in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and then yielded to Invasor in the Classic. Both of those horses did so as 3-year-olds.

In 2007, another 3-year-old went one better and became the third Jockey Club Gold Cup-Breeders’ Cup Classic winner. Curlin had already run third in the Kentucky Derby, first in the Preakness, and second in the Belmont as he entered the autumn racing season and had a strong argument to make as champion 3-year-old among a very high-quality group. But then Curlin defeated older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup for the partnership of Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables, Padua Stables, George Bolton, and Midnight Cry Stables, winning by a neck over Lawyer Ron. He came back to defeat many of his 3-year-old rivals convincingly in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on a sloppy Monmouth Park main track. Curlin was named champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year by Eclipse Award voters, and would extend his dominance well into his 4-year-old campaign. He repeated in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and then ran fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Santa Anita Park’s then-artificial main track to conclude his career with another Horse of the Year award.

Claiborne Farm’s and Adele Dilschneider’s Blame finished second in the 2010 Jockey Club Gold Cup to New York mainstay Haynesfield, but he returned in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs to hand champion racemare and eventual Horse of the Year Zenyatta her only defeat in arguably one of the most exciting races of this century. A year later, it was the Jockey Club Gold Cup runner-up once again who took the Classic at Churchill, as Drosselmeyer backed up his 2010 Belmont Stakes win with another long-distance triumph in the 2011 Classic. And in 2012, Jockey Club Gold Cup third-place finisher Fort Larned scored a career-defining win when shipped to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, turning back Mucho Macho Man (who would win the Classic a year later) by a half-length at odds of 9.40-1.

Effinex, third to Tonalist in the 2015 Jockey Club Gold Cup, was a distant second to Grand Slam champ American Pharoah in the ’15  Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland. The 2016 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Hoppertunity finished fourth in that year's Breeders’ Cup Classic. And in 2018, globe-trotting Thunder Snow lost the Jockey Club Gold Cup in the final strides to 45.50-1 longshot Discreet Lover, giving longtime owner-trainer Uriah St. Lewis a breakthrough victory. Thunder Snow then ran a good third behind Accelerate in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.

The 2019 Jockey Club Gold Cup was one of the most exciting in recent memory, as Vino Rosso edged Travers Stakes winner Code of Honor by a nose after an extended stretch duel. Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s charge subsequently was disqualified by Belmont Park stewards for bumping Code of Honor in deep stretch, but he would clearly establish supremacy five weeks later at Santa Anita, winning the Longines Classic by 4 ¼ lengths (Code of Honor was seventh). Vino Rosso, who made his final career start in the Classic, was voted champion older dirt male at the Eclipse Awards.

Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes

The Flower Bowl Stakes, first held in 1978, has been without a doubt one of the most influential Breeders’ Cup preps in the entire event since the Filly and Mare Turf was first run in 1999. Nearly every year it seems, a filly or mare exiting the Flower Bowl goes on to hit the board in the Filly and Mare Turf, which is contested at distances between 1 1/8 and 1 3/8 miles, depending on the host track.

Many Flower Bowl competitors to shine in the Breeders’ Cup have not necessarily been the race winners. But that was not the case in 1999, when James Toner-trained Soaring Softly won the Flower Bowl by a length and then posted a three-quarter-length win in the inaugural Filly and Mare Turf with Jerry Bailey in the irons. The Kris S. filly defeated Irish-bred Coretta in both races.

In 2002, Flower Bowl fourth-place finisher Starine spoiled Banks Hill’s attempt at a Filly and Mare Turf repeat with a 1 ½-length win over that champion, resulting in a Bobby Frankel-trained exacta. And from 2004-’06, the ultra-consistent racemare Film Maker exited the Flower Bowl three times – where she finished fourth, third, and second – to finish second, third, and second again in the Filly and Mare Turf (2006 Flower Bowl winner Honey Ryder finished third in the ’06 Breeders’ Cup behind the great Ouija Board and Film Maker).

In 2007, Lahudood became the second dual winner of the Flower Bowl and Filly and Mare Turf, taking the latter race on a very soft Monmouth Park turf course by three-quarters of a length over Honey Ryder. In 2009, Flower Bowl winner Pure Clan was runner-up to England’s Midday in the Filly and Mare Turf, and Midday returned in 2010 on the heels of three consecutive Group 1 wins in Europe. The Henry Cecil trainee was sent off as the 9-10 favorite at Churchill Downs, but it was Flower Bowl fifth-place finisher Shared Account who won the photo finish by a neck in a 46-1 upset for Sagamore Farm and Graham Motion to spoil Midday’s bid for a repeat.

In 2012, Flower Bowl runner-up and French import Zagora won the Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita by three-quarters of a length for owner Martin Schwartz and trainer Chad Brown. Since then, Brown has won three more Filly and Mare Turfs – in 2014 with Dayatthespa, 2015 with Stephanie’s Kitten, and 2018 with Sistercharlie. Dayatthespa defeated ’14 Flower Bowl winner Stephanie’s Kitten in the Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita, completing an all-Chad Brown exacta in emulation of his mentor Bobby Frankel a dozen years earlier.

A year later, Stephanie’s Kitten closed out what is almost certain to be a Hall of Fame career with a Flower Bowl-Filly and Mare Turf double. Her final win was at Keeneland, which held the Breeders’ Cup for the first time in 2015. Keeneland is also the home base of Stephanie’s Kitten’s owners-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey, which made for a poignant winners’ circle celebration at the picturesque Lexington track.

In 2016, Brown’s champion Lady Eli won the Flower Bowl but came up a nose short to Queen’s Trust in the Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita. And the 2019 Flower Bowl winner, 1-5 favorite Sistercharlie, ran a late-closing third for Brown behind British invader Iridessa two months later in her bid for a Filly and Mare Turf repeat. 

Last year’s Flower Bowl winner, Civil Union, ran a solid fifth in the Filly and Mare Turf at Keeneland, beaten only by 1 ¾ lengths.


Juvenile Stakes

One of Saratoga’s many historic stakes, the Spinaway Stakes was first held in 1881. Now contested at seven furlongs, it is a key prep in unveiling 2-year-old fillies who show the potential to become more than sprinters and has thus made an impact on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies over the past 30-plus years. The first Spinaway winner to hit the board in the Juvenile Fillies was Tappiano, who won at Saratoga and finished runner-up to Brave Raj in the third Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park. 1989 Spinaway winner Stella Madrid finished third in that fall’s Juvenile Fillies at Gulfstream Park behind the great Go for Wand and Sweet Roberta. And in the next year, a filly broke through to win both races.

Meadow Star entered the 1990 Spinaway having won her first three career starts, including two in graded stakes. Carl Icahn’s Florida-bred daughter of Meadowlake took the Spinaway, then run at six furlongs, by two lengths before shipping to Belmont Park. There, she absolutely dominated both the Grade 1 Matron Stakes (by six lengths) and the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes (by 14 lengths), which made her a prohibitive favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, which was also held at Belmont. Under confident handling from Jose Santos, who’d been aboard for her three prior wins, 1-5 shot Meadow Star won going away by five lengths to cap a perfect season. She was a shoo-in recipient of the 1990 Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly, and as a 3-year-old would participate in one of the most memorable races of the era when besting Lite Light in what sportswriters termed "the Mother of all Gooses" (Mother Goose Stakes) at Belmont.

In 1994, William T. Young’s Flanders echoed Meadow Star’s brilliance by winning both the Spinaway and the Juvenile Fillies en route to an Eclipse Award. After breaking her maiden at Saratoga, she won the Spinaway by 4 ¾ lengths and then finished first in the Matron at Belmont in similarly dominant fashion, only to be disqualified and placed last due to a medication violation. She came back to pulverize three opponents in the Frizette at Belmont by 21 lengths, and then, in a memorable race under Churchill Downs’ Twin Spires, was all out under Pat Day to hold off future Hall of Famer and fellow D. Wayne Lukas trainee Serena’s Song by a head in the Juvenile Fillies. Unfortunately, Flanders suffered two bone fractures in the Juvenile Fillies and was retired in 1995. She produced champion filly Surfside (second in the ’99 Spinaway and third in the Juvenile Fillies) as a broodmare.

A year later, Spinaway winner Golden Attraction finished third in the Juvenile Fillies, and in 1997 Countess Diana became the third filly to complete the Spinaway-Juvenile Fillies-Eclipse Award championship trifecta. Co-owned and bred by Richard Kaster and trained during her 2-year-old season by Patrick Byrne, the Deerhound filly only lost once in 1997 – by a half-length in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs – but otherwise dominated the opposition, culminating with an 8 ½-length romp in the Juvenile Fillies at Hollywood Park. In 2003, Ashado won the Spinaway by 1 ¼ lengths and finished second to Halfbridled in the Juvenile Fillies; she would go on to earn more than $3.9 million and win two Eclipse Awards before entering the Hall of Fame in 2014.

Folklore, champion juvenile filly in 2005, ran second to Adieu in the Spinaway but turned the tables on that foe and had her way with the rest of the Juvenile Fillies field at her home track of Belmont Park when winning by 1 ¼ lengths. Four years later, Beautician was runner-up in both the 2009 Spinaway (to Hot Dixie Chick) and Juvenile Fillies (to She Be Wild). And in 2010 and 2011, Spinaway winners R Heat Lightning and Grace Hall each finished second to eventual Eclipse Award winners Awesome Feather and My Miss Aurelia in the Juvenile Fillies.

More recently, in 2015 Spinaway winner Rachel’s Valentina, the daughter of Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra, finished second behind champion Songbird in the Juvenile Fillies. In 2018, Spinaway runner-up Restless Rider finished second in the Juvenile Fillies, scoring in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland between those starts. 

2019 Spinaway winner Perfect Alibi finished fourth in the Juvenile Fillies, and last year, Vequist ended a 22-year drought to become the fourth filly to win both races. She outfinished favorite Frank’s Rockette in the Spinaway and then mustered another strong closing kick to score in the Juvenile Fillies by two lengths. The Robert Reid Jr.-trained daughter of Nyquist earned an Eclipse Award for her efforts.


Saratoga’s Hopeful Stakes dates back to 1903 and has had just as much crossover with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as the Spinaway has had with the Juvenile Fillies. In fact, the connection started in 1984, the inaugural year of the Breeders’ Cup, when Chief’s Crown won the Hopeful by 3 ¼ lengths and then, four races later, took the Juvenile at Hollywood Park by three-quarters of a length over Tank’s Prospect. He received the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male that year and went on to place in all three Triple Crown races in 1985, win the Travers Stakes and then later become a successful sire.

Over the next 25 years, several horses stood out in both the Hopeful and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile during their freshman campaigns: Success Express (third in the 1987 Hopeful, first in the Juvenile); Hennessy (won the 1995 Hopeful, second by a neck to Unbridled’s Song in the Juvenile); High Yield (won the 1999 Hopeful, third in the Juvenile); Macho Uno (third in the 2000 Hopeful, won the Juvenile); the great Afleet Alex (won the 2004 Hopeful, second in the Juvenile); First Samurai (won the 2005 Hopeful, third in the Juvenile); Circular Quay (won the 2006 Hopeful, second in the Juvenile); and Boys At Tosconova (won the 2010 Hopeful, second in the Juvenile). The best 2-year-old from this era was most likely Joseph LaCombe’s Favorite Trick, who won his first five races in 1997 before taking the Hopeful by 1 ½ lengths. He then won the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland before capping off an unbeaten juvenile season with a 5 ½-length romp in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Hollywood Park. That string of dominance was good enough to earn the Patrick Byrne trainee Horse of the Year honors at the 1997 Eclipse Awards in addition to recognition as champion 2-year-old male.

In 2012, Shanghai Bobby became the first horse since Favorite Trick to win both the Hopeful and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, taking the latter race by a head over He’s Had Enough. Logically, he was honored as 2012 champion 2-year-old male. Since then, Strong Mandate (2013) and Practical Joke (2016) buttressed wins in the Hopeful with third-place finishes in the Juvenile weeks later. 

Last year’s Hopeful champ Jackie’s Warrior was the 9-10 favorite in the TVG Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at Keeneland, but he tired late to finish fourth behind current 3-year-old divisional leader Essential Quality. While he turned out to be unsuited for two-turn route races, Jackie’s Warrior has hardly disappeared; he’s won three out of his last four races against some of the toughest sprinters in training, including the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes just last week.


Del Mar’s two races for juveniles, the Runhappy Del Mar Futurity and Del Mar Debutante Stakes, have also had major impacts on the juvenile championship races at the Breeders’ Cup through the years. Tasso won both the Del Mar Futurity and the Juvenile in 1985, the second year of the Breeders' Cup at Aqueduct. Bertrando won the Del Mar Futurity and finished runner-up to champion Arazi in the 1991 Juvenile. Kafwain finished second in both races in 2002, and Minister Eric did the same in 2003. And the second half of the 2000s would be a very productive era for juvenile males coming out of Del Mar, as Stevie Wonderboy (2005) and Midshipman (2008) won both the Del Mar Futurity and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Lookin At Lucky nearly completed the double, losing the Juvenile to Vale of York by a head in 2009. All three colts won Eclipse Awards for their division.

More recently, American Pharoah won the Del Mar Futurity in 2014 but skipped the Juvenile only to regroup and race into the history books in 2015. During "Pharoah's" amazing Grand Slam season, Nyquist scored easily in the Del Mar Futurity by 3 ¾ lengths, the third of eight consecutive wins to begin his career that included a Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile win and ended with his driving win in the 2016 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. The 2017 Del Mar Futurity winner, Bolt d’Oro, finished third in the Sentient Jet Juvenile, held at Del Mar for the first time, as the 7-10 favorite.

In 2018, Game Winner became the fifth 2-year-old to win both the Del Mar Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in the same year, scoring a mild upset over stablemate Roadster at Del Mar and taking the Juvenile by 2 ¼ lengths at Churchill Downs. He was an easy choice as champion 2-year-old male among Eclipse Award voters.

In the 2019 Del Mar Futurity, Peter Eurton-trained Storm the Court tossed his jockey when he was bumped by favorite Eight Rings shortly after the start (Eight Rings also lost his rider). Storm the Court was a longshot in the Futurity at 14.20-1, and he was an even bigger longshot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita two starts later – which he won at odds of 45.90-1.

As for the West Coast fillies, in 1986 Brave Raj won both the Del Mar Debutante and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and 1991 Del Mar Debutante victress La Spia finished a head shy of Pleasant Stage in that fall’s Juvenile Fillies. The 1993 Del Mar Debutante proved to be the key race for 2-year-old fillies, as Sardula easily defeated Phone Chatter at Del Mar only to lose by a head to that foe in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. Excellent Meeting, the 1998 Del Mar Debutante winner, finished second to Hall of Famer Silverbulletday in the Juvenile Fillies, and a year later, Chilukki would suffer the only loss of her champion 2-year-old campaign in the Juvenile Fillies when second to Cash Run (she won the Del Mar Debutante by a length over Spain).

In the 2000s, Tempera finished third in the 2001 Del Mar Debutante but won the Juvenile Fillies to kick off a string of major crossover between the two events. Halfbridled (2003) and Sweet Catomine (2004) won both the Del Mar Debutante and the Juvenile Fillies, and 2005 Debutante winner Wild Fit finished second to the aforementioned Folklore in the Juvenile Fillies. Tempera, Halfbridled, and Sweet Catomine all received Eclipse Awards for those campaigns.

Over the past 12 years, elite fillies have continued to ship out of Del Mar and onto the center stage of the sport. Stardom Bound won the Eclipse Award in 2008 after scoring the Del Mar Debutante-Juvenile Fillies double. Blind Luck would run second in the Del Mar Debutante the following year and third in the Juvenile Fillies but won an Eclipse Award at age 3. In 2012, Executiveprivilege defeated Beholder by a nose at 4-5 odds in the Del Mar Debutante (Beholder was 8.10-1, believe it or not). Weeks later, B. Wayne Hughes’ Beholder turned the tables by a length in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and claimed the first of her four Eclipse Awards. 

She’s a Tiger won the Del Mar Debutante a year later and then was disqualified from first in the Juvenile Fillies after drifting out and bumping Ria Antonia in the final yards. She was voted champion 2-year-old filly anyway. In 2015, Rick Porter’s Songbird won both the Del Mar Debutante and the Juvenile Fillies in the early stages of a future Hall of Fame career that would see her hook up with Beholder in the 2016 Longines Distaff for one of the most thrilling races this century. Also in 2016, Peter Eurton-trained Champagne Room checked in third behind Union Strike and American Cleopatra at Del Mar before scoring a 33.60-1 upset in the 14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita.


The other graded stakes this holiday weekend include the Del Mar Derby Presented by Caesars Sportsbook for 3-year-olds on turf, which has been won by future Breeders’ Cup victors Da Hoss and Val Royal. The John C. Mabee Stakes at Del Mar for older turf females has featured greats such as Escena (won the Mabee in 1997, ran second on dirt in that year’s Distaff and won the Distaff in 1998) and Intercontinental (ran third in the 2005 Mabee and won that fall’s Filly and Mare Turf). Avenge won the Mabee in 2016 and ran a good third in the Filly and Mare Turf, and Cambodia repeated that exact same feat in 2017. Vasilika, winner of the 2019 Mabee, did even better in that fall’s Filly and Mare Turf, coming up a neck short of winner Iridessa at Santa Anita. Lady Prancelot finished second by a neck in last year’s Mabee and then ran huge at 73.90-1 odds to fill out the superfecta in the Filly and Mare Turf, finishing only a length out of first.

The Bernard Baruch Handicap at the Spa has been won by Breeders’ Cup Mile winners such as Steinlen and Lure – and in 2014, two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner and Horse of the Year Wise Dan held on to win the Baruch in the second-to-last start of his incredible career. Breeders’ Cup stars such as Indian Blessing, Safely Kept, and Xtra Heat have won the Prioress Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga. 

Finally, the winner of last year’s With Anticipation Stakes for 2-year-olds did so on Saratoga’s main track as the race was washed off the grass. That colt, Fire At Will, next won a Grade 3 race on turf at Belmont Park but still entered the 2020 World Championships under the radar. Sent off at odds of 30.20-1 in the Juvenile Turf Presented by Coolmore America, Fire At Will powered clear in midstretch to score by three lengths under Ricardo Santana Jr., giving trainer Mike Maker his third career Breeders’ Cup victory.

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