Breeders' Cup Notes
Nov 2, 2017
Arrogate, Collected, Mubtaahij, West Coast – All four of trainer Bob Baffert’s runners for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic went out for 1 1/2m gallops at Del Mar Thursday morning. Baffert said that everything was fine with his quartet as he seeks his record-extending fourth-straight Classic victory.
“They all look good,” Baffert said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if West Coast were to win. I’ve won it with 3-year-olds and he looks good.”
All three of Baffert’s wins have been with 3-year-olds: Bayern (2014); American Pharoah (2015); Arrogate (2016).
“You don’t know about the other horses,” Baffert said. “Gun Runner should love it. This (track) is made for a horse like Collected or Gun Runner, where they can get out there and their speed is dangerous. They can zip around those turns. Gun Runner is the horse to beat.”
Arrogate and West Coast went out for their morning exercise under Dana Barnes, Manny Avila rode Mubtaahij and Augustine Laura was up on Collected.
Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate, the leading career earning Thoroughbred in North American history at $17.3 million will make his final career start in the Classic before being retired to stud for the
2018 season. He is seeking to become the second two-time winner of the Classic. Hall of Fame member Tiznow won the Classic in 2000 at Churchill Downs and the 2001 Classic at Belmont Park.
After winning seven consecutive races, including the 2016 Classic, the inaugural Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup, Arrogate has lost his last two starts, both at Del Mar. The first was a 15 1/4-length setback in the San Diego Handicap on July 22, his first start after the trip to Dubai. He finished second, beaten a length by Collected in the Pacific Classic on Aug. 19.
Baffert said the colt may have not liked the track in the San Diego, but said he was at fault for Arrogate’s performance.
“The surface that first race was weird,” Baffert said. “It’s not like that at all (now). They had just put in a new track. But he was way behind and you could’t do that. You had to be up close. He still could have run better, but I think a lot of it is the way I prepared him. I take the blame for him getting beat the first time. The second time, it looked like he wasn’t going to run and all of a sudden he started running at the end.
“I think he should run well.”
Twenty-five years ago, not long after transitioning from Quarter Horses to Thoroughbreds, Baffert won the 1992 Sprint with Thirty Slews. Now he has 14 victories, second only to D. Wayne Lukas in the Breeders’ Cup history, is the leading money winner, has the record for most purse money earned and this year will saddle 11 runners, including a record four in the Classic.
Baffert smiled when asked to put it all in perspective, especially the four Classic starters.
“First of all, I would never have dreamt that I was going to be a horse trainer,” he said. “Maybe a Quarter Horse trainer, because I loved Quarter Horses. But being a Thoroughbred trainer? I never thought about that. That’s a whole different league, a whole different level. It’s like being in the majors.
“I still can’t believe that I have accomplished what I have accomplished. Every once in a while I will look back and say, ‘Wow, look at all this stuff!’ Those memories go by so fast and we never really stop and smell the roses. We’re just constantly going, worrying about this and that. I’ve never had a chance to really get into it, but I know one thing: since Arrogate got beat his last two times I’m really appreciating that Dubai World Cup more and more.”
Churchill – Breeders’ Cup Classic hope Churchill with Donnacha O’Brien in the saddle was the second of the O’Brien string out on to the track. Having walked and jogged a circuit of the track he appeared to get a little warm, but having gone for a gentle canter seemed a lot more relaxed.
Aidan O’Brien who was outside the European barn after the exercise said: “We were very happy with his run at Ascot last time. He did not get the greatest of runs and got stopped twice over a furlong out. We were very pleased with that performance, and as long as we were happy with the horse after the race, it was always a possibility that we would come for the Classic”
Gunnevera – Gunnevera galloped 1 ½m under exercise rider Victor O’Farrel Thursday at Del Mar after completing Wednesday’s morning exercise with a 3/8m open gallop.
“He just wanted an easy gallop after his open gallop (Wednesday). He looked very good going over the track,” trainer Antonio Sano said. “The exercise rider said he was even better today than he was [Wednesday]. He is 100 percent.”
Gunnevera, a multiple graded-stakes winner who finished second behind West Coast in the Aug. 26 Travers at Saratoga in his most recent start, is owned by Venezuelan businessman Salomon del Valle, who has been on hand at Del Mar to observe the 3yo son of Dialed In’s preparation for a start in Saturday’s Classic.
“I can’t put into words what this horse means to me,” said del Valle in words translated by Sano’s son Alex.
“I am happy to own a horse like him,” added del Valle, who bought out his partners in Peacock Racing Stable and chose the stable name of Margoth, his late mother’s first name. “He is going to run a very big race.”
Gunnevera is del Valle’s only racehorse at the present, but his owner recently purchased three yearlings, two fillies and a colt, at auction.
Gun Runner – Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Gun Runner, the 9-5 morning-line favorite for the $6 million Classic, went through his morning routine smoothly as he prepares for what appears to be his toughest test. The earner of $5,688,500 schooled at the gate and galloped about 1 1/4m Thursday morning.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, the four-time Grade 1-winning son of Candy Ride is piloted by two-time reigning Fair Grounds title holder Florent Geroux, whose three Breeders’ Cup wins include the 2014 Sprint on Work All Week and a pair of 2015 wins — the Juvenile Fillies Turf with Catch a Glimpse and Turf Sprint with Mongolian Saturday.
Gun Runner and Geroux have teamed up in 14 consecutive starts, including eight graded stakes victories, seconds in the Dubai World Cup and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and thirds in the Kentucky Derby and Travers. Speaking to their versatility and rapport, their victories include five front-running scores, two stalking wins and one closing victory.
“He means a lot to me and is the best horse I’ve ever ridden,” Geroux said. “He’s taken us to so many places, from the (Kentucky) Derby, to the Travers as a 3yo to Dubai this year. With him you always know he’s in with a chance. He always runs hard and tries and we have been lucky enough to win many graded stakes along the way. He’s proven himself and now is the favorite in the (Breeders’ Cup) Classic.
“He’s really matured very nicely,” Geroux continued. “Sometimes they get better from two to three and then from three to four and he did — but he really got bigger, stronger and faster from three to four and you can see that in his races. He has more speed now, but you can do what you want with it. He keeps you out of trouble and he has plenty of stamina.
“I think a mile and a quarter is always a question mark because it’s a tough distance for any horse, but he ran a great race in Dubai and the track wasn’t fast that day. It was deeper and looser than what he will run over at Del Mar and he galloped out great that day.”
Pavel – With all his serious preparation done, Pavel was content to put in his regular gallop of 1 ½m Thursday morning as his Classic showdown moved to within a couple of days of fruition. He’ll go to the gate for the $6 million Classic in a field of 11 of the world’s best Thoroughbreds.
Pavel’s resume shows the fewest starts among the contestants – only four, with two victories. Saturday’s run on Del Mar’s main track will be the first for the son of Creative Cause, but he spent the summer training at the seaside track so he is familiar with the surface.
His regular exercise rider, Gabriel Planchard, was aboard for the morning gallop and his regular rider, Mario Gutierrez will ride Saturday.
War Decree – War Decree, like his stablemate Churchill, cleared quarantine Wednesday night and took his first gallop over the Del Mar main track Thursday morning.
War Story – The Brooklyn winner War Story is up against it versus the top dirt horses in the world, but will at least be testing them at his best.
“You never know,” trainer Jorge Navarro said. “It happened with Arcangues and it happened with Volponi. It could happen to me!”
The 5yo gelding War Story had a snappy breeze Saturday that impressed Navarro and gave him hope that he might pick up a sizable check, as he did in January when fifth in the world’s richest race, the Pegasus World Cup Invitational.
“I worked him on this track and he really caught my attention,” Navarro said. “Paco Lopez said the longer he went the better he got. I can’t ask more of the way he’s training.”
“If we run fifth we make the same as we would make winning the Marathon (on Friday’s undercard). I do believe he’ll be a top horse when he’s running in better spots.”
Win the Space – Trainer George Papaprodromou is hoping the second time is the charm for his 5yo roan son Pulpit as the horse heads into his second try at the Classic. The trainer is hoping, also, that Win the Space doesn’t have to endure another bad trip that last year began with a bump and a push to the outside shortly after the gates opened.
That experience led to his being eased in the stretch.
“I’m hoping for a much cleaner trip this year, obviously,” Papaprodromou said.
Win the Space used a 1 ½m gallop for his morning exercise Thursday with exercise rider Shane Parks in the saddle.
Abel Tasman – The China Horse Club International and Clearsky Farms’ filly trained by Bob Baffert will try to become the 11th 3yo filly to win the Distaff. She has won four Grade I races this year and was second in her most recent start, the Cotillion, Sept. 23 at Parx.
“She’s one of our favorites in the barn. She’s so sweet,” Baffert said. “She has the temperament of American Pharoah. She’s doing really well, but she comes off the pace. She needs a lot of pace to run at. If she doesn’t get the pace she’s in trouble.”
Baffert said that while there could be a lively pace in the Distaff, a closer like Abel Tasman could have trouble making up ground at Del Mar.
“Speed is dangerous here,” he said. “They keep going here.”
Abel Tasman galloped 1 1/2m under Dana Barnes Thursday morning.
Champagne Room – Sharon Alesia, Ciaglia Racing, Exline-Border Racing, Gulliver Racing and Robin Christensen’s Champagne Room jogged a mile early Thursday morning under exercise rider Eddie Inda for trainer Peter Eurton.
Champagne Room will break from the rail under Mario Gutierrez and for Eurton the key to the 1 1/8m race will be the first part.
“I’d like to see her relax early, be running free and not covered up,” Eurton said of Champagne Room, who could join Beholder (2012-13) as the only filly to win the Juvenile Fillies and come back the next year and win the Distaff.
“I just hope there is no speed duel. I’d like to see Paradise Woods go out there and then maybe we can move two or three paths off the inside and not have somebody right alongside. The first half-mile will be everything.”
Elate – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Elate went about her business as usual on Thursday morning, galloping a little over a mile on Del Mar’s main track. Trainer Bill Mott followed while assistant trainer and son Riley led the dual Grade I-winning daughter of Medaglia d’Oro.
“All’s well,” Mott reported.
Elate looks extend Mott’s record that stands at five Breeders’ Cup Distaff wins, including Ajina (1997), Escena (1998), Unrivaled Belle (2010) and Royal Delta (2011 and 2012).
“I think you always kind of draw comparisons between the good ones,” Mott said. “But she’s a very straight-forward filly.”
Forever Unbridled – Charles Fipke’s Forever Unbridled continued to impress onlookers with her early morning work leading up to her second try in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. The 5yo mare left under the cover of darkness at 6a.m. and galloped an easy 1 1/4m under Emerson Chavez, with trainer Dallas Stewart watching from the rail and assistant trainer Bentley Combs on pony.
Giving a brief moment of excitement for onlookers, the daughter of Unbridled’s Song wheeled while jogging the opposite direction with her pony as she passed the finish line, just prior to turning around and breaking off into a gallop.
“She does that almost every day,” assured Combs, who is starting his own stable Nov. 4. “It’s her thing and we always know it’s coming. She keeps you on your toes.”
Mopotism – All eyes from trainer Doug O’Neill’s staff will be on Reddam Racing’s competitor Mopotism in hopes of seeing her fulfill what most believe is her potential.
Assistant trainer Leandro Mora, deputizing for O’Neill, said of the 3yo daughter of Uncle Mo: “She’s a filly that’s been against all the odds, all of the best around. We got her the same time as Nyquist (winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and 2016 Kentucky Derby) so she’s been around.
“She’s always shown us that she’s capable of doing more than she’s shown us. When she worked against Pavel (last week), I thought to myself I believe she’s got a chance. She went head-and-head with Pavel and looked very good. Overall, she’s been training really well.”
As to how the race might develop, Mora said, “She’s not a front-runner. She’ll probably be behind all of those champions from all over, but if nobody takes it [the lead], we could. We’ll leave that up to our Italian jockey (Frankie Dettori). I think he’ll try to keep her in a spot where she’ll have a chance.”
Paradise Woods – With only six career starts under her girth, Paradise Woods, in trainer Richard Mandella’s words, “is a very good filly, who is in the learning process of racing. She’s excitable, but not to a fault.
“She’s had a day or two that didn’t go right but she’s had some that went very right. We’re hoping for a good one on Friday.
“She likes the lead. She’ll probably be there. She’ll break good and I’m expecting her to be on the lead. We’ll have to see if that spot’s occupied.”
The 3yo daughter of Union Rags finished her final preparations Thursday morning by going 1 ½m at a steady gallop under exercise rider Janeen Painter.
Romantic Vision – The Spinster winner galloped 1 3/8m early this morning and continues to please trainer Rusty Arnold.
“She’s very happy,” he said. “She’s handled the track good and she schooled great yesterday. She is going to run her race; it’s just a matter of how good that is.”
Romantic Vision drew the outside post eight for the 1 1/8m Distaff.
“I love the post,” Arnold said. “There’s a lot of speed in this race and we will not be near the lead this time. It’s a different group and a different type of speed in here (than the Spinster). I see us laying fourth or fifth and we’ll try to make a run at them.”
Arnold trained Romantic Vision’s dam, grand dam, and great grand dam, all owned and bred by G. Watts Humphrey. The Humphrey family has owned every mare on Romantic Vision’s female side going back six decades.
“They are an extremely sound group of distance dirt horses that get better as they get older,” Arnold said. Likely Exchange won the Delaware Handicap at 5, Clear Mandate (out of Likely Exchange) won the Spinster at 5, this filly won the Spinster at 5. All of them had their best years at 5. Creme Fraiche (the 1985 Belmont Stakes winner, out of Likely Exchange) and Dream Scheme (a Grade 2 winner) also are from that family.”
Stellar Wind – The favorite for the Distaff galloped 1 1/2m at 5:30 a.m. on her final morning officially in training.
The Distaff will be only Stellar Wind’s fourth start of the year and could cap off an undefeated season.
“The design was to have her ready in March for the Santa Margarita,” trainer John Sadler said. But we had historic rains in January and February and I didn’t want to put her over a lot of sealed tracks. She didn’t make the Santa Margarita so we went to the Apple Blossom. So she lost a little time at the beginning of the year due to weather.
“After that it was pretty routine – the Beholder and the Clement Hirsch. The other deviation was to skip the Zenyatta and train up to this. The Zenyatta was a little bit of a hard prep for her last year, when she had to work really hard to beat Beholder. We’re going in fresher this year. Right or wrong I’m not really stressing. She’s great and it would be nice if she wins but it’s all gravy at this point.”
With all the horses having cleared quarantine a total of 35 European Breeders’ Cup challengers were seen out on the Del Mar track Thursday morning with the added excitement of seeing the 13-strong contingent from Ballydoyle out on the track for the first time since arriving on Monday evening.
Home of The Brave (Mile) was first out on to the track at 6:45 but he went to the starting gate first before heading on to the main track where he stretched his legs with a steady canter. Hugo Palmer, who leaves California tonight to supervise his runners in Australia, was pleased with the son of Starspangledbanner.
Gordon Elliott was also trackside to see his first Breeders’ Cup runner Beckford (Juvenile Turf) canter two laps of the main track with Lisa O’Neill in the saddle.
“I am very happy with him at the moment. He is really well and I am very happy to be here,” Elliott said.
Sands of Mali (Juvenile Turf) also went through his paces with his Yorkshire handler Richard Fahey also in attendance.
A total of 13 European horses went out on to the turf this morning. The Godolphin pair of Masar (Juvenile Turf) and Wuheida (Filly & Mare Turf) did a lap and a half of the turf with Queen’s Trust (Filly & Mare Turf) also doing a steady canter.
Decorated Knight (Turf) looked extremely happy when striding out on the turf under his big race jockey Andrea Atzeni, and preparations appear to going according to plan. Frankie Dettori, the most successful British-based jockey at the Breeders’ Cup was on board Juliet Capulet (Juvenile Fillies Turf) for trainer John Gosden and the daughter of Dark Angel appeared relaxed and settled as she did a lap and a half of the turf.
Rajasinghe (Juvenile Turf), Nezwaah (Filly & Mare Turf) and Madeline (Juvenile Fillies Turf) all seemed happy as they stretched their legs on the Del Mar turf.
Roger Varian is looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf with his charge Madeline, who had a roll in the sand ring back at the Quarantine Barn after her morning’s exercise. “She’s looking well, or was before she just covered herself in sand,” he remarked. Madeline has been catching the eye all week, looking at home in her Del Mar surroundings, and appearing to be thriving in California.
Turf Sprint challenger Cotai Glory found the tight bends of the Del Mar track a bit difficult to negotiate at first but having gone a circuit seemed a lot more at ease with the track.
Pascal Bary and Francis-Henri Graffard were both trackside to see Senga (Filly & Mare Turf) and Karar (Mile) stretch out on the turf.
Graffard said of Karar, who comes here off a close up third-place finish in the Group1 Prix de La Foret on his last start, “Karar is in good form, much better form than last year, but his draw in post 14 is not ideal.”
Suedois (Mile) looked in great shape as he cantered around the turf and Fergal Davis who has been overseeing Suedois’ preparation in the absence of trainer David O’Meara could not be more pleased with the son of Le Havre.
“He is really well in himself and I am happy, happy, happy. He will love the track and I don’t think he has been in better shape. I think he has got a great chance on Saturday.” Davis said.
Ulysees (Turf), who finished fourth in the race last year as a 3yo did his most serious piece of work since arriving, and with Kevin Bradshaw in the saddle did a nice breeze down the home stretch before returning to the barn.
With the turf track shut Ribchester was first out on to the dirt and did a steady canter of the main track before returning to the barn.
Trainer Richard Fahey was at the track for the first time on Thursday to see his Mile contender Ribchester bounce onto the track for a routine canter around the main track. “He’s fit, and he seems to have taken his last race in his stride. He’s traveled well out here, and I’m happy enough with him,” he said of Europe’s leading hope in the Mile.
Joseph O’Brien, who is no stranger to the Breeders’ Cup, was on a pony to escort Now You’re Talking (Juvenile Fillies Turf) around two laps of the dirt.
James Garfield (Juvenile Turf), the recent winner of the Mill Reef Stakes, has thrived since his arrival Sunday morning, and the George Scott-trained son of Exceed and Excel appears to be peaking at the right time.
The focus was now on the team from Ballydoyle and all 13 Breeders’ Cup hopes stretched their legs out on the Del Mar dirt
Defending champion Highland Reel (Turf) was first out and walked a circuit and a half of the track before going a gentle canter. All of the O’Brien team followed a similar pattern and all looked extremely well in their coats and seemed happy with their new surroundings apart from Happily (Juvenile Fillies Turf) who was reluctant at first to go out on to the track but once led out on to the main track by one of the outriders all seemed well.
Joining the O’Brien team on the dirt was the Andre-Fabre trained Talismanic (Turf) and Zelzal (Mile). Talismanic did nothing more than a gentle canter whilst Zelzal did his strongest piece of work since his arrival with a strong canter down the backstretch.
Marsha was the final European out on the track once again and with Luke Morris in the saddle the daughter of Acclamation, who will be going through the sale ring this month, did a gentle canter behind a pony before returning to the barn.
“I am very happy with her,” said William Butler, assistant trainer to Sir Mark Prescott. “But, I am just not sure how she will handle these bends.”
The Middle Park and Dewhurst Stakes double winner U S Navy Flag (Juvenile) looked extremely well in his coat as he walked and jogged around two laps of the track, and the son of War Front is undoubtedly in great shape ahead of what will be his first attempt on a dirt surface.
Chad Brown (Beach Patrol and Fanciful Angel) — James Covello, Sheep Pond Partners and Head of Plains Partners’ Beach Patrol and Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Parters and Madaket Stables’ Fanciful Angel went through their preparations for Saturday’s $4 million Longines Turf without a hitch Thursday morning. Each had routine gallops. Fanciful Angel went out earlier on his own, while Beach Patrol partnered up with promising 2yo Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner Good Magic. While the latter two did not gallop together, they did walk, jog and return as a team, with 4 yo Beach Patrol obviously functioning in a bit of a mentoring role.
Beach Patrol will put himself in line for an Eclipse Award with a victory on Saturday, having won the Arlington Million and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational in his last two starts. Those two Grade 1 victories came in his only tries with rider Joel Rosario, who evidently clicks well with the compact son of Lemon Drop Kid.
“He’s a tricky horse to ride,” Rosario said. “We have teamed up a couple times and he seems to get along with me. He’s been training good in the morning, too. He’s tough in the gate, so you have to make sure you get him out. That may be the main thing, because once he’s out he’s a good mover and puts you there. I think you have to be stronger in your ride. He’ll run all day and has no problem with the distance on Saturday.”
Hunt – Thinking he may have a “horse for the course,” Phil D’Amato oozes confidence in his candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“He loves this turf course,” he said enthusiastically of Hunt. “He’s won two stakes in a row on it. Flavien (jockey Flavien Prat) breezed him on the course last Sunday and said he thought he got hold of it really well and was full of energy. We know it’s a very deep field with some really nice horses in there, but one thing we have going for us is that we know this horse loves this turf course.
“Hunt drew pretty far out in the 11 post, but he’s got tactical speed so I’m not too worried about him. I just need to keep all my runners happy and healthy until they run and keep our fingers crossed.”
Oscar Performance – Amerman Racing’s Oscar Performance galloped 1 1/2m before the renovation break on the main track under exercise rider Arnoldo Orellana as he continued preparations for Saturday’s Turf.
Trained by Brian Lynch, Oscar Performance will attempt to become the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner to win the Turf, run at 1 1/2m.
Oscar Performance has been the Turf distance once, finishing third behind Beach Patrol in his most recent start in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
“I don’t think he ran his race that day,” Lynch said. “(Jockey) Jose (Ortiz) put him in a tough spot and had him on the worst part of the course.”
Oscar Performance will break from the far outside 14 post Saturday.
“From the 14, I think he will get a great opportunity to find out if what I think is right,” Lynch said. “And it should be a fast and firm course.”
Heart to Heart – Terry Hamilton’s Heart to Heart galloped 1 1/8m early Thursday morning on the main track under exercise rider Arnoldo Orellana for trainer Brian Lynch.
A confirmed frontrunner, Heart to Heart figures to have company right off the bat from post position two with the speedy Midnight Storm breaking to his immediate inside.
“If he breaks well, maybe the others will say ‘OK’ and just let him go,” Lynch said of Heart to Heart, who will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
“When we shorten him to a mile, there is always pace pressure. But, going longer he can shake loose.”
Midnight Storm – This 6yo son of Pioneerof the Nile is another runner that loves Del Mar’s Jimmy Durante Turf Course and trainer Phil D’Amato is counting on that to serving the turf expert well.
“He’s won five out of seven on it,” D’Amato said.
“What gives me more confidence is that it looks like he’s rounding back into his best form. We drew the rail so we’ll have to jump out of there and keep him on the engine, but he’s acting like his old self and I think he’ll give us everything he’s got.”
FILLY & MARE TURF
Avenge – Reprising last year’s effort in the 1 ¼m Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf might be all Avenge needs in this 1 1/8m renewal of what has become one of the world championships’ top attractions.
Avenge led nearly every step of the way in 2016 before being passed in the final strides to finish third, beaten a length. With the race an eighth of a mile shorter, could this 5yo daughter of War Front owned by Ramona Bass hold on to capture the top prize this year?
Trainer Richard Mandella owner Bass certainly hope so. “She will go to the lead,” Mandella said. “That’s her game and you can’t take that away from her. We hope she’s still there at the end.”
She’ll be leaving from post 12 under regular rider Flavien Prat.
Chad Brown (Lady Eli, Grand Jete, Dacita) — Chad Brown’s tough trio of turf filly and mares Lady Eli, Grand Jete and Dacita continue to train well and went through routine gallops Thursday morning for the reigning Eclipse Award champion trainer.
Lady Eli, winner of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf for Brown and owner Sheep Pond Partners, will be making her final start for her connections before selling at Keeneland’s November Sale. She will look for redemption Saturday in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf when she gets a second crack at 2016 winner Queen’s Trust, who nipped her at the wire.
“She’s meant everything to us,” Brown said. “She’s the horse of a lifetime. We’re very lucky to have had a lot of good times with her and she’s never let us down. Hopefully she can come through one last time here on Saturday.
“She ran a terrific race last year, Queen’s Trust just found more right at the end there and of course is a deserving winner,” Brown continued. “It’s frustrating, but I’m glad she’s going to get another crack at it this year.”
Juddmonte Farms’ Grand Jete is the least heralded of the trio, having a mere Grade 3 victory and a pair of Grade 1 placings. Still her connections hold her in high regard and her appearance this week has impressed onlookers. She must improve upon a third last time in the Flower Bowl Invitational as the even-money favorite.
“Hopefully she can find some cover just off the pace,” Brown said. “Obviously we didn’t want to be on the lead last time. That would be ideal for her. I think she’s a very talented filly who has developed over the course of the year. We feel like she’s earned it. We felt by mid-summer that she was a Grade 1 mare and gave her a chance to get here and she got here. She’ll also appreciate firm ground.”
Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds’ Dacita could play the role of spoiler on multiple levels for her stablemate Lady Eli. A victory Saturday would give her wins in both the Breeders’ Cup and Beverly D. and put her in contention for an Eclipse Award. The five-time Grade/Group I winner will have to do it with a new jockey, as Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard for her last seven tries, rides Lady Eli and Javier Castellano, aboard for the previous four, is aboard Grand Jete. Joel Rosario picks up the mount. Like Lady Eli, she makes her final start for her connections on Saturday. The Chilean-bred daughter of Scat Daddy is entered in Fasig-Tipton’s November Sale.
“She’s been a model of consistency for us,” Brown said. “She’s been very valuable to our operation. I’m very proud of her and she’ll be hard to replace. I think Joel will fit her well. I just have that feeling. Unfortunately I had to take Irad (Ortiz, Jr.) off because he rides Lady Eli, but it is what it is and I think Joel will do a great job.”
Rosario added: “She’s a good filly and I’m very happy to get the ride. Del Mar is a little different because the sharp turns. It depends on your horse and how it sets up if you have to move earlier or not, but she’s a talented filly. I feel good about her here.”
Peter Bradley, whose Bradley Thoroughbreds pinhooked Lady Eli, owns part of Dacita and is looking forward to the first clash between the two, as well as one final run with his star pupil.
“When you win the Beverly D and are beaten a head by a nice filly in a Grade I at Belmont who you’re giving weight to, you have to be happy coming into this race,” Bradley said. “I’m so proud of her. She puts her A-game out there every time. The firm ground plays to her strengths, but the short stretch is obviously problematic. Depending on how this sets up, if we get the right trip, we’re as dangerous as anyone in the race. I’m cautiously optimistic.
“You have to savor the moment of any horse, but with one who has won multiple Grade I’s for us and beaten Tepin, she has shown that she’s one of the best of her generation.”
Lady Eli is one of four Breeders’ Cup horses running this weekend who were pinhooked by Bradley Thoroughbreds. The others were Alluring Star (Juvenile Fillies), Significant Form (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Best Performance (Juvenile Fillies Turf).
Goodyearforroses – Abbondanza Racing and Medallion Racing’s Goodyearforroses took a turn on the Del Mar turf course Thursday morning for trainer Richard Baltas.
Runner-up in the John C. Mabee this summer in her lone Del Mar start, Goodyearforroses drew into the race Monday from off the preference list when Roly Poly opted to enter the Mile.
“I’d like to see her back off the pace,” Baltas said of Goodyearforroses, who will represent his seventh Breeders’ Cup starter. “The last time (an eighth-place finish in the Rodeo Drive Sept. 30 at Santa Anita), I put blinkers on her and she was a little too keen and too close to the pace. The blinkers are coming off for this.”
Ten-time Breeders’ Cup-winning rider Corey Nakatani will partner Goodyearforroses as he has since the 5yo mare arrived in the Baltas barn last fall. They will break from post position 13, a spot where two of Baltas’ previous Breeders’ Cup runners have started (Freedom Crest in the 2001 Classic and Flashy Ways in the 2012 Juvenile Fillies Turf).
War Flag – Joseph Allen’s War Flag galloped at Del Mar Thursday morning in preparation for a start in Saturday’s Filly & Mare Turf, thoroughly impressing trainer Shug McGaughey
“This is the first time, I’ve seen her on the (Del Mar) track. I was impressed with what I saw,” said McGaughey, who had never been to Del Mar before arriving for this year’s Breeders’ Cup. “After what I saw today, I’m looking forward to Saturday.”
The 4yo daughter of War Front launched her career in France last year, winning three of five starts and finishing second twice. The Kentucky-bred filly made her first two U.S. starts this year at Monmouth, where she closed from off the pace to win and optional claiming allowance June 18 before finishing a close second in the Matchmaker.
“She was kind of unlucky to lose the Matchmaker. She got carried out and the winner got through on the inside,” McGaughey said.
War Flag finished third in the Glens Falls at Saratoga before breaking through with a Grade 1 victory with a narrow decision over Dacita in the Flower Bowl at Belmont Park Oct. 8.
“She came back to Belmont and she really seemed to like that situation and trained good. We really went into the Flower Bowl with high expectations. We just hoped we were good enough,” the Hall of Fame trainer said.
McGaughey, who has saddled the winners of nine Breeders’ Cup races, will seek his first success in the Filly & Mare Turf Saturday. War Flag is no relation to My Flag and Storm Flag Flying, McGaughey’s Juvenile Fillies winners in 1995 and 2002, respectively.
Zipessa – Empyrean Stables’ Zipessa galloped 1 1/4m early Thursday morning under Jose Alvarado with trainer Mike Stidham on hand after arriving Wednesday afternoon from New Orleans where he has set up shop for the upcoming Fair Grounds meet.
Saturday will mark Zipessa’s second start in the Filly & Mare Turf and Stidham thinks the 2017 model is better than the one that finished fifth in last year’s race at Santa Anita going 1 1/4m.
“She is more mature and seasoned,” Stidham said of the 5yo daughter of City Zip. “She was always a little hyper and difficult to relax settle.
“Last year, by accident, she broke bad (in the Breeders’ Cup) and came running late. Joe (Bravo) gets along with her so well and he told me before the First Lady (Oct. 7 at Keeneland) that he was going to do the same thing and track the leaders and rate which they did.”
This year’s race is an eighth of a shorter than last year’s renewal.
“The mile and an eighth is much better for her,” Stidham said. “A mile to a mile and eighth are her best distances but she can get a mile and a quarter.”