SENTIENT JET JUVENILE
Bolt d'Oro – Owner/trainer Mick Ruis stood outside barn LL at Del Mar Thursday morning admiring the calm manner in which Bolt d'Oro carried himself while cooling out from his 1 ½m morning gallop.
“Look at him. He's the alpha male, isn't he? He's the star here. He loves posing,” Ruis said. “He still has a lot to prove, though, so I don't want him to get too big of a head.”
Undefeated in his three career starts, Bolt d'Oro is rated as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of 12 for Saturday's Juvenile. The son of Medaglia d'Oro will break from the No. 11 post position under jockey Corey Nakatani for the 1 1/16m race.
“When they jump out of there, Corey will be able to put him in a nice position because we only have one horse outside of us. He'll have the speed to take whatever position he wants. It's all up to Corey and Bolt. I see no problem. I'd rather have him in the '11' than in an inside hole.”
Ruis said he isn't nervous about Bolt d'Oro putting his undefeated record on the line in the Juvenile.
“At the end of the day it's whatever Bolt and Corey do. I guess I could get nervous for the sake of getting nervous, but I'm not really nervous. The most pressure I feel is for my partners when he retires, Mr. (B. Wayne) Hughes and his breeding farm [Spendthrift], because this is really important to him. If Bolt can win this he can be 2-year-old champion – that's real important for the breeding. Other than that, I'm not nervous about anything else.”
Ruis is confident in his colt's preparation for the Juvenile.
“I think we brought him into this race the right way,” he said. “We didn't really push him for his early races. He's fit now; he's ready to go.”
Firenze Fire – Trainer Jason Servis was breathing a sigh of relief Thursday morning after Firenze Fire's temperature was closer to normal and he was fine to train.
“The blood work came back clean. He looks good today and feels good,” said Servis, who expressed concern the day before that the colt was “a little quiet” after shipping on a long flight from the east coast on Tuesday. “Everything seems to be OK and we're on for Saturday's race.”
Champagne Stakes winner Firenze Fire, whose normal temperature is 100.5, experienced a spike to 101.6 after arriving at Del Mar. This morning the thermometer read 101.3 and he was sent out to gallop under exercise rider Garrett Servis, who is the trainer's son.
Free Drop Billy and Hollywood Star – The Albaugh Family Stables' colts both galloped 1 1/2m Thursday morning under exercise rider Adrian Vicencio. Trainer Dale Romans said both runners were doing well at Del Mar.
The Albaugh Family Stables, owned by Dennis Albaugh of Ankeny, Iowa, has two chances to earn its first Juvenile title. In 2015, Brody's Cause was third. Last year, Not This Time was second. Both were trained by Romans.
“Third, second and the pattern says we should win this year, right?” Romans said. “When you went to kindergarten you learned your patterns.
“This speaks highly for what Albaugh is doing at the sales, that he's bought five horses a year and made his third consecutive Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He's doing something right. He came up with Brody's Cause. Last year was a homebred. Now he's got two this year. Pretty impressive.”
14 HANDS WINERY JUVENILE FILLIES
Moonshine Memories – The undefeated daughter of Malibu Moon has savored the lead or just off in her three career victories as she climbed the distance ladder from 6f to 1 1/16m, the distance of Saturday's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
As usual, there likely will be plenty of speed in the race, but sustaining the speed is the key to success. Her clean resume speaks to Moonshine Memories' ability to accomplish that.
The Simon Callaghan trainee galloped 1 ½m Thursday as she moved closer to race day. Callaghan said, “What we need to do is just keep her happy and keep her energy up.”
Ransom the Moon – An outside post doesn't appear to be a problem for trainer Phil D'Amato as he moves his 5yo son of Malibu Moon toward Saturday's Sprint. He drew post nine, but his trainer thinks that will be fine.
“I don't think that will be a problem. He's training very well. His last race was on point, really was one of the best since I've had him,” D'Amato said.
“I don't think the outside post will matter much. He's a long-striding, long-bodied horse so I'm thinking that he'll be able to stalk and pounce.”
Takaful – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's second Sprint horse and first in just over a decade jogged twice around the Del Mar main track under exercise rider Yosuke Ito Thursday morning.
McLaughlin has found a successful approach with the Shadwell Stable homebred, who won the Vosburgh Invitational on Sept. 30 at Belmont Park.
“The closer we get to a race we usually jog,” McLaughlin said. “We'll jog again (Friday) because he's difficult to gallop. We galloped him Wednesday and that went well, but we just want to jog him now and keep him happy. We're ready to go.”
McLaughlin has saddled 38 horses in the Breeders' Cup and compiled a 3-3-2 record. Just one of those 38 was in the Sprint: Henny Hughes, who was 14th in 2006. Takaful showed some promise as a two-turn horse as a 2yo, but did not have success in Kentucky Derby preps this year and has flourished as a sprinter.
“Being by Bernardini we had to try the Derby route, we thought he wanted further,” McLaughlin said. “But after he couldn't do it once and we backed him up, he has been a serious sprinter, a Grade 1 winner.”
Whitmore – With trainer Ron Moquett on site for the first time this week, Whitmore was among the first to hit the track Thursday morning and jogged 2m under assistant trainer Laura Moquett, Ron's wife.
Whitmore had a sharp 4f workout in 48 Oct. 27 at Churchill Downs before shipping to California and by design is just jogging into the race.
“I want him to be a little closer (to the front) this time,” Ron Moquett said. “If I gallop him, he'll lose that edge. A lot of people don't realize I didn't work him before his last race (a win in the Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland). I was just using that race to get us here. This has been the plan all year. I'm glad he won, but he didn't need to win.”
FILLY & MARE SPRINT
Finley'sluckycharm – Carl Moore's ultra-consistent Finley'sluckycharm galloped 1 1/2m under Sara Calhoun before the Thursday morning renovation break.
The third choice on the morning line at 6-1 in the 14-horse field, Finley'sluckycharm will be partnered again by Brian Hernandez Jr., who has been aboard for her past eight starts.
“Brian has a lot of confidence in her and rides her with a lot of confidence,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “He is a top rider and has been in a lot of pressure races.”
Under Hernandez, Finley'sluckycharm has won six times with two seconds. The most recent victory came in the Thoroughbred Club of America on Oct. 7 at Keeneland.
“He has a good feel for her,” Calhoun said. “She can be difficult to work in the morning and he gets her to slow down and relax. That showed in the TCA when she got boxed in for a bit and he didn't panic. She relaxed and came from off the pace.”
Proper Discretion – Trainer Phil D'Amato is still trying to get acquainted with his Filly & Mare Sprint prospect, but she has done everything she can to help, he said.
“I just got her in about a month ago from the Midwest,” D'Amato said. “She's done nothing wrong so far. She trains like a good horse so we're taking a shot.
“She's coming off two wins in a row at Thistledown (in Ohio) and we're taking a big shot. She's trained well and we'll see what happens.”
LAS VEGAS DIRT MILE
Accelerate – The 4-year-old Accelerate, third in the Dirt Mile last year at boxcar odds, has only won once in 2017 but it turned out to be one of the more notable victories of the season as he cruised home in the San Diego Handicap by 8 1/2 widening lengths over a field that included Arrogate, the world's top-ranked horse. After that he tried to stretch out in the Pacific Classic but Friday returns to a 1m distance at which he's never finished off the board.
“He looks really good,” trainer John Sadler said. “We did our final works up at Santa Anita so we've just been cruising around here but he looks very good. He shines in good health and I'm kind of excited.”
The San Diego win came gate to wire as a field more concerned with the favorite allowed Accelerate to get away on an easy lead. That's unlikely to happen Friday against top-shelf dirt milers.
“I see Sharp Azteca as the speed so I imagine he'll be in front but we'll be forwardly placed, I hope,” Sadler said. “Except it looks like there are a lot of guys that will want the same spot, so we'll see.”
This morning Accelerate galloped 1 1/4m at 6 o'clock The Lookin at Lucky colt loves Del Mar, where he is three-for-four lifetime, with the only loss being a third in the Pacific Classic last time out at 1 1/4m.
Awesome Slew – Live Oak Plantation's Awesome Slew is one of three Mark Casse trainees to carry Mrs. Charlotte Weber's famed white with red polka dots silks in this year's Breeders' Cup. The connections concede that the 4 yo son of 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again will need a little luck riding on his withers.
“He drew nice. His race will be interesting,” said Casse. “The track seems fairly deep and it will be interesting to see how it plays. He's going to need some help on the front end. They're going to have to come back to him a little bit because he sits back and comes with a run, so he'll need some help with the pace. But he got a great post (five) so we're not going to lose a lot of ground.”
Casse has won three Breeders' Cups in the last two years with John Oxley's Classic Empire (2016 Juvenile), Robert Masterson's Tepin (2015 Mile) and Gary Barber's Catch a Glimpse (2015 Juvenile Fillies Turf). He said he would be thrilled to stand in the winner's circle with Mrs. Weber, who has been a major contributor to racing and breeding for more than 50 years.
“She has put so much into the game. I feel very proud to have three horses running for Mrs. Weber,” Casse said, who also saddles World Approval as one of the favorites in the Mile and Holding Gold in the Turf Sprint for her.
Battle of Midway – When the current crop of 3-year-olds set out on the Triple Crown trail at the year's start, the path was mighty crowded. Going into the Breeders' Cup, there are only three who have survived to fight another day and one is Battle of Midway.
“I think it's just the individual horse. A lot of horses who run in the (Kentucky) Derby don't do much afterward,” said Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who with owners Don Alberto Stable and WinStar Farm decided after the Kentucky Derby he would retreat from the trail and head home to California. “Battle of Midway ran a good third in the Derby and he came back and since then he's run in and out. But here at Del Mar he ran in, big time. He won (the Shared Belief Aug. 26) by six lengths and that's why we have him in the Dirt Mile. He's a horse for the course.”
Battle of Midway, who is named for the eminent battle in U.S. Naval history that was crucial in turning the tide in WWII, is undefeated at Del Mar and unblemished at the 1m distance. Since the Shared Belief win, his connections have pointed him to Friday's race.
“We drew an outside post (nine) with all of the speed inside of us, so we think we'll get a good pace to run at it,” said Hollendorfer.
Fellow Dirt Mile contender Practical Joke and Classic hopeful Gunnevera are the two other Kentucky Derby starters to make it to the Breeders' Cup. Travers Stakes and Pennsylvania Derby winner West Coast, a Classic contender, skipped the Triple Crown campaign.
Giant Expectations – Exline-Border Racing and Gatto Racing's Giant Expectations galloped early Thursday morning on the main track with exercise rider Eddie Inda aboard for trainer Peter Eurton.
The 4yo New York-bred son of Frost Giant will break from post position two Friday in the Dirt Mile under Gary Stevens, who has won 11 Breeders' Cup races.
“This is a good group of milers and there are two very quick horses in there in Sharp Azteca and Mor Spirit,” Eurton said. “I'd like to see him stalk the pace and not throw Gary out of the back of the gate (as he did prior to the Santa Anita Sprint Championship in his previous start).”
Iron Fist — One who has trained consistently well this week and impressed onlookers, Whispering Oaks Farm's Iron Fist appears on top of his game heading into his toughest career test in the $1 million Las Vegas Dirt Mile on Friday. The son of Tapit is coming into the race at the end of a productive season in which he has won half his eight starts, including three of his last four, and $507,400. His best effort was a stalk-and-pounce two-length victory in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap three starts back in July for trainer Steve Asmussen.
“He looked great over the racetrack,” Asmussen said. “There's nobody here that feels better than he does, but what a tall order we have for him. He's got a tremendous talent level and always had. Ian Brennan had him down at Stonestreet and when they sent him in he told me 'I know he keeps a little in reserve,' so what a time to hopefully let it all out (this Friday).”
Mor Spirit, Cupid – Trainer Bob Baffert's two runners are arriving at the race via different routes. Cupid finished fourth in the Awesome Again on Sept. 30 and was entered in the Dirt Mile instead of the Classic, where Baffert has four runners. Mor Spirit will be making his first start since his smashing six-length victory in the Met Mile on June 10.
“Cupid is sort of a tweener – a mile to a mile and an eighth – and I'm just hoping that if they do go extremely fast early that maybe he can come and get them,” Baffert said. “Mor Spirit, if he shows up then he's a monster. He was a little bit erratic after that race and it's taken him a long time to get back into the swing of things. But his last works have been pretty good. He didn't want to train there for a little bit, but now he's doing well.”
Both of the 4yo colts galloped 1 1/2m Thursday morning.
Baffert is winless in six starts in the Dirt Mile.
Practical Joke – Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence's Practical Joke will try add a fourth Grade I win to his resume when the son of Into Mischief lines up in the $1 million Dirt Mile for trainer Chad Brown. Consistent and impressive throughout his career around one turn, including all four of his graded stakes wins, the bay 3yo must prove he can be as effective around two turns, while also overcoming outside post 10.
“The proof is right there that he is undefeated going one turn, but he has never tried a two-turn mile,” Brown said. “He also ran really well going two turns and a mile and an eighth in both the Haskell and Blue Grass, finishing second to Irap, so I think I could see a scenario where a two-turn mile will suit him. He just has to have a good trip.”
Despite being one of the top ownerships in America, Klaravich Stables, as a solo entity or in partnership with Lawrence, has yet to garner a Breeders' Cup victory from 15 tries. It has had close calls with Top Decile (second in 2014 Juvenile Fillies), Balance the Books (third in 2012 Juvenile Turf) and Practical Joke's third last year in the Juvenile. This year it has three logical players in Practical Joke, Voting Control (Juvenile Turf) and Separationofpowers (Juvenile Fillies).
“I would love to give (Klaravich principal Seth Klarman) a Breeders' Cup win,” Brown continued. “He is an outstanding guy in general and for racing. I can't think of a more deserving owner to win a Breeders' Cup than him. Here's a guy whose stable is very much in the conversation for an Eclipse Award as an owner and this would be another deserving accomplishment for someone who has put so much into the game and been so patient. He really defines the way an owner is supposed to take the ups and downs in this game. Here's a guy that has it down. Often times, if I have to give him disappointing news about a horse having a setback, he's the one calling me later on to see how I'm doing. That's rare. That's just the kind of guy he is.”
Sharp Azteca – The speed of the speed in the Dirt Mile, Sharp Azteca is a safe bet to be in front for some portion of the race. What remains to be seen is how much pressure he gets and whether he can carry that speed all the way to the wire.
“I've got him where I want him,” trainer Jorge Navarro said. “He's ready and we have no excuses this time.”
The 4yo won July's Monmouth Cup at 1 1/16m by more than seven lengths and is now under consideration for the world's richest race, the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, at 1 1/8m in January at Gulfstream Park.
“We're going to try to go longer with him,” Navarro said. “After that race at Monmouth – he broke the track record – if everything goes good we might try the Pegasus. Everything has to go right Friday. But the way he's training, the way he's acting, the way he's eating, he knows what's going to happen.
“After I watched that race at Monmouth I thought, why not?” Navarro said. “Gulfstream is his home base and we have time. So that's our plan but if it doesn't happen there are a lot of races out there for him and we can go back to Dubai and try to win that (the $1 million Godolphin Mile, where he was third in March) again.”
Christophe Clement (Disco Partner and Pure Sensation) – Stablemates and record setters Disco Partner and Pure Sensation, who bear the colors of owner/breeder Patricia Generazio, are set to renew their rivalry Saturday.
With New York-bred Disco Partner, a closer, breaking from the rail and pacesetting Florida-bred Pure Sensation getting the far outside spot in the field of 12, they'll also be battling the draw.
“It should have been the other way around, but there is not much we can do about it now,” said Christophe Lorieul, trainer Christophe Clement's assistant of more than 20 years. “They both have to work it out. They're both fast horses, and agile horses, so we'll see it how it plays, but it's going to be a question of the trip. We know they're both good enough, but the trip is going to be essential.”
On the Belmont Stakes day undercard in June 2016 Purse Sensation set a course record (1:06.76) for 6f on Belmont's turf course when he finished a neck in front of Disco Partner in the Jaipur. Not to be outdone by his stablemate this year, Disco Partner set a world record of 1:05.67 for 6f in the Jaipur while torching the course record of Pure Sensation, who was fourth.
“It would be great if they could run one-two in this race. Just to try to win with either one of them would be nice,” Lorieul said. “I hope we have a good chance this year. They are both complete sprinters. They have a different style of running but they are both very talented.”
Patricia and Frank Generazio, who now breed all but a few of their horses in New York and Florida, were en route to San Diego from the east coast on Thursday, as was Clement.
Clement, who also runs Best Performance in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, seeks his first Breeders' Cup trophy as his record is 0-5-4 with 32 previous starters. All three horses had an easy 1m gallop Thursday morning.
Hogy – A supplemental entry into the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, 17-time winner Hogy has looked well in his morning gallops for trainer Mike Maker. The multiple graded stakes-winning son of Offlee Wild is having his best season, having defeated divisional leader Green Mask in Fair Grounds stakes company this year in track record time and winning the Grade 3 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint two races back.
Last out, he was a gaining second in the Grade 2 Woodford at Keeneland after a slow start. The Maker trainee adds blinkers and switches from Florent Geroux to Jose Ortiz for Saturday's 5f dash.
“I'm not so sure five-eighths is his best distance, but he can't leave himself too much to do,” Maker said. “He deserves a chance in here. He's an honest horse who is fast enough to compete. He's training really well for this race.”
Holding Gold – Trainer Mark Casse expressed some concern that his charge might fare better going a tad bit longer than 5f to the wire.
“This distance may be a touch short for our horse. We ran him five-eighths at Parx last time and he had a really bad trip and just got beat a length-and-a-half. But, our horse is good. We gave him a little break because we've felt that his best races have come when he's had a little time, so that's why we gave him a gap going into this race,” said Casse.
Casse predicted a razor-thin finish.
“That's going to be an interesting race going five-eighths of a mile on the turf. He's going to need a lot of luck in that it's going to be crowded. They're going to running fast, and if you look at the field, there are probably three lengths that separate the entire field on any given day so it's going to be who gets lucky,” Casse said. “It's going to be an extremely close race. I think you could run this race five times and get five different winners.”
Lady Aurelia – For the second day in a row, Stonestreet Stables and Peter Leidel's Lady Aurelia impressed with a gallop over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course. The daughter of Scat Daddy, a late sire with whom trainer Wesley Ward has had unprecedented success, is the favorite for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint on the strength of Group 1 success two back at Royal Ascot's King's Stand Stakes.
“I taught her to be fast at first and that's why when the gates would open, she'd be gone before in her races, but I don't see her on the lead Saturday,” Ward said. “We took the blinkers off this year and got her to settle and come with a run and she's done that well.
“(Progeny of Scat Daddy) all are very smart and often very fast,” Ward continued. “Those are two qualities you want in a racehorse and they come in all shapes and sizes. They seem to all like the grass and some really like the dirt.”
Lady Aurelia often draws comparisons to Group I-winning Royal Ascot victor No Nay Never, also a son of Scat Daddy, whom Ward trained to a heartbreaking photo-finish loss in the 2014 Turf Sprint as the favorite.
“No Nay Never really never got a chance to show what he could really do,” Ward said. “I would have liked to kept him in training at four to do that, but they wanted to retire him to stud because he was unfortunately too valuable. He would have been a tremendous 4yo sprinter on either turf or dirt and I really think he could have won the Breeders' Cup Sprint on the dirt.”
A winner two years in a row at the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting, which is already a feat never accomplished otherwise by an American-trained horse, Lady Aurelia is heading back for more.
“We're going to have her stay in training next year as long as she's sound,” Ward said.
When asked if Royal Ascot would be the goal, he emphatically replied “Oh yeah.”
Mongolian Saturday – One of many previous Breeders' Cup winners to run on Saturday, Mongolian Stable's 7yo war horse Mongolian Saturday enters the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint on the strength of consecutive graded stakes placings in salty turf sprints. The Enebish Ganbat-trained 2015 winner of the Turf Sprint reunites with jockey Florent Geroux, who was aboard in his greatest victory.
“I'm excited to ride him again,” Geroux said. “I think he ran well at Keeneland last time and he looks like he can compete. His races have been good and he's getting better. Hopefully we can get lucky with him.”
Ganbat added: “He's training very good. I am happy with him and I think he is a better horse than last time (when third in the Grade 2 Woodford at Keeneland Oct. 7).”
Catholic Boy – Trainer Jonathan Thomas is preparing to saddle his first Breeders' Cup starter Friday, when undefeated Catholic Boy is scheduled to start in the Juvenile Turf.
The former assistant to Todd Pletcher is currently based at Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Fla., where his primary focus is identifying, acquiring and breaking prospects for owners with affiliations with Pletcher and Chad Brown, among others.
”The backbone of what we do is the acquisition stuff – going to the sales, trying to purchase athletes, like when we purchased this colt (Catholic Boy) as a short yearling, late in his weanling year, Then, we develop them and see what we have,” Thomas said. “We keep some of them, some of them go to Chad, some of them go to Todd. It just depends on the horse and what locale they belong in. We're first and foremost what I call recruiters.”
When other 2yos were shipped north in the spring, Robert LaPenta's Catholic Boy remained with Thomas at Bridlewood, debuting at Gulfstream Park July 20 with an off-the-pace two-length victory in a 1 1/16m maiden turf event.
”He's really settled in well. He came in a little early, so we could have a good week on the track and have a breeze here. He's done everything we needed him to do.
“He's a horse that was showing us that he would appreciate going some ground, a little more distance, and that race came up. I wasn't sure he was polished enough,” Thomas said. “We certainly didn't think he'd win first time out. We thought he'd get the distance, but having him ready to win first time out going around two turns, we weren't thinking that. We were looking for experience, but he had enough ability to kind of negotiate it.”
The son of More Than Ready followed up his maiden win with a late-closing length victory in the With Anticipation at Saratoga Aug. 30.
“At that time of year when you break your maiden, your only option is to run in a stake,” Thomas said. “We had a lot of conversations about different possibilities, but ultimately what ended up having us go to New York was his second-to-last piece of work back at home. You never go up to Saratoga thinking you're going to win. You go up thinking you're going to be competitive. I think between the horse and how he matured between his two starts and getting a beautiful ride from (Manny) Franco – getting a ground-saving trip – all those things played a factor. He was a lot more polished his second time out and I'd like to think he'll be further polished going into his next start. Time will tell.”
Catholic Boy breezed a half-mile in 47 4/5 last Sunday at Del Mar.
Hemp Hemp Hurray – Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Hemp Hemp Hurray will look to add to an already impressive Breeders' Cup record for his owners when the Wesley Ward trainee goes to post in the Juvenile Turf. The son of Mile winner Artie Schiller has a pair of victories from three starts, including a win in the turf sprint Tyro Stakes at Monmouth Park in early August. Last out, he was a begrudging neck second in the Grade II Summer Stakes at Woodbine behind fellow Juvenile Turf entrant Untamed Domain.
“He's doing very well,” Ward said. “I was really impressed with his last breeze (with Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf runner Ultima D). He really surprised me. When the rider moved his pinky, he just moved right to her. He's doing great.”
Snapper Sinclair – A perfect two for two on the grass and another solid progeny of recently deceased stallion City Zip, Bloom Racing Stable's Snapper Sinclair enters the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on the strength of a win in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile over its namesake course. Three weeks prior, the Steve Asmussen trainee was an impressive four-length winner of a Saratoga turf sprint maiden. His only other try was a sixth on the Belmont dirt on July debut.
Snapper Sinclair reunites with Ricardo Santana and breaks from post 11 of 14 in the 1m event.
“We get our chance to prove we are worthy,” Asmussen said. “In the juvenile turf races it's always quite the adventure of who handles the circumstances. Your post draw during the race looks a lot different than it does during the running. You never know exactly where you wish you weren't. I can promise you more than half of them do not get the right trip in those races. It's a lot of talent funneled through one spot, it seems. He's is a very fast horse and is physically capable.
“We've all done our handicapping for the Juvenile Turf races here at the Breeders' Cup before,” Asmussen laughed. “We're not saying you weren't right, you probably just didn't get the trip.”
Voting Control – Klaravich Stables' Chad Brown-trained Voting Control looks to rebound from a runner-up effort last out in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont on Sept. 30 as the 6-5 favorite. A sharp winner on debut 20 days prior, the son of Kitten's Joy was squeezed badly at the start of the Pilgrim and forced to rally wide before closing 4 1/2 lengths in the stretch, ultimately coming up a half-length short of winner Seabhac.
“Voting Control got wiped out at the start there and it really compromised him severely,” Brown said. “He's training well right now. I ran him back in three weeks in the Pilgrim and now he's had five weeks and he's making the most of it. He's gaining weight, he's training stronger and he looks good.”
If victorious, Voting Control would be the second consecutive son of America's top grass sire, Kitten's Joy to take the Juvenile Turf, following 2016 winner Oscar Performance.
JUVENILES FILLIES TURF
Best Performance – In an unusual twist, 2yo filly Best Performance will represent West Point Thoroughbreds this weekend.
“We've never run a two-year-old at the Breeders' Cup,” said West Point's Terry Finley, who owns her with Uniform Tango racing. “I certainly wouldn't have thought that the first one we were going to run is a Christophe Clement horse that's already run five times.
Although the partnership is eagerly anticipating the race, he said that he is reflective that Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, whom he owns in partnership, didn't make it to Del Mar. But, that isn't spoiling his experience.
“After winning the Kentucky Derby this year, it seems a little tame to be here with a 2-year-old filly. But, I've gotten pretty close with (multiple Super Bowl-winning head coach) Bill Parcells,” he said. “A day after winning the Kentucky Derby, I asked if he had any advice for being at the mountain top. He walked me through all the different things he accumulated from winning those Super Bowls. He told me you've got to be careful, because if you're not, the wins won't be as special. That's what I've worked on.
“Sure I'm a little wistful Always Dreaming can't be running here. But, if he was, he'd probably be going off after to stand in Kentucky because he would have had a better summer. But, it's good to think about having a really nice older horse in 2018.”
First things first. It's time for Best Performance, who has been second in her last four efforts to become the bride instead of the bridesmaid.
“She's a bit of a longshot, but I think she deserves to be here,” said Christophe Lorieul, the assistant to Clement. “She's done everything right so far. She could do it. She's a nice little filly.”
West Point also owns Summer Stakes winner Untamed Domain, trained by Graham Motion, in the Juvenile Turf. “They're both similar. They both had good summers and keep getting better and better. They both drew good posts and hopefully, they're good enough,” said Finley.
Chad Brown (Rushing Fall and Significant Form) – Chad Brown once again holds a hot hand in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, a race he has won three times: Maram in 2008's inaugural running, Lady Eli in 2014 and New Money Honey last year. This year he enters with two last-out graded winners in e Five Racing Thoroughbreds' Grade III Jessamine winner Rushing Fall and Seymour Grade 3 Miss Grillo winner Significant Form.
“I think both horses are very talented and training great,” Brown said. “I think Rushing Fall's race was more eye-catching by the number of lengths she won by, but she's also run more recently, so I would keep that in the front part of your mind. Significant Form has had more time and has crossed the wire in both her runs, the first race being incredible. They are both top prospects and I can't separate them. We've had some good luck in this division in the past and I've had some good horses to compare them to and these two are very good fillies.”
Rushing Fall was established as the 7-2 morning-line favorite after a 3 1/4-length win in her aforementioned Keeneland stakes win. She has impressed onlookers during morning gallops this week.
“She seems to have bounced out of her race well,” Brown said. “The Jessamine has proven to be a really good prep race, but she's also running for the third time in a short period of time on Friday. My assistant Jose Hernandez was there with her looking after her at Keeneland and did a terrific job. All reports are she was doing great before coming here and she is training very well here.”
Bob Edwards, principal of e Five, also owned New Money Honey. He purchased Rushing Fall, a daughter of More than Ready, for $320,000 at Fasig-Tipton's Saratoga sale in August 2016.
“I still get goosebumps watching the Jessamine,” Edwards said. “Javier (Castellano, jockey) came out and took off like a turf rocket on her. She has a second gear and he really didn't have to ask her — she just did it so fast. Her first race things didn't go right and she smoked the field there, too. As she matures, the sky is the limit.”
Capla Temptress – Team Valor's Bil Mott-trained Capla Temptress has been training well this week as she prepares for her first start for her trainer. Previously conditioned by Marco Botti, the daughter of Lope de Vega was an impressive winner in her North American debut, a 3/4-length win in the Grade 1 Natalma at Woodbine on Sept 17. She enters as one of only two Grade/Group I winners in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
“She's good,” Mott said. “She has done what we've asked her and has looked well. I have not had her long, but I like what I see. She has carried her weight well.”
Flameaway – In the biggest race of his young life, John Oxley's Flameaway is competing on the green for the first time, but it's through no fault of his own. Blame Mother Nature.
“I'll believe it when I see it,” trainer Mark Casse said. “We've tried three times, and I keep thinking we're going to have a monsoon here and they'll take the race off the grass. Every time he's in on the grass we get a monsoon.”
After winning his debut on Woodbine's artificial surface, the Skidmore came off the Saratoga lawn but he was victorious nonetheless. Next he ran on the main track at Churchill Downs, and then over a sloppy Keeneland track when the turf course was deemed unsafe. After some back-and-forth over whether the Bourbon would still be a “Win and You're In” qualifier for the Juvenile Turf, as the winner of the race he has earned his spot in the gate.
Casse said the pedigree of the son of Scat Daddy out of a Fusaichi Pegasus mare gives him no second thoughts about running him in this race instead of the Juvenile on the main track.
Flameaway galloped 1 1/2m Thursday and schooled in the paddock Wednesday. He will gallop 1m on Friday.
Moon Dash – Speedway Stable's Moon Dash galloped 1 1/4m on the main track early Thursday morning, the day before she goes postward in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
She will break from post position 14 under Mike Smith, who has won 25 Breeders' Cup races but none in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
“In a 14-horse field going a mile, somebody is going to get squeezed down on the inside,” trainer Mike Stidham said. “I've got a good pilot going for me Friday.”
Orbolution – Orbulation's future was decided from the time she first stepped onto a turf course July 23 at Saratoga and went on to graduate from the maiden ranks in her third career start with a 2 ½-length victory.
The 2yo daughter of Orb, who had finished third in her first two career starts on dirt, confirmed her affinity for turf a month later while winning the P.G. Johnson Stakes by 4 ¾ lengths at Saratoga.
Orbulation did encounter defeat for the first time on turf when she finished third in the Miss Grillo at Belmont Park Oct. 1, but trainer Todd Pletcher is confident StarLadies Racing's filly will be given the opportunity to return to her winning ways over the Del Mar turf course.
”Orbolution has run well all three starts on the turf,” Pletcher said. “She was very impressive in her two wins at Saratoga. John Velazquez felt that in her last race the turf was a little too loose on top and she struggled a bit to get a hold of it. I think she'll appreciate getting back on firmer turf.”
Ultima D — For the People, Andrew Farm, et al.'s Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies winner Ultima D went through her morning routine well Thursday for trainer Wesley Ward. The daughter of Scat Daddy broke her maiden in that event after finishing second twice to the boys in maiden sprints, including a neck second to stakes-performing El Dulce in a Saratoga turf sprint. In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, she steps up from the 7f of Kentucky Downs to a two-turn mile.
“She's doing very well and has the talent to do well in this race,” Ward said. “Her Kentucky Downs race was very good and her last work was nice.”
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