The international Breeders' Cup Challenge Series heads to The Curragh on Sunday for two “Win and You're In” races in the $461,500 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (G2), led by female stars Soffia (GB) and Mabs Cross (GB), for a free berth into the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1), and the $461,500 Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1), headlined by Albany Stakes (G3) winner Daahyeh (GB), for an automatic starting position into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on Nov. 1-2.
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees for the winner of the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five to start in the Turf Sprint, and for the winner of the Moyglare Stud Stakes to start in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Breeders' Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. If not Breeders' Cup eligible, the Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders' Cup program by the pre-entry deadline of October 21 to receive the rewards.
The Derrinstown Stud Flying Five is a five-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up. Lady O'Reilly's 4-year-old Soffia (GB), a bay daughter of Kyllachy (GB), has won 7 of 14 starts, including her last three races. Trained by Edward Lynam and ridden by Declan McDonough, Soffia began her recent streak in the five-furlong Sole Power Sprint Stakes at Naas on May 19, and then stepped into Group stakes company at The Curragh, winning the six-furlong Ballyogan Stakes (G3) on June 7. Soffia was even more impressive in her next start, dominating a field of males in the Group 2 Friarstown Stud Sapphire Stakes, sailing home to a 3 ½-length victory, with the 2-1 favorite Soldier's Call (GB) 4 ¾ lengths back in fourth.
David Armstrong's 5-year-old Mabs Cross hit her career zenith last October when she captured the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye Longines at ParisLongchamp, holding off Gold Vibe (IRE) to win by a head. This year, the bay daughter of Dutch Art (GB) out of the Pivotal (GB) mare Miss Meggy (GB), trained by Michael Dods, has one win in four starts. She opened the season with a victory at Newmarket on May 4 in the Group 3 Zoustar Palace House Stakes. In her next start, the five- furlong Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes (G2) at Haydock, she finished third behind Battaash (IRE) and Alpha Delphini (GB). After that, she was nosed out for third by Soldier's Call in the Group 1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, and was fourth again in her last start, the “Win and You're In” five-furlong Coolmore Nunthorpe (G1) at York on Aug. 23. Mabs Cross will be ridden by Gerald Mosse.
Clipper Logistics' Soldier's Call has been racing among the top turf sprinters in Europe this year, but is still seeking his first win after four starts. Trained by Archie Watson and ridden by Daniel Tudhope, the Showcasing (GB) colt was no match for Battaash last time out in the Coolmore Nunthorpe, finishing second 3 ½ lengths behind the winner. Prior to that, in a fourth-place finish in the Sapphire Stakes, he lost a shoe in the stretch. Soldier's Call had a good effort in the King's Stand, while finishing third, but could not close ground on Blue Point (IRE) and Battaash.
The 5-year-old mare Houtzon (AUS) has made two starts in Britain since coming over from Australia this year for Aquis Farm Pty. Ltd. She began inauspiciously at Royal Ascot, stumbling at the start of the King's Stand and finishing eighth. Trained by Marty Meade, Houtzon, a bay daughter of I Am Invincible (AUS), showed great improvement next time out at Goodwood in the five-furlong King George Qatar Stakes (G2), finishing second to Battaash by three-quarters of a length. Houtzon will be ridden by Colin Keane.
Nasser Al Khalifa's Daahyeh is listed as a slight favorite over the Niarchos Family's Albigna (GB) in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, which drew nine 2-year-old fillies, and will award the first automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Daahyey, a chestnut daughter of Bated Breath (GB), made a big splash at Royal Ascot, winning the six furlong Albany Stakes by 1 ½ lengths in a 25-horse field for trainer Roger Varian.
Daahyey broke her maiden prior to that at Newmaket in the six-furlong Betway EBF Novice Stakes over Raffle Prize (IRE) on May 18. In her most recent start, Daahyeh was sent away as the 5-4 favorite in the six-furlong Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket on July 12, but could not catch Raffle Prize and wound up second beaten 1 ½ lengths.
Albigna has won both of her starts for trainer Jessica Harrington, first breaking her maiden by a head over Tango (IRE) in an Irish Stallion Farms EBF six-furlong race at The Curragh on May 24 at 10-1. A chestnut daughter of Zoffany (IRE) out of the Selkirk mare Freedonia (GB), Albigna was back at The Curragh on June 28 for the Group 2 Airlie Stud Stakes at six furlongs. Coming from eighth place in a nine-horse field, Albigna made a bold rush inside the final furlong to win by a half-length over Precious Moments (IRE).
Tango and Precious Moments join Love (IRE) and So Wonderful as part of the four-horse Aidan O'Brien contingent for the Moyglare with all four fillies bearing the colors Michael Tabor. Love, a winner twice in five starts, is listed at 11-2 topping the Coolmore quartet. Ridden by Ryan Moore, Love, a chestnut daughter of Galileo (IRE) out of the Pivotal (GB) mare Pikaboo (GB), led throughout to win the seven-furlong Jockey Club of Turkey Flash Stakes (G3) on July 25 at Leopardstown by 3 ¼ lengths at 8-1. She was favored next time out in the seven-furlong Debutante Stakes (G2) at the Curragh on Aug. 23, but after disputing the lead, could not sustain a drive in the final two furlongs and wound up fourth, beaten 2 ¾ lengths.
Kentucky-bred So Wonderful, ridden by Seamie Heffernan, will be making her eighth start in seeking her first win on Sunday. A bay daughter of War Front out of the Kingmambo mare Wonder of Wonders, So Wonderful ran second in her last race, the one-mile Flame of Tiara Irish EBF Stallion Stakes, finishing 1 ½ lengths behind Cayenne Pepper (IRE).
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