The 2019 international Breeders' Cup Challenge series heads to Kenilworth Racecourse in South Africa on Saturday with two outstanding Group 1 turf events in the one mile R1.5 million L'Ormarins Queen's Plate, for an automatic berth into the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), and the 1 1/8 mile R1 million Cartier Paddock Stakes for a free starting position into the $2 million Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
Now in its 13th season, the Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of 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, Nov. 1-2.
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders' Cup will pay the pre-entry and entry fees for the winners of Saturday's races to start in World Championships, and will also provide a US$40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the Breeders' Cup if those runners are nominated to the Breeders' Cup program by the Championships' pre-entry deadline of Oct. 21.
William Henderson, F.H. McGrath and A.J. Van Hu's 7-year-old gelding Legal Eagle (SAF), the defending three-time champion, headlines the 10-horse field in the L'Ormarins Queen's Plate for 3-year-olds and up. Trained by Sean Tarry and ridden by Anton Marcus, Legal Eagle comes into Saturday's race off two consecutive stakes victories. The bay son of Greys Inn captured the seven-furlong Green Point Stakes (G2) at Kenilworth on Dec. 8 by a short head in a blanket finish over Undercover Agent (SAF), Do It Again (SAF) and Rainbow Bridge (SAF). The first four finishers from the Green Point are all entered again for the Queen's Plate. Prior to the Green Point, Legal Eagle won the 5-furlong Pinnacle Stakes at Turffontein on Nov. 15.
Last year, in one of his most courageous performances, Legal Eagle, 15 of 26 lifetime, wore down front-runner Captain America (SAF) in the final yards to capture his third straight Queen's Plate. Video
The 4-year-old gelding Do It Again, trained by Justin Snaith and ridden by Richard Fourie from post 6 to the inside of Legal Eagle, made a big Group 1 score in the 1 ¼-mile Durban July Stakes at Greyville on July 7, winning by 1 ¼ lengths. The Bay son of Twice Over (SAF) did not start again until his third-place finish in the Green Point.
Greg Bortz and A.J. Van Huyssteen's 4-year-old colt Undercover Agent (Corne Orfer, post 5), won four races in six starts last year for trainer Brett Crawford. Among those victories was the Group 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge at 7 furlongs on June 9 at Greyville. His last victory at Kenilworth came in the 5-furlong Betting World Pinnacle Stakes on Oct. 27.
The 4-year-old gelding Rainbow Bridge, trained by Eric Sands, was the 5-4 favorite in the Green Point, and came flying on the outside at the wire but lost a head-bob finish to Legal Eagle, suffering defeat for the first time after four consecutive wins in 2018. Breaking from post 4 under Bernard Fayd'Herbe, Rainbow Bridge, a bay son of Kentucky-bred Ideal World, won three Group 3 events last year, and the listed Cape Mile at Kenilworth on Nov. 11.
Cascapedia Leads Cartier Paddock Stakes
Twelve fillies and mares have been entered in the Paddock Stakes, led by the Mike de Kock-trained Cascapedia (IRE). A 4-year-old bay daughter of two-time Breeders' Cup Turf winner High Chaparral (IRE), Cascapedia finished third as the 7-2 favorite in the Group 1, 1 1/8-mile
G-Bets Gauteng Summer Cup at Turffontein in an 18-horse field, beaten less than a length for it all. She won two races in five starts last year, including the Joburg Spring F&M Challenge at 7 furlongs. Cascapedia will be ridden by Gavin Lerena from post 8.
Breaking just to the outside of Cascapedia will be the Adam Marcus-trained Brave Move (SAF), who reeled off six consecutive wins from December of 2017 to July of last year, highlighted by a 1 ¾-length score in the one-mile Final Fling Stakes (G3) at Kenilworth on July 28. However, the 5-year-old daughter of Horse Chestnut (SAF), owned by the Brave Bid Syndicate, lost her last two races, including a seventh-place finish last out in the one-mile WSB Victress Stakes on Dec. 12 at Kenilworth as the 11-8 favorite. She will be ridden Saturday by Craig Zackey from post 9.
Mrs. Vanessa Harrison's Sylvan on Fire (SAF), a 5-year-old chestnut mare by Silvano (GER), won the Yellow Handicap (G3) at Turffontein on Nov. 3 by a neck for trainer Candice Dawson. Sylvan on Fire will try to improve upon her four-length defeat last out as the 15-2 second choice in the about one mile Ipi Tombe Challenge (G2) at Turffontein on Dec. 1. She will be ridden by Ray Danielson on Saturday, leaving from post 10.
Oh Susanna (AUS) won last year's Paddock Stakes by 1 ½ lengths over Lady in Black (SAF). Owned by Drackenstein Stud and trained by Justin Snaith, Oh Susanna won two more Group 1 races after that, taking the Sun Met Celebrated with GH Mumm Stakes against males (with Legal Eagle fourth) on Jan. 27, and a month later beating fillies and mares in the Woolavington 2000 at Greyville. A bay daughter of Street Cry (IRE) out of the Touch Gold mare Sharp Susan, Oh Susanna did not race again until Nov. 15 when she finished second by three-quarters-of a length to Lady in Black in the Supabets Pinnacle Stakes at about one mile at Kenilworth. Richard Fouire will ride Oh Susanna from post 7.
Lady in Black, a bay filly by Dynasty (SAF), trained by Dennis Drier and ridden by Sean Veale from post 3, registered her second win of 2018 when taking the Pinnacle at 5-1 odds. She also won the six-furlong Umzimkhulu Stakes (G3) at Greyville last April.
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