Stud Verde's 3-year-old Agassi (BRZ) and Carlos Dos Santos's 3-year-old homebred Taksim (BRZ) lead a field of 14 runners entered for Sunday's 87th running of the 1 ½-mile Grande Premio Brasil (G1) at Hipodromo Gavea for an automatic starting position into the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) through the international Breeders' Cup Challenge.
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races whose winners receive free berths 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 November 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 Grande Premio Brasil to start in the 1 ½-mile Longines Breeders' Cup 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.
Trainer Luis Estevez has won the last two editions of this race with Voador Magee (BRZ) in 2017 and last year with Quarteto de Cordas (BRZ). A bay son of Wild Event out of the Yagli mare Grand I Ask (BRZ), Agassi has won his last two starts at Gavea, beginning with a one-mile stake over a heavy course on March 24, and then jumped to the 1 ½-mile distance of the Group 2, 1 ½-mile Grande Premio Doutor Frontin on May 11, having never run beyond a mile in his previous six starts. Dismissed at 18-1, Agassi found the longer distance to his liking and won the Dotour Frontin by three-quarters-of a length. Agassi will be ridden by Vagner Borges, who won this race in 2014 with Bal A Bali (BRZ), who went on to a solid career in the US, which included Grade 1 wins in the Kilroe Mile and the Shoemaker Mile in 2017.
Taksim, a 3-year-old bay son of Discreet Cat, comes into Sunday's race already with a Group 1 win in 2019. On March 17 at Gavea he captured the 1 ¼-mile Grande Premio Francisco Eduardo de Paula Machado by 2 3/4 lengths over 15 rivals. Trained by Cosme Neto and ridden by Muriel Machado, Taksim could not sustain that form in his latest start, the Grande Premio Cruzeiro du Sol Derby Brasileiro (G1) (Brazilian Derby) on April 20, in which he finished fourth beaten 4 ¾ lengths as the 8-5 second choice. In his first start this year, Taksim finished third in the Group 1 Grade Premio Estado do Rio de Janeiro at one mile, 3 ½ lengths behind the winner.
Esteves is also sending out a consistent runner in the 3-year-old Leviatan (BRZ), who has been favored in six of his seven starts for Stud Enternamente Rio. Ridden by Carlos Lavor, this bay son of Shanghai Bobby won the Group 3 Grande Premio Frederico Lundgren last December. After a sixth-place finish in the Grande Premio Rio de Janeiro at 4-5, he finished second in the Grande Premio Francisco Eduardo de Paula Machado on March 17, beaten 2 ¾ lengths, and was second again last out in the Grande Premio Doutor, finishing three-quarters of a length behind Taksim.
Haras Regina sends out a homebred entry of Olympic Hollywood (BRZ) and Olympic
Ice Cream (BRZ), both trained by R. Solanes. The 4-year-old Olympic Hollywood, by Soldier of Fortune (IRE), and ridden by Angelo Souza, has won four of 10 starts, including a dominant 6 ¾-length win in his last start, the 1 ½-mile Grande Premio Sao Paulo (G1) at Hipodromo Jardim on May 5. The 3-year-old Olympic Icecream, by Discreet Cat, is seeking his second career win. Ridden Waldomiro Blandi, Olympic Icecream finished third in the Grande Premio Francisco Eduardo de Paula Machado.
Haras Santa Maria de Araras's Gaivina (BRZ) is the lone filly in the race. A bay daughter of Gone Astray, trained by Carlos Oliveira and ridden by Vicente Gil, Gaivina has won four of eight starts, including the Group 1 Grade Premio Diana at 1 ¼ miles on March 17. In her most recent start on April 19, she crossed the wire first in the 1 ½-mile Zelia Gonzaga Peixoto de Castro (G1) but was disqualified and placed second.
The Grande Premio Brasil is the fourth of five Breeders' Cup Challenge races to be run in South America for the 2019 season. Il Mercato (ARG) qualified for the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf when he won the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (G1) last December at San Isidro. Entropia (ARG) won the Gran Premio Criadores at Palermo in Argentina to earn an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff, and Tamburo di Oro won the Gran Premio Club Hipico Falabella (G1) to gain a Breeders' Cup Mile berth.
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