We will be looking at five races this weekend highlighted by the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland, a $500,000, nine furlong turf contest for three year old fillies.
We then head north to Belmont Park in New York for a pair of turf Stakes races; the $100,000 Floral Park Stakes and the $200,000 Pebbles Stakes.
Heading even further north, we cross over the border to Woodbine Race Course for another pair of turf Stakes races; the E.P Taylor Stakes and the Pattison Stakes.
Saturday, October 13, 2018
Race: 8 (4:43 PM EST Post)
Floral Park Stakes
It appears to me Lady Alexandra did not like the synthetics surface in her debut over it last time out. Nice looking filly by More Than Ready’s previous two races, where she won a Stakes race over this surface and then just missed in quickly run, Grade: 1 while registering a pair of “trips”, would bury these……logical choice if she starts as she is cross entered in the Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine………….Lull looks next best based on her consistency (4-1-1-2 this year) while running in all Graded Stakes races. She should appreciate the class relief she gets in this spot………….…Battle Joined is a $500,000 daughter of War Front who has steadily improved through her last five races as her speed figures would indicate. (69, 75, 82, 83 and 89). In that 89 race, she was making up ground late at 5 ½ furlongs……logical contender stretching out to 6 furlongs here……………….Honorable Mentions: Tillie’s Lilly had a rough trip when losing for the first time in six career starts in her last. Speedster should come out running and could still be “hanging and banging” in deep stretch………….That said, she will have to avoid getting into an early duel with Orecchiette, who is 3 for 4 over this turf course and at this distance. Either could better this rating.
Race: 9 (5:18 PM EST Post)
Significant Form won three of her first four starts to open her career and had legitimate excuses in her last three races (wide trip while coming off a short layoff, overmatched in a Grade: 1 race, then didn’t like the soft going in her last while chasing the talented Rushing Fall). This $575,000 gray filly by Creative Cause should get a firm turf course on Saturday, will be cutting back in distance and dropping in class…..looks marginally best in very competitive horse race…………….Got Stormy is peaking right now as this speedy filly comes into this riding a three race win streak. I like her versatility, she is 4 for 8 in her career including being 4 for 6 at this distance and 1 for 1 on the Belmont “weeds”….figures bang up here…………………Monte Crista is a stretch runner who is 4 for 5 since being introduced to grass racing. This daughter of Cape Blanco has been working very well of late and, although stepping up in class, she also figures close in this spot……………….Honorable Mentions: Altea has yet to run a bad race on either side of the Atlantic Ocean as her 8 on the board finishes out of 10 career starts would indicate. That said, she is just 1 for 10 in the win column……………..Goodthingstaketime is another “nibbler” as she too has hit the board in 8 of 10 career starts but shows just one win as well…………………Cool Beans is a speedy, $300,000 daughter of Candy Ride who has hit the board in all 6 career starts but steps up in class in this spot…………….Oh look, yet another horse coming over from Europe and being handed to trainer Chad Brown in Stella di Camelot. Although she hasn’t exactly been lighting it up, Brown has been deadly with these types of horses and in these situations.
Keeneland Race Course
Race: 9 (5:30 PM EST Post)
Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup
I still think Rushing Fall has immense talent, yet seems to continue to fly under the radar. Filly by More Than Ready is a neck shy of being unbeaten in six lifetime starts and had a very legitimate excuse in that one loss (wrong race tactics). Albeit she is based in New York, there is no doubt the Keeneland turf is her favorite surface (2 for 2 over it) and she has trained very well of late. “Keeneland is like her adopted home track,” said owner Bob Edwards. “She’s 2-for-2 there and looking to try and run well again. I think that (jockey) Javier (Castellano) knows the horse, and Chad has does a phenomenal job building condition into her. She’s breezing with some of the best horses in the country that Chad has in his stable.” …She is a very logical choice in this race but don’t look for her in the Breeders’ Cup. “(The distance of the Filly & Mare Turf) is just too long and too quick of a turnaround,” Edwards added. “We’re looking forward to a solid 4 year old career where she keeps getting better and better.”………………….Secret Message is in career best form right now based off her Grade: 3 win two starts back, where she passed nine horses in the last half mile of that race, and her “just missed” second place finish in a Grade: 2 in New York last time. Filly by Hat Trick has yet to run a bad race on the turf and is still improving……………………..It’s tough to get a read on the obscurely bred Fatale Bere. On one hand, she looks to be peaking in form, highlighted by pulling off a 7-1 upset in the Grade: 1 Del Mar Oaks in her last. Yet on the other hand, her figures and past performances also suggest she is ready to bounce like a bad check. I’m really not sure what to make of her but I’m going to throw her in some exotics combos………………..Honorable Mentions: Daddy is a Legend has been “right there” at the finish in six straight Graded Stakes races in Kentucky and New York, so she must be mentioned. That said, she has been beaten fair and square by my top pick all three times they met……………………Princess Warrior is another who is in peak form right now. This stretch runner by Midshipman has taken to the turf like a duck to water, but her speed figures lack vs. most of these and that 2 for 12 career record is troubling me.
Woodbine Race Course
Race: 9 (5:42 PM EST Post)
Thundering Blue ran third at 50-1, beaten by less than four lengths to 2017 British 2 Year Old Champion Roaring Lion, in the prestigious Juddmonte International at York two starts back. You can throw his (sprinters) pedigree out the window and over the neighbor’s fence as he seems to relish these longer distance races. I also found it interesting that he hasn’t run over a turf course labeled firm in well over a year. This gray son of Exchange Rate sandwiched that third place finish with two wins and is my best guess is a ridiculously difficult race to figure…………………….Wow, what a great claim English Illusion looks to be. This five year old gelding was taken out of $45,000 claiming race three starts back, yet came back to win a $100,000 Stakes race in his next start. The son of English Channel then rallied from last to finish third, beaten by just one length, (at 34-1) in the Grade: 1 Northern Dancer last time out after being snarled in traffic at the top of the stretch….He won’t be 34-1 again as he figures bang up in this spot ………………..You can go ahead and draw a line through Spring Quality’s last race as he clearly didn’t handle the soft turf course. Although he is giving me hints he is slightly “over the top”, a bounce back to any of his four or five previous races puts him in the mix here…………….Honorable Mentions: Johnny Bear was 17-1 when he upset the aforementioned Northern Dancer field while winning it for the second consecutive year. Although he seems to be in very good racing form right now, based off his past performances, I just don’t trust him 100%……………………….They better not let Tiz a Slam lope along on an uncontested early lead here. If they do, they might have a heck of time trying to run down this speedster down the lane…………….Funtastic’s last race was too bad to be true. I’m not quite sure what happened to him in that race (seventh, beaten by seven lengths) but he could bounce back and run well in this spot. But in order to do that, he must avoid an early duel with Tiz a Slam.
Race: 10 (6:18 PM EST Post)
E.P. Taylor Stakes
I apologize in advance for sounding like a broken record but…. trainer Chad Brown enters a very formidable 1-2 punch in this race. Actually he has a formidable 1, 2, 5 punch here. It starts with Santa Monica, whose career has taken off since being brought over from Europe and handed over to Brown. This five year old mare by Mastercraftsman was a half a length short of winning her first three races in this country in dramatic, come from behind style. You can completely throw out her last race where she was caught behind a ridiculously slow pace (so slow I think “I ” could have run faster). Looks best provided none of the European horses are the second coming of Ruffian……Her stable-mate Pollara is an interesting horse. This good looking filly by Camelot is two for three in her career and will be making her first start for Brown in this spot. The fact that she will be running in a Grade: 1, at 10 furlongs, in a different country, in just her 4th career start, is a daunting task….. Brown must have a boatload of confidence in her to put her in such a situation. Now tack on the fact you get the “first time Lasix” angle as well and you should come up with a horse that merits attention…………………….Sheikha Reika has been first or second in six of seven lifetime starts in Great Britain. This $735,000 filly did show a very impressive late run in her last race when winning by 4+ lengths. A repeat of that performance would make her tough in here…………………….Honorable Mentions: I hate to put Starship Jubilee this far down as she looks to be sitting on another big race. This filly is batting .500 on the turf (11 for 22) and over this turf course (4 for 8). Off of back to back wins by daylight, this filly is clearly in raging form right now…….could easily better this rating…………………..Elysea’s World is another who is peaking right now off of back to back wins. This mare is having a very good year (3 for 5) especially compared to last year (0 for 9) and ran well in her one and only try on this course…………Proctor’s Ledge will need to improve or revert back to last year’s form in order to contend in this race. That said, she has been facing some good ones (Fourstar Crook, Sistercharlie twice, and A Raving Beauty) this year and wasn’t completely embarrassed in any of those races by any stretch of the imagination.
By: Gerard Apadula
Director of Equine Operations and Development
Knights of the Round Stable Thoroughbred Racing Team
2018- Record: 87-207= 42%
2017- Record: 92-235 = 39%
2016- Record: 91-229 = 40%
2015- Record: 67-180 = 37%
2014- Record: 29-73 = 40%
2013- Record: 20-59= 34%
2012 -Record: 24-73= 33%
2011 –Record: N/A
Little Bets N’ Pieces
**** Spendthrift Farm announced the 2019 fees for its 25 stallion roster for the upcoming breeding season led by leading sire Into Mischief, whose fee has moved to $150,000 (from $100,000) and is booked full…..still.
Among the new stallions are Grade: 1 winners Mor Spirit ($10,000) and Bolt d’Oro, who remains in training through the end of the season.
Bolt d’Oro‘s initial fee has been set at $25,000 but is subject to change pending race results.
**** Army Mule, the undefeated winner of this year’s Grade: 1 Carter Handicap, has been retired from racing and will enter stud in 2019 at John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm. He will stand $10,000.
This one hurts….this colt showed unlimited talent.
“Army Mule won his first three starts by more than 22 lengths. His facile win in the Carter in near track record time left no doubt he was a generational talent,” Sikura said. “When breeders see the horse in person, they will be overwhelmed by his presence and understand why he was the talk of the Maryland 2-year-old sale. Undefeated, brilliant and beautiful, the same qualities we saw in Candy Ride and Maclean’s Music, breeders will love him.”
“Army Mule was a special talent,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He was a pleasure to train with a terrific disposition and gorgeous conformation. He had a high cruising speed that allowed him to win a Grade I sprint, but I also believe he could have carried it over a route of ground had he been given the opportunity.”
**** In one of the biggest increases I’ve seen in a while, Quality Road who ranks among the nation’s leading general sires in 2018, will see his stud fee go from $70,000 to $150,000 in 2019.
Quality Road’s year has been spectacular which included Grade: 1 wins by Abel Tasman, Bellafina, City of Light, Salty and Spring Quality.
Quality Road enters his eighth year at stud in 2019 at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky.
“His performance at the top level is really phenomenal,” said Lane’s End’s Bill Farish. “His number of Grade: 1 winners through five crops is approaching what some of the truly great stallions achieved to start–Danzig, Storm Cat, Galileo. He’s in the same conversation…He gets early horses, he gets Classic horses. He’s just an exceptional sire.”
The powerhouse Lane’s End will welcome three newcomers to the roster in 2019. Four time Grade: 1 winner Accelerate, 2017 Champion Three Year Old West Coast and Quality Road’s own, City of Light.
Stud fees for those three will be announced at a later date.
“We’re very excited about our three new horses, and we’re very excited to get a son of Quality Road in City of Light,” said Farish. “All three are exciting prospects. With Accelerate being a four time Grade:1 winner this year and one of the favorites for the Classic, and West Coast also being one of the favorites, it will be a nail biting Classic for us.”
2019 also marks the return of The Factor, who returns from a season in Japan, to stand for a fee of $15,000.
**** Diversify, the Grade 1 Whitney winner who finished fifth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, will not run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, owner Ralph Evans said Thursday.
Evans said a number of things went into the decision to pull the horse from the race including the health of trainer Rick Violette, who has been hospitalized for the past few weeks with an illness, Diversify’s poor performance in the Gold Cup and the horse clearly has a distain for the Churchill Downs surface.
“The fact Rick was not going to make it back in time to train him was probably the primary reason,” Evans said. “Also, he had a tough race in the Gold Cup and was not 100 percent. Churchill was not kind to the horse the last time.”
Evans said Diversify “will get a little bit of rest” and perhaps be pointed to the $9 million Pegasus World Cup next January at Gulfstream Park.