With the Breeders’ Cup less than three weeks away the prep races are coming fast and
furious. Some of the major preps were held over the weekend of October 2nd and October 3rd at
Belmont and Santa Anita.
On October 2nd at Belmont they hosted four consecutive Grade I races, each of them having
an impact on the Breeders’ Cup.
In the Grade I Flower Bowl on the turf for fillies and mares the winner was RISKAVERSE, who
scored by ¾’s of a length. The 4-5 favorite WONDER AGAIN stalked the leaders but never made a
winning move and finished sixth. The win was RISKAVERSE’S first win since November of 2003 when
Cornelio Velasquez was last aboard her. No decision about the Breeders’ Cup has been made as of
this writing for RISKAVERSE.
In the Grade I Vosburgh, it was a compact field of five horses but there was definitely quality
there. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner CAJUN BEAT (who was making his first start for trainer
Bobby Frankel), SPEIGHTSTOWN, undefeated in 2004 for the Pletcher/Velazquez combo and
PICO CENTRAL, the Carter and Met Mile hero. SPEIGHTSTOWN broke on the lead and took some
pressure from CAJUN BEAT but the half was not that fast for these horses, 45:3. PICO CENTRAL stalked
the pace while racing three wide and took over as they entered the stretch. He showed why he is the
best sprinter in the country drawing away for an easy score. VOODOO the longest shot in the race got
up for second and SPEIGHTSTOWN just held third over CAJUN BEAT. It looks like SPEIGHTSTOWN
and CAJUN BEAT will both move on but PICO CENTRAL who is not eligible and would have to be
supplemented may skip. However, the Sprint will be one of the toughest races on the card either way.
In the next race the Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic it was a two horse race. The two favorites
were 1-2 under the wire in reverse order. Second choice, KITTEN’S JOY proved his worth against older
horses defeating the favored MAGISTRETTI. With a strong burst through the stretch he proved that
not only is he the top three year old turf horse in the country he is also one of the best turf horses
overall. He is expected to race in the Breeders’ cup along with MAGISTRETTI.
In the final Grade I of the day it was the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup. Maybe because of the
timing of the race (too close to the Breeders’ Cup) this race came up very weak. The winner of the
race was the slight favorite FUNNY CIDE who battled back for the score. The third place finisher
THE CLIFF’S EDGE was making a winning move on the turn but he hung in the stretch. Turns out after
the race they found that he had a fractured ankle and had to be retired. If FUNNY CIDE moves on
to the Breeders’ Cup Classic he would be up against it but because of his popularity he might take
On Saturday October 2nd Santa Anita hosted some Breeders’ Cup preps of their own. In the
Grade I Yellow Ribbon Stakes on the turf the favorite LIGHT JIG exploded to score going away to
win by four lengths. After saving ground most of the way in 8th she moved up on the turn swung out
and ran by the leaders with ease for the score. This Bobby Frankel trainee will probably be the
favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare turf if she runs; she is expected to run.
The Grade II Goodwood Handicap, sometimes used as a prep for the Classic, drew five horses
and the winner was LUNDY’S LIABILITY, an import from Dubai via South Africa via Brazil. There
would have to be huge improvement to beat any of the better handicap horses if he does decide to
go to the Breeders’ Cup.
In the Grade II Oak Leaf Stakes for two year old fillies the winner was the second choice,
SWEET CATOMINE. After racing midpack she came with a big sweeping move to win going away and
must be respected in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The favorite SPLENDID BLENDED was second
and easily clear of the third place finisher. Both of these nice looking fillies might move on to the
Breeders’ Cup, decisions were pending.
On Sunday a few more preps were hosted by Santa Anita. The Grade I Clement L. Hirsch turf
championship went to STAR OVER THE BAY. This one time claimer would have to step it up to
challenge any in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The favorite in the race BAYAMO was vanned off.
In the Grade II Lady’s Secret stakes the winner was ISLAND FASHION who was coming off
a long layoff. She rebounded back to her form from earlier this year and must be respected heading
into the Breeders’ Cup off that effort.
In the Grade II Norfolk Stakes for two year olds, we saw 1-9 shot ROMAN RULER score by
4 ½ lengths but did that over very weak competition. There were only three other horses that ran
and none of those horses had any credentials. ROMAN RULER may be a bet against in the
Breeders’ Cup when he will have to face much better competition.