Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" turf events at Arlington Park and Saratoga top the weekend Thoroughbred racing agenda, with some Irish invaders hoping to stop trainer Chad Brown's march through American turf stakes.
Brown looks to continue his recent dominance of both the Grade I Arlington Million and the Grade I Beverly D. for fillies and mares at Arlington -- and has the goods to do it. At Saratoga, another from the Brown barn is the favorite to shatter the "glass ceiling" in the Grade I Fourstar Dave at 1 mile on the lawn.
On the international front, the big news is the formal announcement Wednesday at Saratoga of the inaugural $20 million Saudi Cup, to be run Feb. 29 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh. See much more below on that.
And live racing returns to Virginia Saturday night at Colonial Downs, for the first time since 2013.
But first things first:
Saturday's Grade I Arlington Million XXXVII, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Turf, drew the top American turf runner, Bricks and Mortar, who could face his toughest test of the year.
Bricks and Mortar, a 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway, has won all four starts this season and is headed for the Breeders' Cup and then a career at stud in Japan. Based on his current form, he fully deserves his favorite status here. It doesn't hurt that he's campaigned by the red-hot Chad Brown, who has a solid hand in all three Grade I races on Arlington's Saturday card.
But, unless she is unexpectedly detoured to the Beverly D. on the same card, he will have to get Irish maestro Aidan O'Brien's top hope, Magic Wand. The 4-year-old Galileo filly was second to Bricks and Mortar in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf in January, finished fifth in the Dubai Sheema Classic and then a close third in the Grade I Man o' War at Belmont Park. She has knocked heads against the best in England and Ireland this summer.
The field also includes last year's Million winner, Robert Bruce, who was second to Bricks and Mortar in the Grade I Manhattan in their last start and also hails from the Brown barn; Intellogent, a promising French invader who could upset things; and the top three finishers in the local prep, Bandua, The Great Day and Captivating Moon.
Filly & Mare Turf
Sister Charlie rides a four-race winning streak into Saturday's $600,000 Grade I Beverly D. at Arlington Park, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. The streak includes a win in last year's Beverly D. and a repeat would make her the first two-time winner of the event. It also would be the fifth straight win in the race for Brown, who also saddles Competitionofideas and expected pacesetter Thais for the 1 3/16-miles race.
O'Brien has cross-entered Magic Wand in the Beverly D. but she is widely expected to contest the Million, leaving Fleeting to uphold Irish honor. She seems more than capable of doing that after finishing a close third in the Investec Oaks at Epsom, second in the Group 2 Ribblesdale and second again in the Irish Oaks. In the last two starts, only Star Catcher finished in front of Fleeting and Star Catcher is special. Ryan Moore will be in to ride Fleeting.
The others in the eight-horse field appear to be in a different league. But, that's why they run the races.
Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds at Arlington Park has been shortened to 1 mile this year and has a very wide-open look about it. Nine are entered and the two Chad Brown runners, Fog of War and Valid Point, are among the morning-line favorite. O'Brien brings Never No More and Van Beethoven. Although Never No More has won his last two, those were well down the class ladder. Van Beethoven has disappointed.
Also in the Secretariat are the 1-2-3 finishers from the local prep, the Grade III American Derby -- Faraway Kitten, The Last Zip and Cafty Daddy.
Anyone paying attention won't be surprised that Brown ALSO has the favorite -- among three starters -- in Saturday's $500,000 Grade Fourstar Dave Handicap at Saratoga, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Mile. Uni, a 5-year-old More Than Ready mare, is the 3-1 pick on the morning line even though no female has ever won this prestigious heat. Uni rides a five-race win skein in to the Fourstardave.
Brown also has the second-favorite in the Fourstardave, Raging Bull, and relative outsider Made You Look. Others to watch: Hembree, Dr. Edgar and Got Stormy.
Already in the books: Archidust dusted the competition in Wednesday's $100,000 Mahony Stakes for 3-year-olds at Saratoga. After rating behind the speed, the Verrazano colt surged to the front in the stretch and won by 3 lengths over Neverland Rock, scoring his third straight victory. The winner's cause was aided when Uncle Benny, the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up, stumbled badly at the start and beat only one rival. Archidust, with Javier Castellano up, ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:00.80 over firm turf. Trainer Jorge Navarro said switching to turf has turned the colt around, adding, "I think there's a race at Kentucky Downs."
Green Light Go is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Saratoga Special. The Hard Spun colt, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, defeated four other first-time starters at Belmont Park on the Fourth of July, winning by 3 1/4 lengths after dueling for the lead. This race is 6 1/2 furlongs. None of the others has beaten winners yet, either, and, as always with 2-year-olds, anything can happen.
Out west, Schrodinger is the 2-1 favorite among seven entered for Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Best Pal at Del Mar. The Justin Phillip colt, like Green Light Go, is 1-for-1 on his young career, the win coming at Los Alamitos. Among the others, Raging Whiskey finished third in the Grade III Sanford at Saratoga and Fore Left comes off a win in the Tremont at Saratoga. Fore Left is the only entrant who has beaten winners.
These divisions mostly get a weekend off. But don't miss catching Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs in Washington and Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Grade III Seagram Cup at Woodbine.
On the international beat:
Too Darn Hot's victory in the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood last week came at a high price. The colt sustained an injury to his right hind leg that required surgery and he has been retired. Simon Marsh, racing manager for owner Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, said the injury was not life-threatening and the colt, winner of three Group 1 events, will stand at Dalham Hall Stud next season.
Saturday's Group 3 Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock Park is worth a peek. The 10-furlongs race drew Wissahickon, Thundering Blue, Matterhorn and Addeybb, among others. Matterhorn and Wissahickon finished 1-2 in the Easter Classic on All-Weather Championship Finals Day on Good Friday. Addeybb won the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, before chasing home Elarqam in the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes last month. Globetrotting Thundering Blue could be warming up for more travels late in the season.
Sunday's Group 1 Jacques Le Marois (Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard) at Deauville is 1,600 meters and drew a field of eight. Among them is Study of Man, a 4-year-old by the recently deceased Japanese supersire Deep Impact. Study of Man won last year's Prix du Jockey Club or French Derby but is winless in six starts since then. Romanised and Watch Me bear watching, too.
Saturday's Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin (Longines) at Berlin Hoppegarten features Godolphin runner Old Persian, winner of the Dubai Sheema Classic on World Cup night. The 4-year-old Dubawi colt, however, will have to improve on a seventh-place showing in his last start, the Group 1 Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom May 31.
News and Notes
The biggest news of the week is the formal announcement of the new world's richest race -- the Saudi Cup, worth $20 million and set for its first run Feb. 29, 2020 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh. The race had been rumored for some two years and already has drawn support from some of the industry's major international players.
The Saudi Cup slots between the Grade I Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in late January and the Dubai World Cup in late March.
This is one we will follow with interest. There are obstacles to overcome, as with any new venture, especially in a location unfamiliar to much of the target audience. But, as trainer Bob Baffert commented before the announcement, "If you put up $20 million, you will get good horses in your starting gate."
It's not new but it is good news that Colonial Downs has returned racing to Virginia for the first time since 2013. The track reopened Thursday and Virginia-bred runners are featured Saturday night in four $100,000 stakes races, all to be contested over the Secretariat Turf Course. Colonial is under new ownership. Welcome back!