Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Sixteen Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" races, including the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the Preakness Stakes, compete for attention this weekend in three days of racing well beyond an embarrassment of riches.
Keeneland's biggest weekend of the autumn shares the spotlight with one of New York's premier weekends. Pimlico supports the Preakness with three days of graded stakes and Santa Anita sneaks one in, too.
It's an almost unbelievably good extravaganza of racing and tough to sort through. For a handy and thoughtful guide, check out ace analyst Jude Feld's thoughts at popejude.com.
The international program features the Arc and four other graded stakes Sunday at Longchamp, all of them with tickets for the Breeders' Cup on offer. There's also the Sprinters Stakes in Japan, the Sun Chariot in England and three Group 1 events in Australia.
We'll handle the Arc program separately. Here's a brief look at the rest of the tsunami of top-level racing that's about to wash over us:
The $1 million Grade I Preakness at Pimlico, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Classic, finds trainer Bob Baffert with another hot hand. The morning-line favorite, Authentic, exits a mild upset win in the Kentucky Derby while Baffert's other horse, Thousand Words, was scratched at Louisville only minutes before the race when he reared and fell in the Churchill Downs paddock.
Authentic has looked the part since arriving in Baltimore, too. He breezed a half mile Wednesday morning in 47 3/5 seconds, an effort Baffert described as "a little jog."
"He looked good," Baffert said. "Coming off that plane yesterday, he was like a keg of dynamite. He has so much energy, that horse. He's just so full of himself."
Art Collector, another late defector from the Run for the Roses, is second-favorite on the Preakness morning line with wins in the Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Ellis Park Derby in his last two starts. His odds start at 5-2.
Thousand Words and the lone filly in the race, Swiss Skydiver, are both 6-1 on the line with the others all at double-digit odds.
With Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law finishing second in the Derby and top older horse Maximum Security finishing second to Improbable last weekend in the Awesome Again Stakes, an impressive showing in the Preakness would vault Authentic into the top ranks of Breeders' Cup Classic contenders.
And there's this: Tiz the Law, Improbable, Authentic and Thousand Words -- all trained by Baffert.
Also in the Classic division:
Owendale was installed as the 8-5 favorite on the morning line for Friday's $250,000 Grade III Pimlico Special. Nine will tackle 1 3/16 miles. Owendale, trained by Brad Cox, exits a runner-up showing in the Grade II Alysheba at Churchill Downs. The 4-year-old Into Mischief colt was third in last year's Preakness.
Sunday's $400,000 Juddmonte Spinster at Keeneland, a "Win and You're In" for the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff, is missing its would-have-been favorite, Midnight Bisou. The reigning champion U.S. female horse was retired this week after returning from a workout at Saratoga with some issues.
That leaves Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil as a likely favorite despite stepping out against older competitors. The Daredevil filly has won four of her last five. Lady Kate won the Groupie Doll at Ellis Park, then was second in the LaTroienne at Churchill Downs.
The others are good, but seem to have developed allergies to winning.
Eleven 3-year-old fillies, four of them already graded stakes winners, are entered for Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Black-Eyed Susan. In the crazy year that is 2020, the Black-Eyed Susan for the first time is promoted from Friday to share a program with the Preakness.
The four graded stakes winners -- Fair Grounds Oaks winner Bonny South, Monmouth Oaks winner Hopeful Growth, 2019 Spinaway Stakes winner Perfect Alibi and Delaware Oaks winner Project Whiskey -- are no shoo-ins in a well-matched field.
It's worth noting Bonny South was second to Swiss Skydiver in the Grade I Alabama at Saratoga and Swiss Skydiver, as noted above, is running in the Preakness.
Sunday's $150,000 Grade II Beldame at Belmont Park has a field of five. Dunbar Road won last year's Grade I Alabama at Saratoga and exits a victory in the Grade II Delaware Handicap.
Letruska enters off a win in the Grade II Shuvee at Saratoga. Point of Honor has never finished worse than fourth while running mostly in big races, but hasn't won in more than a year and the others look like they must improve to figure here.
With some of his shorter-distance specialists deployed at Keeneland, turf maestro Chad Brown nonetheless is able to muster a pair for Saturday's $250,000 Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park -- among them the 2-1 morning-line pick, Rockemperor.
That one just missed in the Grade II Charles Whittingham in May at Santa Anita and the Grade I Manhattan at Belmont Park before finishing third in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs. Brown also tries Master Piece, making his first start up from South America.
The competition will be fierce in the race, named for the beloved late Daily Racing Form columnist. Channel Maker and Sadler's Joy, second and third last year, are back. Crack German trainer Andreas Wohler brings 2019 Deutches Derby winner Laccario, who seeks a turnaround while getting first-time Lasix.
Saturday's $250,000 Grade I Belmont Derby Invitational, a "Win and You're In" for the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf, drew the first three finishers from the Grade I Saratoga Derby -- Domestic Spending, Gufo and No Word, who finished less than 1 length apart in that race.
Also here are Grade II Del Mar Derby winner Pixelate and Dueling Grounds Derby Moon Over Miami, plus Kentucky Derby 15th place finisher South Bend, who earlier in the year had some turf success.
British-bred Kingman colt Domestic Spending, another from the seemingly bottomless Chad Brown barn, is the morning-line favorite.
Trainer Brad Cox is live with several on Saturday's Pimlico card, none more so than Factor This in the $250,000 Grade II Dinner Party Stakes.
The 5-year-old son of The Factor exits a runner-up showing to Digital Age in the Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and won four in a row before that. He's even-money on the morning line. Somelikeithotbrown could compete with a turnaround of a poor showing in the Turf Classic.
Filly & Mare Turf
The Chad Brown turf spectacular visits Keeneland Saturday for the $350,000 Grade I First Lady, a "Win and You're In" for the Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Brown, who regularly dominates East Coast turf stakes, fields multiple Grade 1 winner Newspaperofrecord and reigning Breeders' Cup Mile winner Uni.
The joker in the deck is Beau Recall, who came from off the pace to defeat Newspaperofrecord in the Grade II Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs in their last race.
Dalika comes off a nice win at Kentucky Downs -- often a precursor to another good effort.
Juliet Foxtrot is a solid 7-5 favorite on the morning line for Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Gallorette Stakes at Pimlico. The 5-year-old Juddmonte Farms homebred gets some class relief after taking on some tougher assignments recently.
Chad Brown has four of the 11 entrants for Saturday's $750,000 Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeeland, an iconic race at the Bluegrass track and a "Win and You're In" for the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile.
The favorite, though, is the Todd Pletcher-trained Halladay, a 4-year-old War Front colt with four wins from his last six starts. Halladay comes off a victory in the Grade I Fourstardave at Saratoga. He's 5-2 on the morning line and, after that, it's wide open.
Of the Brown quartet, look to Analyze It, third in the 2018 Breeders' Cup Mile and making his second start back after a nearly two-year absence; and Flavius, a lightly raced War Front 5-year-old from the Dynaformer mare Starformer who won the Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs in his last start.
Saturday's $200,000 Grade II City of Hope Mile at Santa Anita features Mo Forza, a 4-year-old Uncle Mo colt who has won four of his last five starts, all graded stakes.
After that, it's a motley, if talented, crew, including: Sharp Samurai, second in two-turn races on the turf and the dirt in his last two starts; Restrainedvengence, last seen winning the Downs at Albuquerque Handicap on the dirt just two weeks ago; Royal Ship, making his second start up from Brazil; and Blitzkreig, who raced in Dubai early in the year.
Sunday's $100,000 Grade III Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational has nine takers plus one for main track only. Archidust enters off back-to-back wins in Monmouth Park stakes. Battle Station and Pulsate were 1-2 in the Lucky Coin Stakes at Saratoga a month ago. This is the penultimate event on a 10-race card and looks like a challenge for the Pick 5, 4 and 3 players.
You could make a good case for at least seven of the nine entrants for Saturday's $150,000 Grade II Woodford at Keeneland. Extravagant Kid is the narrow 5-2 favorite on the morning line off a close second to Diamond Oops in the Grade II Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs but is 0-for-3 at the Lexington oval.
Leinster, posted at 3-1, comes off a victory in the Grade II Shakertown during the Keeneland summer meet and has two wins and a second over the local sod.
Pimlico hosted a pair of turf sprint stakes on Thursday. Hollis went to an early lead in the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint and held on to win by a neck over Completed Pass.
Hollis, a 5-year-old Street Sense gelding, ran 5 furlongs on yielding going in 59.61 seconds with Gabriel Saez up. In the $100,000 The Very One Stakes for fillies and mares, A Great Time rallied from next-last of 12 to win by 1 length from Mr. Al's Gal.
The winner, a 6-year-old Street Magician mare, required 1:00.14 to cover the distance with Julian Pimentel in the irons.
Sprint / Dirt Mile
Friday's $200,000 Grade II Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix at Keeneland, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, has a full field with the versatile Diamond Oops returning to the dirt fresh off a win in the Grade II Twin Spires Turf Sprint Sept. 4 at Churchill Downs.
Grade I winners Echo Town and No Parole also figure. Whitmore won this in 2017, was second in 2018 and 2019 and tries again at age 7.
Code of Honor and Complexity look like the toughest of five in Saturday's $150,000 Grade II Kelso at Belmont Park. Code of Honor was third in the Grade I Met Mile two starts back, beaten less than 2 lengths.
He won the Dwyer at this same 1-mile distance but also has been spectacular going longer. Complexity has had ups and downs but won the Grade I Champagne over the course and distance two years ago and in his last start was second going 7 furlongs in the Saratoga slop in the Grade I Forego.
Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Pimlico has a well-matched field of eight with lightly raced 4-year-old Landeskog a narrow favorite on the morning line. He has wins at Oaklawn, Del Mar and Ellis Park. Admiral Lynch and Stan the Man also get some love from the oddsmaker.
Thursday at Pimlico, Yaupon showed the way in the $200,000 Grade III Chick Lang Stakes for 3-year-olds and drew off, winning by 4 lengths, ridden out by John Velazquez. Yaupon, an Uncle Mo colt, got 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.10. He remains undefeated after four starts, one at Churchill Downs and two at Saratoga.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, features four fillies who come from the points of the compass.
Sneaking Out won the Grade III Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar in her last start. Lady's Island trained at Gulfstream Park. Two others, locally based Dos Vinos and Palace Avenger, based this summer at Saratoga, take the step up to graded stakes company.
Frank's Rockette looms one of the hottest favorites of the weekend as a standout among six in Saturday's $150,000 Grade II Gallant Bloom at Belmont Park.
The 3-year-old Into Mischief filly, trained by Bill Mott, faces older rivals for the first time but her resume inspires confidence. She has five wins and four seconds from nine starts, rides a three-race win streak into Saturday's tilt and is the 1-2 favorite on the morning line.
Mundaye Call takes the favorite's role into Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Miss Preakness Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico. The Into Mischief filly has won three of her last four starts but looks for a first graded stakes win. She could have to contest the lead with Grade III Charles Town Oaks winner Fly On Angel.
Saturday's $400,000 Grade I Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, a "Win and You're In" for the TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile, has some expensive youngsters looking to justify their purchase prices.
King Fury fetched $950,000. Founder was hammered down for $600,000. Calibrate sold for $340,000. The 2-1 morning-line favorite, though, is Godolphin's homebred Tapit colt Essential Quality, last seen in a nice, off-the-pace win in his debut at Churchill Downs Sept. 5.
Five races spread across the continent and two days will help shape the Breeders' Cup field in this division. Turn your attention Saturday to the $150,000 Grade II Pilgrim at Belmont Park and the $150,000 Laurel Futurity at Pimlico.
Sunday's action is the $200,000 Grade II Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, the $150,000 Nownownow Stakes at Monmouth Park and the $100,000 Zuma Beach at Santa Anita
A field of seven is assembled for Friday's $350,000, Grade I Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Headliners are Thoughtfully, undefeated after two starts including the Grade II Adirondack at Saratoga, and Crazy Beautiful, second in the Grade III Pocahontas at Churchill Downs.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Three weekend races will shape the immediate future of this division.
Saturday's feature is the $150,000 Selima Stakes at Pimlico. Sunday the action moves to Belmont Park for the $150,000 Grade II Miss Grillo and then across the country for the $100,000 Surfer Girl at Santa Anita.
Juvenile Turf Sprint
Sunday's $150,000 Indian Summer Stakes at Keeneland is a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint to be held on the same course five weeks later.
Around the world, around the clock:
See separate preview of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and its four attendant stakes, all Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" affairs. It's on upi.com, in the sports section.
Saturday's Group 1 Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes, a 1-mile test for fillies and mares, features a well-balanced bunch starting with the Coolmore filly Peaceful.
It's a shame Peaceful and Love couldn't have stayed together but, perhaps, a good showing here might lead to a reunion. Also of note here is Champers Elysees, winner of all four starts this year and recently sold to Japanese racing kingpin Teruya Yoshida.
Sunday's Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama features a rematch between Mozu Superflare and Gran Alegria, the 1-2 finishers from Japan's other Grade 1 sprint, the Takamatsunomia Kinen. Those two were promoted to the top spots when the first finisher was disqualified to fourth.
Gran Alegria was among the favorites for the March fixture while Mozu Superflare went to the post at odds of better than 30-1. The Kentucky-bred mare would become just the sixth to sweep the races in the same year.
The field also includes 2019 Takamatsunomia Kinen winner Mr. Melody and Danon Smash, third in last year's Sprinters Stakes.
Veery Elleegant will look to return to winning form in Saturday's Group 1 TAB Turnbull Stakes, 2,000 meters at Flemington. The 5-year-old Kiwi mare reported fourth in the Group 1 George Main Stakes at Randwick two weeks ago after kicking off her springtime campaign with a win in the Grade I Winx Stakes.
The opposition this time around includes Kings Will Dream and Finche, the first two home in the 2019 Turnbull
Saturday's Group 1 Heineken Metropolitan at Royal Randwick has a big field with all kinds of possibilities. Mustajeer and Mugatoo, both trained by Kris Lees, are the top-rated.
Zac Purton and Joao Moreira each rode three winners at Thursday's National Day meeting at Sha Tin Racecourse, with Moreira's hat trick including potential Hong Kong Classic Mile prospect Sky Field.
Purton now holds a six-wins lead over Purton in the premiership chase, 18-12. Karis Teetan was blanked on National Day and slipped to third place with 11 victories.