Maxfield, shown winning the Mineshaft Stakes at Fair Grounds in February, is the favorite in Saturday's Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Classic. Photo courtesy of Fair Grounds
June 25 (UPI) -- Four Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" races span the globe during the weekend, from Peru to Japan and back to Louisville, Ky., where Maxfield looms as the favorite in the Stephen Foster.
The Irish Derby provides a second chance for a few who came up short on the Epsom Downs early in the month.
As we await this week's action, feast on the results of Canterbury Park's biggest day, including the Mystic Lake Derby.
The Pontiff, Jude Feld, is back in action this weekend for those looking for another take on handicapping. Jude's expert analysis from the industry's inside workings are available at popejude.com with comments on Churchill Downs, Belmont Park and Thistledown -- yes, Thistledown. See the "Question of the Day" at the end of the preview.
But first, this:
Maxfield looms over eight rivals in Saturday's $600,000 Grade II Stephen Foster at Belmont Park, a "Win and You're In" for the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic.
The 4-year-old Street Sense colt, a Godolphin homebred trained by Brendan Walsh, has won six of his seven career starts and was last seen drawing off to a 3 1/4-length victory in the Grade III Alysheba going 1 1/16 miles over the same track.
The opposition for this 1 1/8-mile test includes Visitant, who was second in the Alysheba, but seemed unlikely to flag down Maxfield, even if they'd gone around another lap. Sprawl has run well in his last two starts, both under the Twin Spires, and could play a role.
Saturday's $500,000 Grade III Ohio Derby at Thistledown, as usual, has several contenders from the Triple Crown trail among the 11 entries.
It does not have a clear favorite, though, and the late-blooming Promise Keeper, a Constitution colt trained by Todd Pletcher, is the 7-2 favorite on the morning line off a victory in the Grade III Peter Pan at Belmont Park May 8.
King Fury makes his first start since winning the Grade III Lexington at Keeneland April 10. Keepmeinmind was seventh in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness. Hozier, formerly trained by Bob Baffert, starts here for Rodolphe Brisset.
Letruska headlines a solid field of six for Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs, a "Win and You're In" for the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff.
The 5-year-old Super Saver mare, 4-5 favorite on the morning line, has won four of her last five starts including the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park and the Grade I Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park in her last two outings.
Envoutante was second in the Grade I La Troienne behind Shedaresthedevil on Oaks Day and returned with a win in the Shawnee at course and distance May 29. Spice Is Nice, bred by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, is cross-entered in Saturday's Lady Jacqueline at Thistledown.
Clairiere is a graded stakes winner and finished fourth in the Kentucky Oaks in her last start but that's not enough to make her the morning-line favorite among five 3-year-old fillies set for Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Mother Goose at Belmont Park.
That honor goes to Always Carina, a Malibu Moon filly trained by Chad Brown who has won both previous starts, at Aqueduct in April and Belmont in May.
In the latest, the Three Chimneys Farm homebred stumbled at the start, quickly recovered and won by 9 3/4 lengths. She gets an acid test against Clairiere with Make Mischief an improving threat, too.
Graded stakes performers Spice Is Nice, Horologist and Getridofwhatailsu stand out in a field of nine for Saturday's $250,000 Lady Jacqueline Stakes at Thistledown.
A couple others are worth noting: Jilted Bride, who has a record of 3-4-3 from 10 starts, mostly at Oaklawn Park, and Gran Baby, who makes her first start outside her native Chile and first start anywhere in 15 months.
The latter was a graded stakes winner in South America, but her works at Churchill Downs for trainer Kenny McPeek don't inspire a whole lot of confidence. Spice Is Nice is cross-entered in the Grade II Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs.
Souper Escape, Heavenly Curlin and Mervelleux are bunched atop a field of eight gathered for Saturday's 1 1/16-miles, $150,000 (Canadian) Trillium on the Woodbine all-weather. All are returning from extended layoffs, so caution is the watchword.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Brad Cox brings Dreamalildreamofu up the dreaded I-65 from Churchill Downs to assume the favorite's role in Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Chicago Handicap at Arlington Park.
The 7 furlongs on the all-weather track attracted a field of 11 with Cox's 4-year-old Commissioner filly installed in the outside gate and starting at 5-2. She exits a runner-up showing in the Grade III Allaire DuPont at Pimlico and, one race before that, won the Latonia Stakes on the Turfway Park all-weather surface. After her, it's a wide open race.
Glacial and Vodka Water finished first and second in a recent maiden event at Churchill Downs and look as good as any of the 11 set for Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs.
There are some bargain-bin 2-year-olds in the bunch -- $3,000 and $3,500 auction purchases in a race that's an early indicator for the Kentucky Derby. Watch and learn.
Ten 2-year-old fillies are entered for Saturday's $150,000 Debutante at Churchill Downs. Each of them won her last race. Wicked Halo is by Gun Runner, whose stud career seems to be starting with a bang (see what we did there?) and she is trained by Steve Asmussen for owner-breeder Winchell Thoroughbreds.
The filly won her only previous start by 2 lengths going 5 furlongs on a muddy Lone Star Park track. Asmussen trained Gun Runner for the Winchell operation.
Somelikeithotbrown has two wins and two seconds from four starts going 1 1/16 miles on the grass -- the precise trip he faces in Saturday's $300,000 Grade II Wise Dan at Churchill Downs.
That's the plus side. On the other, despite the reference in his name to Louisville's famous open-face sandwich, the 5-year-old son of Big Brown has been blanked in two starts on the local grass. He does come off a Grade II win at Pimlico. Others to consider include Set Piece and Field Pass.
Saturday's $150,000 War Chant for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs is run at 1 mile and looks a proper puzzle. Two of the eight will try the turf for the first time, including Helium, who finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby.
A few others have bounced among surfaces. In Effect dropped down to the claiming ranks to get his first win in his last start.
Three-year-old fillies tackle the $150,000 Tepin Stakes Saturday at Churchill Downs with Tobys Heart, Invincible Gal and Adventuring all getting some attention on the morning line.
King of Miami, an American Pharoah gelding trained by Arlington Park kingpin Larry Rivelli, won a three-way battle to the finish in Wednesday's $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park, edging the odds-on favorite, T D Dance, by a head.
Modern Science was third, another head in arrears, as King of Miami finished 1 mile in 1:34.76 with Jareth Loveberry up. King of Miami won for the first time two starts back at Belmont Park and finished fourth as the favorite in an Arlington turf allowance June 10.
Older horses tackled Wednesday's $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile at Canterbury Park with Hieronymus putting a nose in front of pacesetting Cinco Star at the wire. It was another 2 3/4 lengths to Tut's Revenge in third with the favorite, Parlor, reporting a dull seventh.
Hieronymus, a 4-year-old Godolphin homebred colt by Girolamo, finished in course-record time of 1:32.93 with Florent Geroux riding for trainer Brad Cox. Hieronymus won the Black Gold Stake at Fair Grounds in February 2020, but had not won since.
Filly & Mare Turf
Saranya worked to the lead in the stretch run in Wednesday's $100,000 Curtis Sampson Oaks at Canterbury Park, then held off a late bid by Amalfi Princess by a neck to secure the win. Pretty In Pink was another 1 length back in third.
Saranya, a daughter of The Factor from Brad Cox's loaded barn, ran 1 mile on the firm turf course in 1:35.04 with Florent Geroux in the irons. She was last seen finishing fourth in the Grade II Appalachian at Keeneland on April 3 -- her only off-the-board finish in eight career starts.
Evil Lyn, the odds-on favorite, rallied by the early leaders late in Wednesday's $100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes and got home first by 1 length over Princess Causeway. Urban Fairytale was third with a late bid.
Evil Lyn, a 4-year-old daughter of Wicked Strong, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:34.01 with Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons. Coincidentally, Evil Lyn finished fourth in the 2020 Appalachian.
Jazzy Times rallied four-wide from the middle of the field in Wednesday's $100,000 Dark Star Turf Sprint at Canterbury Park and was along just in time to win by a head from the favorite, High Crime. Wellabled was third.
Jazzy Times, an 8-year-old gelding by Discreetly Mine, finished 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.31 seconds for jockey Chad Lindsay
Around the world, around the clock:
Sunday's Grade Takarazuka Kinen, a "Win and You're In" for the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf, looks like a cozy spot for Chrono Genesis, a 5-year-old Bago mare. She is a three-time Group 1 winner while many of the rivals in this field repeatedly have come up short at the top level of Japanese racing.
Still, many of those efforts have been good tries and it would not take much to see an upset. The Japan Racing Association gives fans a chance to vote which horses they want to see in the Takarazuka Kinen -- no obligation, of course -- and Chrono Genesis was the top vote-getter.
Saturday's Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh snapped into focus in High Definition for the betting shops, who all make the Galileo colt the substantial favorite.
High Definition, with all the Coolmore-O'Brien-Ryan mojo going for him, won both starts as a 2-year-old and reported third in his only start this year, the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Stakes at York. He again faces the winner of that race, Hurricane Lane, a Godolphin colt by Frankel.
O'Brien has five of the 11, also including Van Gogh, Wordsworth, Arturo Toscanini and Matchless. Jim Bolger's Mac Swiney, winner of the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas, also is in with a big shot.
Sunday's Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes for fillies and mares, pending final declarations, gives Santa Barbara another chance, albeit against older rivals.
O'Brien had the highest of hopes for the Camelot filly, but she could finish only fourth in the Qipco 1000 Guineas and fifth in the Cazoo Oaks. Cayenne Pepper and Thundering Nights are among the older rivals.
Saturday's Gran Premio Pamplona for fillies and mares, 1 1/4 miles on the turf at Hipodromo Monterrico in Lima is a "Win and You're In" for the Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Meanwhile, back in the States:
Wednesday's program attracted horses from the barns of some of nation's top trainers to test the firm Minnesota turf. See the various "turf" segments for details of the open races.
Star of the North, last seen down south at Sam Houston, dominated six rivals in the restricted $60,000 MTA Stallion Auction Stakes for 3-year-olds. Sired by The Hunk, the filly quickly assumed the lead under Ry Eikleberry, then drew off smartly to win by 7 1/4 lengths. She finished 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.82.
Hard Luck Justice surged to the lead at the three-eighths pole in Wednesday's $75,000 Hoosier Breeders' Sophomore Stakes for Indiana-bred 3-year-olds and jetted away to win by 6 1/4 lengths. Altered came with a late run to take second over Lookin At Justice. The favorite, Nobody Listens, faded from the lead to finish fourth.
Hard Luck Justice, a Harry's Holiday gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.24 with Samuel Bermudez riding.
In the 3-year-old filly division, Pearl Tiara took the lead after a half mile and kicked clear, winning by 8 3/4 lengths over Diamond Solitare. The favorite, Verry Amelia, ran evenly and settled for third.
Pearl Tiara, a Majestic Harbor filly, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.60 with Fernando De La Cruz aboard. The bejeweled exacta returned $39 for a $2 investment.
Beren showed his heels to five rivals in the stretch run of Tuesday's $122,275 Crowd Pleaser Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-olds, winning by 9 1/2 lengths, well in hand. Like a Saltshaker was best of the rest with Fire's Finale third.
Beren, a Weigelia colt, ran 1 1/16 miles on a good track in 1:44.89 with Frankie Pennington riding.
Hey Mamaluke stalked the pace in Tuesday's $116,975 Power By Far Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares, jumped to a comfortable lead in the stretch and won by 1 3/4 lengths. Precious was second, 3 1/2 lengths better than Tara's Talent.
Hey Mamaluke, a 5-year-old Jump Start mare, ran 5 furlongs on a good track in 57.66 seconds with Silvestre Gonzalez up. The race was switched off the turf.
Question of the Day
Why is the northern Ohio track called Thistledown?
Answer: I have no idea. I've been asking this for some 25 years and have yet to get an answer. Anyone?