Breeders' Cup Championship fields shaping up after big weekend races

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Lost Ark wins the $500,000 Jockey Club Derby at Aqueduct. Photo by Walter Wlodarczyk, courtesy of New York Racing Association
1 of 2 | Lost Ark wins the $500,000 Jockey Club Derby at Aqueduct. Photo by Walter Wlodarczyk, courtesy of New York Racing Association

Oct. 9 (UPI) -- With 17 "Win and You're In" races decided within the past week, 15 of them in weekend racing, the fields for the Nov. 3-4 Breeders Cup World Championships are taking shaping up nicely with trainers Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher and Brad Cox among those holding strong hands.

The U.S. winners now await the influx of foreign entries, primarily for the turf races on the two days at Santa Anita.


Let's get right to it:


Idiomatic got loose on the lead in Sunday's $600,000 Grade I Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland and wasn't for catching.

The 4-year-old Curlin filly, a Juddmonte homebred, was never seriously in jeopardy and won by 4 1/4 lengths, in hand.

Le Da Vida was second, Bellamore third and the odds-on favorite, Nest, fourth.


Idiomatic, with Florent Geroux up for trainer Cox, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track on a beautiful fall day in Lexington in 1:49.82. It was her fourth straight win, seventh from her last eight starts, and earned a "Win and You're In" spot in the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Randomized went right to the lead in Sunday's $250,000 Grade II Beldame at Aqueduct, bounded along while denying any serious challenges and drew off in the straight to win by 3 3/4 lengths. A Mo Reay was second with Nostalgic and Riding Pretty completing the order of finish.

Randomized, a 3-year-old Nyqist filly, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:49.05. Joel Rosario had the mount for trainer Brown. It was her third straight win and followed a 4-lengths victory in the Grade I Alabama at Saratoga against other 3-year-old fillies.

"It's hard to say how good she is, but she looked very good today," Rosario said.


Hoist the Gold seized the lead in the stretch run of Friday's $350,000 Grade II Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix at Keeneland, a "Win and You're In" for the Qatar Racing Breeders' Cup Sprint, and held on gamely to win by 3/4 length over Nakatomi with Bango third.


Hoist the Gold, a 4-year-old Mineshaft colt trained by Dallas Stewart, was back in the Bluegrass after off-the-board finishes at Del Mar in the Grade I Bing Crosby and Grade II Pat O'Brien.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Yuugiri dueled one foe into submission in Saturday's $350,000 Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland, then had to win a second duel with the favorite, Wicked Halo, before prevailing by a nose.

The 4-year-old Shackleford filly won for the third time in her last four starts. Flavien Prat rode for trainer Rodolphe Brisset. It was a "Win and You're In" for the PNC Bank Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.

Three Witches got first run to the lead in Saturday's $200,000 Princess Rooney Invitational Stakes at Gulfstream Park and held off the favorite, Maryquitecontrary, by 1/2 length for the victory and a "Win and You're In" spot in the PNC Bank Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.

Three Witches, a 4-year-old Into Mischief filly trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., was making her first stakes start.


Locked, an eye-catching winner at Saratoga in his previous start, overcame a wide trip to score an equally impressive, albeit closer, victory in Saturday's $600,000 Grade I Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, a "Win and You're In" for the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Juvenile.


Starting from the outside gate in a field of eight, the Gun Runner colt was stacked out five-wide around the first turn, then was four-wide in the upper stretch and was just up to win by 1/2 length over The Wine Steward. Generous Tipper was third.

Locked, trained by Pletcher, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.06.

Muth, the odds-on favorite, shot by pacesetting Wine Me Up in the stretch run of Saturday's $300,000 Grade I American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita and ran on to win by 3 3/4 lengths, earning a "Win and You're In" slot in the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

The Good Magic colt, with Juan Hernandez up for trainer Bob Baffert, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.45. He improved to 2-for-3 with the only loss a second to another Baffert trainee, Prince of Monaco, in the Grade III Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar.

Baffert also trains Wine Me Up, winner of his only previous start at Del Mar.

Timberlake swung way out toward the middle of the track turning for home in Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Champagne Stakes at Aqueduct and drew off to win by 4 1/4 lengths.


General Partner was second, another 6 1/4 lengths to the good of Dancing Groom with the odds-on favorite, Fierceness, tiring to finish seventh of eight.

Timberlake, an Into Mischief colt trained by Brad Cox, got his second win from four starts while wiping the slate from a second-place finish as favorite in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga. He also earned the "Win and You're In" berth in the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Juvenile Fillies

Candied raced in mid-pack in Friday's $600,000 Grade I Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland, a "Win and You're In" for the NetJets Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, came after the leaders on the far turn and prevailed by 1 length after a long drive. V V's Dream was second and the pacesetter, Alys Beach, held on for third.

Candied, a daughter of Candy Ride, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.17. Luis Saez applied the winning ride for trainer Todd Pletcher. She won her only previous start Aug. 20 at Saratoga.

Just F Y I swooped to the lead entering the stretch run in Saturday's $400,000 Grade I Frizette at Aqueduct and splashed home first by 3 3/4 lengths over the sloppy track to earn a "Win and You're In" spot in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.


Central Avenue slipped up the rail in the final sixteenth to finish second, edging Life Talk.

Just FYI, a Justify filly, won her only previous start at Saratoga. Trained by Bill Mott, she was ridden by Junior Alvarado.

Chatalas bounced back nicely from a trouncing in last month's Del Mar Debutante to win Saturday's $200,000 Grade II Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita by 1 1/2 lengths with a front-running trip. Scalable was second, a neck in front of Dua.

Chatalas, a Gun Runner filly trained by Mark Glatt, improved to 2-for-3 while making her first start around two turns and also scored a "Win and You're In" berth in next month's NetJets Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Worth watching: Royal Slipper, an Uncle Mo filly trained by Wesley Ward for Coolmore "lad" Michael Tabor, was an easy gate-to-wire winner in his career debut Friday at Keeneland.

And on the grass:


Nations Pride continued a globetrotting career for Godolphin with an off-the-pace victory in Sunday's $750,000 (Canadian) Grade I Canadian International at Woodbine, slogging through yielding turf through the stretch to overhaul pacesetting Royal Champion for a 2 1/4-length victory.

Adhamo was third and the best of the locals, Palazzi, finished fourth. Nations Pride now has graded stakes wins in Canada, Germany, Dubai and New York and also has won on all-weather tracks in England. Trainer Charlie Appleby said he next may target Bahrain and Hong Kong.


War Like Goddess lagged in mid-pack through most of Saturday's $500,000 Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Aqueduct as 90-1 long shot So High shot out to a massive lead over the yielding course.

As So High came back to the others, Junior Alvarado got War Line Goddess going and she responded with a gutsy late run that saw her home first by 4 1/2 lengths over Soldier Rising.

So High held on for third, edging the favorite, British invader Rebel's Romance. War Like Goddess, a 6-year-old English Channel mare, won this race last year, and then finished third in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Keeneland. The Brown trainee was coming off a tough loss in the Grade II Glens Falls at Saratoga.

The rain was so bad Saturday at Aqueduct that the $500,000 Jockey Club Derby Invitational was moved to a main track that was so sloppy that Lost Ark sailed right over it to victory.

The Violence colt, with Kendrick Carmouche aboard, raced right behind the early pace, got to the front in the stretch and held off Classic Catch by 3/4 length.

Early leader Fearless Soldier held on for third, giving trainer Pletcher a 1-2-3 sweep.


Lost Ark, out of the A.P. Indy mare Marion Ravenwood, finished third in the Grade III Sarnac at Saratoga in his last start.

Spirit of St. Louis flew down the stretch to win Friday's $125,000 Ashley T. Cole Stakes at Aqueduct over Jerry the Nipper and City Man.

The 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro gelding waited back of the early speed and moved to challenge on the turn. He now has four wins and two seconds for trainer Chad Brown.

Sunday's $150,000 Noble Damsel for fillies and mares at Aqueduct turned into the next thing to a walkover as a

switch from turf to the main track prompted seven scratches, leaving only two to run. Then, only one of them really ran as Gerrymander scooted off to win by 25 lengths over Sunset Louise and make of it what you will. Chad Brown trains Gerrymander.

Filly & Mare Turf

Didia settled nicely behind the front-runners in Saturday's $300,000 Grade II Rodeo Drive Stakes at Santa Anita, launched a bid on the stretch turn and got the job done in the stretch, winning by 1 3/4 lengths from Anisette. Juncture was along for show money.

Didia, a multiple Group 1 winner in her native Argenina, ran 1 1/4 miles on firm turf in 1:59.79 with Vincent Cheminaud up for trainer Ignacio (Nacho) Correas IV.


The 5-year-old mare now has five wins and a second from six North American starts. The Rodeo Drive win included a "Win and You're In" bid to the Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Saturday's $300,000 Grade III Fasig-Tipton Waya Stakes at Aqueduct scratched down to four starters on a miserable, rainy day in New York.

Brown's minions had their way as the designated rabbit, Idea Generation, led early and gave up the advantage late to stablemate and heavy favorite McKulick, who went on by in the final furlong to win by 2 lengths. Idea Generation held second.

McKulick, a 4-year-old Frankel filly, has missed a top-three finish only once in her career but was encountering soggy footing for the first time.

Fev Rover led, took back and came again to win Sunday's $750,000 (Canadian) Grade I E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine, defeating Godolphin visitor With the Moonlight by 2 1/4 lengths over a rain-soaked course labeled "good."

Moira, the 2022 Queen's Plate winner, was third with a good effort. Fev Rover, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare from the Mark Casse stable, won her second Grade I race from her last three starts.

Turf Mile


Brown saddled the first two finishers in Saturday's $750,000 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland, not necessarily in the order he expected.

The favorite, In Italian, led most of the way, secured the rail spot midway through the stretch and looked like the winner until stablemate Gina Romantica came up alongside and put her head in front for the win.

Evvie Jets was third, with another of Brown's, Whitebeam, fourth after getting shut out in a rail bid by In Italian.

Gina Romantica, a 4-year-old daughter of Into Mischief, won last year's Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Cup in her only previous start at Keeneland. She had made only two previous starts in 2023, finishing fourth in the Grade III Eatontown at Monmouth Park and second in the Grade I Beverly D. at Colonial Downs.

Up to the Mark edged Godolphin invader Master of the Seas by a nose in Saturday's $1 million Grade I Coolmore Turf Mile at Keeneland, earning a "Win and You're In" bid for the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile.

Up to the Mark, a 4-year-old Not This Time colt trained by Pletcher, got his third straight win, all Grade I affairs at distances of 1 1/8 and 1 1/4 miles as well as Saturday's mile.


Northern Invader stalked the pace in Friday's $135,000 Gio Ponti Stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct, moved to the lead rounding out of the clubhouse turn and ran on gamely to win by 1 length over Ohana Honor.

Northern Invader, a Collected colt trained by Cherie DeVaux, got his second win following a fifth in the Grade II Secretariat Stakes at Colonial Downs.

Turf Sprint

Eight horses crossed the wire in a bunch separated by less than 1 length in Sunday's $250,000 Grade II Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine with the photo showing the finish to be Big Invasion by a head over Lucky Score with Ice Chocolat another head back in third.

Big Invasion, a Declaration of War colt sent north from New York by Christophe Clement, was making his first stop in Canada and won his second-ever graded stake.

Arzak waited patiently behind the quick early leader in Saturday's $350,000 Grade II Woodford Stakes at Keeneland, blew by on the outside of that one and drew off to win by 2 lengths over Our Shot.

Beer Can Man was third and the pacesetter, British invader Live In The Dream, held on for third.

Arzak, a 5-year-old son of Not This Time, entered as a bit of a long shot in a relatively wide-open race. Live In the Dream already qualified for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint witn a victory in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in England.


Saturday's $200,000 Belmont Turf Sprint at Aqueduct was washed off the turf onto a very sloppy main track, which proved no impediment to the favorite, Today's Flavor.

The 5-year-old Leoban gelding led from the early stages and held off Thin White Duke at the end for a 1/2-length victory. The confirmed front-runner passed a class test, winning his first open stakes victory. Javier Castellano rode for trainer George Weaver.

Juvenile Turf

Can Group rallied from last of 12 to capture Sunday's $350,000 Grade II Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland by a nose over Noted, securing a "Win and You're In" spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

Can Group, trained by Mark Casse, backed up a maiden win at Kentucky Downs in his last start.

Endlessly chased down pacesetting Ngannou at the end of Sunday's $200,000 Zuma Beach Stakes at Santa Anita and drew off to win by 2 1/4 lengths over that one. Endlessly, an Oscar Performance colt from Mike McCarthy's barn, now is 3-for-3 with two stakes wins.

Agate Road came from next-last of eight to victory in Wednesday's $200,000 Grade II Pilgrim Stakes at Aqueduct, defeating Fulmineo by 1 1/4 lengths.


Juvenile Fillies Turf

Buchu swep around rivals in the stretch and kicked away confidently to win Friday's $350,000 Grade II Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, by 3 3/4 length over Pharoah's Wine. Crown Imperial was third in a wide-open race.

Buchu, a homebred filly by Rigney Racing, got 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1:42.48 with Martin Garcia up for trainer Phil Bauer, who said she is headed for Santa Anita.

Dreamfyre battled with Buttercream Babe through the whole mile of Sunday's $200,000 Grade III Surfer Girl Stakes at Santa Anita, finally getting the better of that one by a neck.

Dreamfyre, by Flameaway, improved to 3-for-3, also victorious in the Grade III Sorrento at Del Mar.

Dancing Duchess defeated a field including two colts in Sunday's $200,000 (Canadian) Algonquin Stakes at Woodbine, roaring from behind to finish 1/2 length in front of a dead-heat pair.

Dancing Duchess, a Munnings filly trained by Mark Casse, got her second win from six starts.

On Wednesday at Aqueduct, Hard to Justify won the "Win and You're In" $200,000 Grade II Miss Grillo Stakes by 1/2 length over Life's an Audible with the favorite, Gala Brand, fourth.


Juvenile Turf Sprint

Slider scored his second straight win in Saturday's $100,000 Speakeasy Stakes at Santa Anita. The Jimmy Creed colt led, was headed by Dark Vintage and came back to win by 1 1/4 lengths, running 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.96 seconds for jockey Hector Berrios.

Committee of One nosed out the favorite, Amidst Waves, in a three-horse photo in Sunday's $250,000 Indian Summer Stakes at Keeneland. Committee of One, a Mendelssohn colt trained by Steve Asmussen, had finished second in each of two previous starts.

Book'em Danno posted a thoroughly dominating victory in Sunday's $150,000 Futurity at Aqueduct. With Jose Ortiz up for trainer Derek Ryan, the Bucchero gelding awaited his cue, got it and exploded to an easy score.

It was his third straight win, following two on the main track at Monmouth Park. The Futurity came off the turf, but retained its status as a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In".

Sunday's $150,000 Matron suffered the same surface switch as the Futurity but Jody's Pride impressed anyway with a 3 1/4-lengths victory over Tricky Temper with Flavien Prat up for trainer Jorge Abreu.

Around the world, around the clock



Inspiral was the winner in Saturday's Group 1 Virgin Bet Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket and an impressive one at that. But her rider, Frankie Dettori, was the star of the show. Dettori rode Inspiral confidently to rack up his 500th win at Newmarket as his final year of competition draws down to its final months.

He took no chances in the Sun Chariot, guiding Inspiral to the inner rail inside the 3-furlongs marker and drawing off to win by a wide margin over Mqse De Sevigne.

The 4-year-old Frankel filly, trained by John and Thady Gosden for Cheveley Park Stud, backed up her last-out win in the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, coming good at just the right time.

"Newmarket's been my home for 38 years so it's great, no it's fantastic, to be able to do it in a Group 1 and on a special filly," Dettori said of the 500th local win. "I couldn't have written a better ending."


Gold Trip ran away with Saturday's Group1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington, swooping past the field to score by nearly 2 lengths in a race that points the way to the Cox Plate or the Caulfield Cup.


International visitors did well, with European West Wind Blows second and Hong Kong star Romantic Warrior fourth while coming off a long layoff and prompting a dietary crisis by refusing to eat Aussie feed (he eventually got an import from home).

Gold Trip last year was fifth in the Turnbull, second in the Caulfield Cup and ninth in the Cox Plate -- but then won the big prize, the Melbourne Cup.

Jockey Mark Zahra was high on Gold Trip's performance and firm in his opinion about his schedule.

"He's got to go to the Cox Plate, surely," Zahra said. "They were a few of his major rivals there and the way he won, why wouldn't you go there? If they've got any brains then they'll go to the Cox Plate [instead of the Caulfield Cup]. It'll all work out perfectly for everyone."

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