Breeders' Cup Roundup: Aug. 15, 2022
Time flies when you’re having fun. We’re more than halfway through summer, and the 2022 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland is less than three months away, which means it’s time to resume our annual Breeders’ Cup Roundup series.
Let’s kick things off by recapping an important series of turf races on the road to the Breeders’ Cup before looking ahead to next week’s similarly exciting slate:
Casa Creed, Inspiral qualify to the Mile
Stateside, the star of the show was Casa Creed, who picked up the third Grade 1 win of his career when rallying to an upset triumph in the Fourstardave H. (G1) at Saratoga. The red-hot mare Regal Glory was favored at 7-10 off a flashy victory in the Just a Game S. (G1) against fellow fillies and mares, but Casa Creed’s stretch kick was too strong to deny, and the Bill Mott trainee swept to the front in the final furlong to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
Previously victorious in two renewals of the six-furlong Jaipur S. (G1), Casa Creed showed a new dimension winning at the Grade 1 level racing one mile. His last-to-first rally was especially impressive when you consider how the Fourstardave unfolded at a steadily quickening pace with quarter-mile fractions of :24.01, :23.93, :23.30, and :22.96, good for a final time of 1:34.20.
Casa Creed’s versatility affords his connections with a couple of Breeders’ Cup options. They could accept Casa Creed’s berth to the Mile, or they could shorten up to five furlongs for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Either option could be a viable goal for the six-year-old son of Jimmy Creed.
The following day in France, the three-year-old filly Inspiral found good fortune taking on males in the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois (G1) at Deauville. Winner of the Coronation S. (G1) at Royal Ascot back in June, Inspiral rebounded from a surprise defeat in the Falmouth S. (G1) against fillies and mares to make her first foray against males a winning one.
Inspiral’s victory didn’t come easily, as she had to dig deep down the homestretch to turn back a challenge from longshot Light Infantry. But the John and Thady Gosden trainee proved resilient and prevailed by a neck in 1:34.07, reiterating her status as a high-class turf miler. However, RacingPost.com has reported the Breeders’ Cup is an unlikely target for Inspiral this year, with the Queen Elizabeth II S. (G1) at Ascot taking precedence.
Dalika stamps Filly & Mare Turf credentials
Also on the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series agenda was the Beverly D. S. (G1) at Churchill Downs, a 1 1/8-mile “Win and You’re In” qualifier to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). A field of five faced the started over a fast-playing turf course in use for the first time since early June, and Dalika capitalized on the conditions to spring a 7-1 surprise as the longest shot in the field.
Dalika benefited from a perfect ride by Brian Hernandez, who sent the six-year-old mare straight to the lead through fractions of :23.14, :46.44, and 1:10.13. The pace-tracking Princess Grace drew alongside at the eighth pole, but Dalika had something left in the tank and fought back to win by half a length in 1:46.31, breaking the course record.
Dalika has long been a capable competitor against good company, and 22 of her last 23 starts have come against stakes competition. But the Beverly D. marked a step forward off her previous form, placing the German-bred mare in the Breeders’ Cup conversation.
Santin picks up second Grade 1 win
The Beverly D. wasn’t the only Grade 1 race taking place at Churchill Downs last weekend. The 1 1/8-mile Arlington Million (G1) featured a field of 10 led by 2021 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) runner-up Smooth Like Strait, who entered off six consecutive second- and third-place finishes at the Grade 1 and Grade 2 level.
Smooth Like Strait tried his best to reverse his losing skid, emulating Dalika by sprinting to the lead through fractions of :23.85, :47.43, and 1:10.64. But 1 1/8 miles has always pushed the limits of Smooth Like Strait’s stamina, and down the homestretch it was the pace-tracking Santin who finished fast to win by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:46.88.
Santin has quietly compiled an accomplished resume for trainer Brendan Walsh, including a victory in the 2022 Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) over the same course and distance as the Arlington Million. Unfortunately for Santin, he shines over 1 1/8 miles, and cutting back to one mile for the Breeders’ Cup Mile may be his only viable option for participating in racing’s year-end championship.
Upcoming Win and You’re In qualifiers
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series heads abroad this week for a quartet of qualifiers in Europe. Here’s how the schedule is shaping up:
- Aug. 17: Juddmonte International (G1) at York: The undefeated Baaeed has won nine straight races (including five Group 1 prizes), but all of those runs have come over one mile. He’ll attempt to stretch out over 1 5/16 miles in this “Win and You’re In” qualifier to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), with defending Juddmonte International winner Mishriff looming as his main opposition.
- Aug. 18: Yorkshire Oaks (G1) at York: The field for this 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) qualifier hasn’t yet been finalized, but early betting favors the red-hot Alpinista, whose six-race win streak includes four consecutive Group 1 prizes. She kicked off 2022 with a win against males in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1) and should be tough to beat if she brings her A-game. Irish Oaks (G1) winner Magical Lagoon and Cazoo Oaks (G1) winner Tuesday are other possible entrants.
- Aug. 19: Nunthorpe S. (G1) at York: Royal Acclaim is undefeated in three starts, including a comfortable score in the Jon Smith’s City Walls S. over this course and five-furlong distance last month, stamping the up-and-coming sophomore filly as a key contender to win this Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) steppingstone.
- Aug. 21: Prix Morny (G1) at Deauville: The field for this Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) qualifier is still in flux, although recent Phoenix S. (G1) runner-up Persian Force and Prix de Cabourg (G3) winner The Antarctic are among the possible starters.
Stay tuned to TwinSpires Edge for more coverage and analysis as the road to the Breeders’ Cup continues.