Breeders' Cup Roundup: July 19, 2021
A disqualification in the Haskell, the return of a Breeders’ Cup winner, the exit of two key Classic contenders -- there’s never a dull week on the road to the Nov. 5-6 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar.
Let’s catch up on the news and notes from a busy weekend:
Mandaloun joins Classic field with Haskell success
The $1 million Haskell S. (G1) at Monmouth Park was billed as a showdown between Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Mandaloun, Preakness S. (G1) runner-up Midnight Bourbon, and Belmont S. (G1) runner-up Hot Rod Charlie. But the ultimate outcome wasn’t quite what bettors anticipated.
The 1 1/8-mile race was unfolding as expected at the top of the stretch, with the three Triple Crown veterans lined up across the track and battling for victory. But just when it appeared Hot Rod Charlie had the winning momentum, he drifted in a couple of paths, causing Midnight Bourbon to clip heels and lose his rider.
Hot Rod Charlie continued on gamely to edge the ground-saving Mandaloun by a nose, but the unofficial winner was subsequently disqualified and placed last, giving Mandaloun the victory and a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Mandaloun now has a chance to become the fourth Haskell/Classic winner since 2014, joining the likes of Bayern, American Pharoah, and Authentic.
Both Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon emerged from their collision relatively unscathed, as did jockey Paco Lopez, the rider of Midnight Bourbon. Plans for the two colts are still to be determined.
Golden Pal stamps Turf Sprint credentials with Saratoga comeback
Opening day at Saratoga saw a Breeders’ Cup winner in action as three-year-old Golden Pal contested the Quick Call S. (G3), his first start since winning last year’s Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) in front-running fashion.
Any concerns about Golden Pal showing rust off the long layoff were quickly dispelled when the Wesley Ward trainee broke on top and carved out splits of :21.92, :44.88, and :56.54 on his way to a three-length victory. The son of Uncle Mo completed the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint in 1:02.99 over a good course and has to be considered an early favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).
Althiqa, Tribhuvan post Grade 1 wins
The most important race on opening weekend at Saratoga was the Diana S. (G1), a 1 1/8-mile turf test for fillies and mares. Godolphin stablemates Althiqa and Summer Romance were popular in the betting after running one-two in the Just a Game S. (G1) at Belmont Park, and they promptly ran one-two again in the Diana, with Althiqa kicking on strongly down the lane to catch her pacesetting companion by three-quarters of a length.
Althiqa reached the finish line in a solid 1:47.65 over a good course, showing no signs of stamina limitations while stretching out beyond one mile for only the second time in her career. Both Althiqa and Summer Romance are slated to return to England this week, after which trainer Charlie Appleby will presumably map out plans for the remainder of the season. Whether these plans include trips to the Breeders’ Cup is unclear, though Althiqa would be an intriguing player for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) if she makes the journey to Del Mar.
Another noteworthy performance over the weekend came from Tribhuvan in the United Nations S. (G1) at Monmouth Park. A bold front-runner exiting a win in the 1 1/8-mile Fort Marcy S. (G2) and a runner-up effort in the 1 1/4-mile Manhattan S. (G1), Tribhuvan had no trouble stretching his speed over 1 3/8 miles in the United Nations.
Indeed, under a brilliant ride from Flavien Prat, Tribhuvan was able to shake loose on a daylight lead through pedestrians splits of :24.01, :49.32, and 1:15.47 over a firm turf course. When the real running began, Tribhuvan had plenty left in the tank, dashing home in :23.36 and :11.96 to beat his pursuers by two lengths in 2:15.48. Could the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) be Tribhuvan’s long-term target?
Mystic Guide, Rombauer exit the Classic picture
Unfortunately, a couple of major names dropped out of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) scene last week. Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Mystic Guide exited his runner-up effort in the Suburban S. (G2) with a knee chip that will require surgery, and it’s unclear at this point whether the son of Ghostzapper will retire or return to racing in 2022.
Also out of the Breeders’ Cup picture is Preakness S. (G1) hero Rombauer, who failed to train satisfactorily since finishing third in the Belmont S. (G1). According to Daily Racing Form, Rombauer will be given time off with an eye toward returning to action in 2022.
Upcoming “Win and You’re In” qualifiers
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series will take a trip to England this week for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S. (G1) on Saturday at Ascot. The prestigious 1 1/2-mile event awards a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
As of Monday, nine horses remain under consideration for the King George, including the sensational five-time Group 1-winning filly Love and the versatile Saudi Cup hero Mishriff. Runaway Epsom Derby (G1) winner Adayar is also in the mix, stamping the King George as one of the strongest races taking place in Europe this summer.
Stay tuned to TwinSpires Edge for more coverage and analysis as the road to the Breeders’ Cup continues!