Breeders' Cup roundup: July 26, 2021

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July 26th, 2021

What’s that? You’re a little behind in processing the latest developments on the road to Nov. 5-6 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar?

Never fear! We’ve got you covered with a roundup of the latest news and notes.

Adayar continues his ascent

Any doubts about the authenticity of Adayar’s 4 1/2-length upset in the Epsom Derby (G1) were erased by his stellar victory against a sensational field in Saturday’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. (G1) at Ascot.

Against a small but elite group of older rivals, Adayar employed pace-tracking tactics for most of the 1 1/2-mile journey, then took command with more than a quarter mile remaining. Saudi Cup winner Mishriff and Prince of Wales S. (G1) heroine Love tried to challenge in the stretch, but Adayar was unwavering on the front end and turned back his talented challengers to score by 1 3/4 lengths.

A Godolphin homebred trained by Charlie Appleby, Adayar combines tactical speed with stamina in a formidable package. 

With the win, the son of Frankel secured a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), though a run in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) — arguably Europe’s most coveted race — might be a more likely autumn goal.

Country Grammer sidelined with ankle issue

The Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) scene has taken a few major hits in recent weeks, starting with the defections of Mystic Guide and Rombauer. The latest name heading to the sideline is Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) winner Country Grammer.

The improving four-year-old was supposed to run in the Whitney S. (G1) at Saratoga, but according to David Grening of the Daily Racing Form, he’ll miss the race with an ankle issue that will require rest at WinStar Farm. It is unclear how much training time the son of Tonalist will lose, so it’s possible the Classic could still be in the cards, if Country Grammer bounces back quickly.

The setback prompted trainer Todd Pletcher to mention January’s Pegasus World Cup (G1) as an eventual target for Country Grammer, so at this point, a start in the Classic seems like a longshot.

First Captain stretches out in Curlin S.

Undefeated Dwyer S. (G3) winner First Captain will take another step toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic when he starts in the Curlin S. on Friday at Saratoga. The 1 1/8-mile race for three-year-olds will mark First Captain’s first start around two turns, which is an exciting development, because he is bred top and bottom to thrive running long.

The Shug McGaughey trainee will face a small but capable field in the Curlin, with Wood Memorial (G2) runner-up Dynamic One and three-time stakes winner Beren among the entries.

The race figures to provide another solid test of First Captain’s talents, with the important Travers S. (G1) at Saratoga the next logical target.

Upcoming “Win and You’re In” qualifiers

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series will remain in Europe midweek, before a trip to Del Mar for a pair of weekend qualifiers.

  • July 28, Sussex S. (G1) at Goodwood: This prestigious qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) has drawn a deep field, which includes last year’s first- and third-place finishers in the Mile, Order of Australia and Lope Y Fernandez, plus 2000 Guineas (G1) winner Poetic Flare, Falmouth S. (G1) heroine Snow Lantern, and Coronation S. (G1) winner Alcohol Free.
  • July 31, Bing Crosby S. (G1) at Del Mar: Local sprinters will get a chance to test the track and distance of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) when they line up to contest this six-furlong “Win and You’re In” qualifier. Last year’s Sprint runner-up, C Z Rocket, could face Churchill Downs S. (G1) winner Flagstaff and defending Bing Crosby winner Collusion Illusion in a competitive test of speed and class.
  • Aug. 1, Clement L. Hirsch S. (G1) at Del Mar: Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) contenders will battle over 1 1/16 miles in Del Mar’s signature race for fillies and mares. 2020 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Shedaresthedevil is slated to make the trip west for a run over the Breeders’ Cup surface, where she’ll face Santa Maria S. (G2) winner As Time Goes By.

The Saturday slate at Saratoga includes the Jim Dandy S. (G2) and the Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1). The Jim Dandy, a 1 1/8-mile event for three-year-olds, is expected to draw champion and Belmont S. (G1) winner Essential Quality, as he continues his preparations for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Vanderbilt will feature defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore.

Stay tuned to TwinSpires Edge for more coverage and analysis as the road to the Breeders’ Cup continues!