Breeders' Cup roundup: June 21, 2021
Action heats up on the Classic and Distaff trails
First and foremost is the Stephen Foster S. (G2) at Churchill Downs, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Classic. The main name to know is Maxfield, the once-beaten Grade 1 winner, fresh off a runaway romp in Churchill’s Alysheba S. (G2). The Godolphin homebred is widely expected to claim victory over a compact field, with Ben Ali S. (G3) winner Silver Dust and two-time Grade 3 winner Warrior’s Charge among the expected starters.
Churchill will also host the Fleur de Lis S. (G2) for fillies and mares, which awards the winner a berth to the Distaff. A small but elite field is expected to enter the starting gate, led by Apple Blossom H. (G1) and Ogden Phipps S. (G1) winner Letruska, a frontrunner for division leadership. Last year’s Falls City S. (G2) winner Envoutante, five-time Grade 1-placed Point of Honor, and Allaire du Pont Distaff (G3) winner Spice Is Nice add further depth to the prospective field.
Those are the star older horses slated to race this week, but three-year-olds will also take stage in a pair of notable graded stakes.
The 1 1/8-mile Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown is expected to assemble a promising group, including Lexington S. (G3) winner King Fury and Peter Pan S. (G3) victor Promise Keeper. At least one Ohio Derby veteran has started in the last three editions of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, so you definitely want to check out Thistledown’s signature race.
Belmont Park’s 1 1/16-mile Mother Goose S. (G2) for sophomore fillies is expected to draw the undefeated Always Carina, Rachel Alexandra S. (G2) winner Clairiere, and Forward Gal S. (G3) victress Zaajel. The winner is bound to take aim at races like the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Alabama S. (G1) at Saratoga this summer, with the Breeders’ Cup Distaff a long-term goal.
Royal Ascot lights up the international scene
The prestigious Royal Ascot meet in England took place from June 15-19, with four Breeders’ Cup Challenge races among the highlights for North American racing fans.
Key winners included:
- Palace Pier, who cemented his status as the world’s leading miler with a confident victory in the Queen Anne S. (G1) on opening day. The victory earned the once-beaten star a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
- Love, the sensational filly who kicked off her four-year-old campaign with a frontrunning score in the 1 1/4-mile Prince of Wales’s S. (G1). Love’s tenacious victory over reigning Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) winner Audarya secured the Aidan O’Brien trainee a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
- Perfect Power, who produced a perfectly timed rally to win the five-furlong Norfolk S. (G2) by a head and lock up a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).
- Dream of Dreams, the seven-year-old veteran who rallied to win the six-furlong Diamond Jubilee S. (G1) and join the potential field for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).
Another winner of note was the American filly Campanelle, who won the six-furlong Commonwealth Cup (G1) via disqualification. The Wesley Ward trainee ran huge in her sophomore debut and boasts a four-for-five résumé, highlighted by two Group 1 wins.
Her lone defeat came when she stretched out over one mile in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) last fall, so expect to see Campanelle stick to sprinting this season. The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint looms as a possible target.
Upcoming “Win and You’re In” qualifiers
The last weekend in June sustains the international flair to the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
Two of the four upcoming qualifiers will take place abroad, with the schedule shaping up as follows:
- June 26, Gran Premio Pamplona (G1): Held over the turf course at Hipódromo de Monterrico in Peru, this 1 1/4-mile test for fillies and mares awards a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
- June 26, Fleur de Lis S. (G2): Fillies and mares will race 1 1/8 miles over the Churchill Downs main track in this qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
- June 26, Stephen Foster S. (G2): Churchill Downs’ signature spring prize for older horses takes place over 1 1/8 miles and serves as a steppingstone toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
- June 27, Takarazuka Kinen (G1): Some of Japan’s best middle-distance runners will face off in the 1 3/8-mile test over the turf course at Hanshin, with a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf on the line.
Enjoy the racing!