Breeders' Cup roundup: Oct. 18, 2021
Let’s recap the final round of Breeders’ Cup qualification action.
California Angel wins final U.S. Breeders’ Cup qualifier
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series wrapped up domestically Wednesday, with Keeneland’s Jessamine S. (G2), an important steppingstone toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
Thirteen two-year-old fillies faced the starter for the 1 1/16-mile turf test, and the results were not as bettors anticipated. Turnerloose was favored, off a victory in the Juvenile Fillies S. at Kentucky Downs, but the 4-5 betting choice carved out fractions of :23.59, :47.73, and 1:13.31 and crossed the wire third in a three-horse photo finish.
It was 17-1 longshot California Angel who launched a furious rally to win. She surged from 12th place, gained 4 3/4 lengths in the final furlong, and won by a head, over 9-1 shot Diamond Wow, who edged Turnerloose by a neck.
Both California Angel and Diamond Wow are under consideration for the Breeders’ Cup, and California Angel would be the first Breeders’ Cup starter for George Leonard, whose training career began in 1991.
Two races on British Champions Day at Ascot were last-minute additions to the Challenge Series, the Champion S. (G1) and Queen Elizabeth II S. (G1). At this writing, Champion winner Sealiway is not expected at Del Mar, and Queen Elizabeth II winner Baaeed will not run again this season.
Shantisara, Mutamakina, Avie’s Flatter shine on turf
Although they weren’t official Breeders’ Cup qualifiers, a trio of important turf races held last weekend could toss up a few Breeders’ Cup starters.
- First up was the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland, a 1 1/8-mile event that featured a deep field of three-year-old fillies. Over a yielding turf course, Jockey Club Oaks winner Shantisara was tons the best, as she burst clear to score by five lengths. The Chad Brown trainee has won three straight stakes and looks like a star in the making.
- At Woodbine, Mutamakina was the star of the show in the E. P. Taylor S. (G1). After she tracked remarkably slow splits of :27.26, :54.46, and 1:20.84, over a yielding course, Mutamakina forged to the front and held off stablemate La Dragontea to win the 1 1/4-mile race by a neck. Christophe Clement trains the top two finishers.
- Woodbine also hosted the Nearctic S. (G2), a six-furlong sprint where Avie’s Flatter sprung a surprise victory. After a ninth-place finish in the Woodbine Mile (G1), the Josie Carroll trainee relished the cut back in distance. He settled in fourth place and rallied steadily to win by a half-length.
Early Breeders’ Cup past performances now available
Stay tuned to TwinSpires Edge for more coverage and analysis as the road to the Breeders’ Cup continues!