Breeders' Cup Roundup: Sept. 20, 2021

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

September 20th, 2021

Less than 50 days out from the Nov. 5-6 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, a bevy of qualifiers took place across North America.

Let’s get up to speed on last week’s news and notes with the latest edition of Breeders’ Cup Roundup:

Town Cruise upsets the Woodbine Mile

The Woodbine Mile (G1) at Woodbine has been a key stepping stone toward the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), producing four winners since 2011. Last week’s edition of the one-mile turf test saw Town Cruise earn a Win and You’re In berth to the Breeders’ Cup by sneaking away on an easy lead and springing a gate-to-wire upset.

Perfectly ridden by Daisuke Fukumoto, Town Cruise was quick out of the gate and soon secured an uncontested lead through splits of :24.08, :47.10, and 1:10.41, leaving him with plenty left in the tank to kick on and defeat Space Traveller and Raging Bull by 2 1/4 lengths. The speedy gelding has elevated his game to a new level this season, but connections reportedly will not point to the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Appleby, Godolphin enjoy banner week

Trainer Charlie Appleby and the powerful Godolphin stable enjoyed tremendous success in North America last weekend. To put it simply, they teamed up to win three of the six Win and You’re In qualifiers on the agenda.

Their first success came with Yibir, who qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) by dominating a quality renewal of Saturday’s 1 1/2-mile Jockey Club Derby at Belmont Park. With a sweeping last-to-first rally, the three-year-old gelding cruised home by 2 1/2 lengths, in the process securing his third stakes win of the season.

The following afternoon, Appleby saddled Godolphin colorbearers Wild Beauty and Albahr to produce similar late-charging victories in Woodbine’s Natalma S. (G1) and Summer S. (G1), respectively. Wild Beauty now looms among the early favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), while Albahr has earned a place in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) starting gate.

Appleby and Godolphin also teamed up to win Saturday’s Canadian International (G1) at Woodbine with Walton Street, who dominated by 5 3/4 lengths to establish his credentials as a possible Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) candidate.

Major General, Hidden Connection shine at Churchill Downs

Talented two-year-olds took center stage on Saturday at Churchill Downs in a pair of Breeders’ Cup qualifiers.

The main event of the day was the Iroquois S. (G3), a 1 1/16-mile stepping stone toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). The race also kicked off the 2021-22 Road to the Kentucky Derby, so it’s safe to say gutsy winner Major General earned a lot more than the winner’s share of a $300,000 purse.

Victory was far from assured for the son of Constitution. After rating in the middle of the pack early on, Major General rallied to lead in the stretch, but had to dig deep in the final furlong to stem off a late charge from longshot Tough to Tame. In the end, the wire came just in time for Major General, who held on to win by a neck in 1:44.88.

Major General’s determination was admirable, but the filly Hidden Connection arguably ran better when dominating the Pocahontas S. (G3) to earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) starting gate. After tracking slow fractions from second place, the daughter of Connect pounced to the lead and finished fast to dominate by 9 1/4 lengths in 1:43.78—a full 1.10 faster than Major General.

Winning the Pocahontas also secured Hidden Connection qualification points on the 2021-22 Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

Other high-profile stakes winners on the Churchill Downs Saturday card included Shedaresthedevil, a Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) candidate who forged to a narrow victory in the 1 1/16-mile Locust Grove S. (G3), and Sconsin, who turned back a bid from heavy favorite Bell’s the One to win the six-furlong Open Mind S. and stake her credentials for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).

Upcoming Win and You're In qualifiers

The upcoming week is relatively quiet on the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series front. At Newmarket in England, Friday’s seven-furlong Rockfel S. (G2) will award a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, while Saturday’s Royal Lodge S. (G2) offers up a spot in the gate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

The more significant action is arguably taking place stateside, even though Win and You’re In berths aren’t on the line. The Saturday card at Parx Racing includes the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and the $1 million Cotillion S. (G1), in which talented three-year-olds will seek to stamp their Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and Distaff qualifications.

Parx is also hosting the Gallant Bob S. (G2) and the Turf Monster S. (G3), respective stepping stones toward the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Throw in the one-mile Kelso H. (G2) at Belmont Park—a logical prep for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1)—and there’s actually a lot to look forward to this week.

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