Contentious fields bolster exciting Breeders' Cup Friday
Breeders’ Cup Friday features one of the biggest races of the World Championships, the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), which will likely determine both the champion older female and champion three-year-old filly.
Before the main event, though, turf juveniles will line up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and the Juvenile Turf (G1), and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) is sandwiched between those two.
First up, the Juvenile Fillies Turf boasts a full field of 14 plus a pair of also-eligibles. The one-mile grass affair is laden with international runners who have made the long flight from overseas to show their mettle, including Happily and September.
That particular duo is from the barn of trainer Aidan O’Brien and bring their jockeys along for the ride Friday. Happily exits a pair of Group 1 scores in Ireland and France while listed heroine September just missed by a nose last out in the Fillies’ Mile (Eng-G1) in England.
Rushing Fall is the 7-2 morning line favorite for the Juvenile Fillies Turf thanks in part to a perfect two-for-two career mark. The Chad Brown trainee broke her maiden at first asking on September 16 at Belmont Park and returned October 11 at Keeneland to take the Jessamine Stakes (G3).
Other contenders in the race include Capla Temptress, winner of the Natalma Stakes (Can-G1) at Woodbine on September 17, and Miss Grillo Stakes (G3) heroine Significant Form.
The Dirt Mile attracted a sharp group of runners, as evidenced by the presence of Sharp Azteca. The multiple Grade 2 scorer is riding a two-race win streak comprised of a 7 1/2-length victory in the Monmouth Cup (G3) and a four-length wire job in the Kelso Handicap (G2).
Multiple Grade 1 winner Mor Spirit also boasts a wining skein, including the Met Mile (G1) last out on June 10. That score earned the Bob Baffert trainee a career-best 114 BRIS Speed rating, and probably helped the Eskendereya ridgling be named the 3-1 morning-line choice for the Dirt Mile.
Also in with a big chance is Cupid, who bypassed the Breeders’ Cup Classic in favor of this spot. Hero of the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1) in late May, the gray colt added the one-mile Harry F. Brubaker Stakes to his resume just one race late in his first start under 1 1/16 miles since January 2016.
Accelerate, who easily wired the San Diego Handicap (G3) two back over Arrogate, and H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) victor Practical Joke are also entered.
Like the Juvenile Fillies Turf, the Juvenile Turf attracted a full field of 14 plus two also-eligibles. Its roster is also dominated by international runners, including Group 1-placed winners Masar, Beckford and Mendelssohn.
Among the domestic hopefuls, Untamed Domain and Catholic Boy are the biggest draws. The former scored a neck victory in the Summer Stakes (Can-G2) while the latter is unbeaten in two starts including the With Anticipation Stakes (G3).
Wrapping up the Breeders’ Cup action on Friday is the 1 1/8-mile Distaff, which drew a competitive group of eight fillies and mares.
Among the older runners vying for an Eclipse Award as champion older female are Stellar Wind and Forever Unbridled. The pair enter the Distaff off Grade 1 wins in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes and Personal Ensign Stakes, respectively.
Abel Tasman, Elate and Paradise Woods square off for the honor of being named champion three-year-old filly. Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine Abel Tasman finished second in the Cotillion Stakes (G1) last out, while Elate brings a pair of romping wins in the Alabama Stakes (G1) and Beldame Invitational (G1) into this spot. Paradise Woods returned to form last out with a 5 1/4-length wire job in the Zenyatta Stakes (G1).