Five Takeaways from October 10-11 Weekend

Profile Picture: James Scully

October 13th, 2015

Favorite Flops: The top two recorded the performance of their career, with Her Emmynency gamely withstanding the late bid of Miss Temple City, but the non-threatening third from Sentiero Italia was the biggest storyline from the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland. She looked brilliant capturing her two previous starts, earning comparisons to the sidelined Lady Eli with impressive wins in the Lake Placid (G2) and Sands Point (G2), and Sentiero Italia was attempting to establish herself as a serious contender for the Filly & Mare Turf (G1) until the bubble burst on Saturday.

Mott Trainee: Her performance came last Wednesday but Harmonize makes the list for an eye-catching victory at Keeneland, confirming her status as a top U.S. contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) in the Jessamine Co. (G3). By leading juvenile sire Scat Daddy, who also has Azar and Conquest Daddygo in the Juvenile Turf (G1) and Nickname in the Juvenile Fillies (G1), Harmonize displayed a level of professional that belies her inexperience. She showed plenty of speed in her first two appearances but wound up at the back of a 12-horse Jessamine field after a troubled start, overcoming an extremely wide trip to prove best by a neck. Harmonize provides Bill Mott with an excellent chance for his first 2-year-old score in a Breeders’ Cup race; the Hall of Fame trainer has compiled all nine of his Breeders’ Cup wins in more high-profile events, winning the Distaff (G1) five times and two previous editions of the Classic (G1) and Turf (G1).

Good-looking Curlin Colt: Trainer Steve Asmussen was high on Union Jackson entering Saturday’s 5th race at Keeneland, a 6-furlong maiden special weight, and the 3-year-old colt delivered a smashing 7 ¾-length victory to stamp himself as one to watch going forward. Union Jackson registered a respectable 96 BRIS Speed rating in his second lifetime start and is by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who is in the midst of a breakout season at stud and will be represented by Keen Ice (Classic), Exaggerator (Juvenile), Curalina (Distaff) and Stellar Wind (Distaff) in the Breeders’ Cup later this month.

Year Layoff: Artemis Agrotera established herself as a top contender for the 2014 Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), winning the Ballerina (G1) and Gallant Bloom (G2), but didn’t run her best race at Santa Anita for the second straight year, finishing seventh. The 4-year-old daughter of Roman Ruler made a belated return to the worktab in early September and following her sixth work back on Monday, trainer Michael Hushion announced he was pointing her to the Filly & Mare Sprint at Keeneland. "I think I can have her fit enough to run seven furlongs,” Hushion said. “As far as definite plans, we'll have to see how she is tomorrow morning, what's available transportation-wise, and so on. But she's very, very good." Odds are against any horse returning from a 12-month layoff in a Breeders’ Cup race, but there is precedent for the move at a shorter distance. In 1993, Gilded Time ran big in his first outing since capturing the Juvenile (G1) a year earlier, missing by only three-parts of a length when third in the Sprint (G1).

Gutting News: So sad to see the news Saturday about Rock Fall, who was euthanized after a breaking down following a workout at Keeneland; and Talco, who died from complications of arthroscopic surgery. Rock Fall was a star of the sprint division, winning eight straight in advance of the Breeders’ Cup. He displayed brilliance at times, posting a 3 ¾-length romp in the True North (G2) and a nine-length thrashing of a deep allowance field at Keeneland, and was as honest as they come, determinedly recording back-to-back narrow victories in the A.G. Vanderbilt (G1) and Vosburgh (G1). Talco developed into a top-class turf miler at age 4, capturing the Shoemaker Mile (G1) and Thunder Road and notching close seconds in the Del Mar H. (G2) and American (G3), and the French import had a bright future.