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HRN Original Blog:
Around the Oval with Melaina Phipps

Keeneland Breeders' Cup Challenge Races: Part 1

keeneland start
This year’s Keeneland fall meet, which opens today, October 7, and runs 17 days of racing until closing day on the 29th, will host 18 stakes, including 7 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. On opening day of this, the track’s seventy-fifth anniversary meet, the GIII Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes and the GI Darley Alcibiades Stakes will kick of the stakes-filled weekend.
 






Now, I’ve already attested to the fact that I’m no handicapper, but I check out my PPs before racing and I like to know where the favorites are coming from. I’m preparing to go to my second Breeders’ Cup, and the BC Challenge races particularly interest me this year. On that note, I thought I’d share my very light preview of Kenenland’s Win-and-You’re-In races with my HRN friends. I’ll be posting on all the Challenge races at Keeneland on the morning of, so check back on October 8, 9, and 13 as well.
 
Race 8, the GIII Phoenix Stakes, newly sponsored by the Stoll Keenon Ogden law firm, will pit seven contenders in the 3yo & up division at 6F over the Polytrak. The winner of this race will be ushered into the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint, running next month at Churchill Downs. Some familiar names are on the card, including favorites Aikenite and Hamazing Destiny, who met last in the GI Forego S. at Saratoga this summer, finishing 3rd and 4th, respectively. But Flashpoint, the youngest in the field at 3, who despite a 5th place finish, had both his wins this year at this distance, and will like give Aikenite, who has won at Keeneland at 7f, a solid run for the money.
 
 
Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix S.
October 07, $175,000, 3yo & up, 6F, Keeneland Race Course, 5:13 PM ET
 
ML
Post
Horse
Weight
Jockey
Trainer
8/5
   1
Flashpoint 3, c.
120
Cornelio Velasquez
Wesley Ward
20/1
   2
118
Gabriel Saez
Maynard Chatters
3/1
   3
118
Robby Albarado
D. Lukas
15/1
   4
Hoofit (NZ) 4, g.
18
Edgar Prado
H. Motion
5/1
   5
118
Garrett Gomez
John Sadler
5/2
    6
Aikenite 4, c.
122
John Velazquez
Todd Pletcher
10/1
   7
118
Julien Leparoux
Steve Margolis
 

 
Race 9 has attracted a deep field of 15 (1 AE) 2 yo fillies for the 1 1/16m GI $400K Darley Alcibiades Stakes run over Keeneland’s Polytrak. The girls are well matched with the morning line favorites Tu Endie Wei, And Why Not, New Wave, and Sweet Cat headlining the race. Tu Endi Wei comes down from Woodbine, undefeated in two starts but is extending her distance for this attempt. And Why Not, comes in off a 3rd finish in the GI Skipaway at Saratoga. New Wave’s last start was awarded with a 2nd in Saratoga’s P.G. Johnson stakes at the same distance, while Sweet Cat comes in straight off her maiden win at the Spa. The only filly with a win at 1 1/16m is the morning line 20-1 shot Heart of Destiny, who won a Maiden Special Weight at Saratoga last month. The competition for the Win-and-You’re-In-spot for this year’s Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race; truthfully I this I think this very well could be any filly’s race.
 
 
Darley Alcibiades S.
October 07, $400,000, 2yo, f, 1 1/16M, Keeneland Race Course, 5:45 PM ET
 
ML
Post
Horse
Weight
Jockey
Trainer
12/1
   1
118
Alan Garcia
Kenneth McPeek
8/1
   2
118
Kent Desormeaux
Garry Simms
20/1
   3
118
Jesus Castanon
William Helmbrecht
6/1
   4
118
James McAleney
Reade Baker
6/1
   5
Sweet Cat 2, f.
118
John Velazquez
Todd Pletcher
8/1
   6
Egg Drop 2, f.
118
Joseph Talamo
Mike Mitchell
12/1
   7
118
Corey Lanerie
Wayne Catalano
6/1
   8
New Wave 2, f.
118
Julien Leparoux
George Arnold, II
5/1
   9
118
Garrett Gomez
Michael Matz
8/1
   10
118
Juan Leyva
Milton Wolfson
20/1
   11
118
Edgar Prado
James Baker
15/1
   12
118
Jamie Theriot
W. Calhoun
50/1
   13
118
David Mello
Danny Turner
12/1
   14
118
Rajiv Maragh
James DiVito
20/1
   15
 AE
118
Joe Johnson
Gary Hartlage
 

Personally, I’m leaving it to destiny in both races: Hamazing Destiny, favorite in the 8th, and Heart of Destiny, longshot in the 9th. It has to be more than coincidence, doesn’t it? 

 

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Older Comments about Keeneland Breeders' Cup Challenge Races: Part 1...

It's Fall and there was a time when the sight of colored leaves, warm days and cool nights meant more than just great weather. It used to mean the best of the best were about to converge on Lexington to race for the privilege of competing for the big prize and, in gone by days, be considered the favorites for championship honors. Not any more Since polyturf, Keeneland has become the Chicago Cubs of race tracks - content with ivy covered limestone monuments to the past, nice weather, casual fans looking for an outing and G3 horses racing for G1 money. It makes me want to weep. Not to belabor the used to be argument, but this used to be Mecca for racing fans, sportsman and horseplayers. There was a time when admission was a minimum bet, parking anywhere was free and the best horses in the WORLD came here. I miss the Golden Rail. I miss not seeing the most brilliant horses show their brilliance. I miss smoking cigars indoors ( a bit of a nonsequitor for sure, but I thought I'd throw it in). There is the turf and I am thankful they ( insert complacent management here) haven't fiddled with that. G1 horses will still come to compete,though not the best of the best, but still G1's. Keeneland has become a horseman's benevolent and retirement society. How else can you explain $7500 claiming horses running for $15,000? Or aging horses on their last legs racing against others in the same predicament. It's not about the sport or for the racing fan. It's about money ( duh). There is no more romance.
  • MBPhipps · While I don't have the memories of Keeneland that you do (having come to racing relatively recently) I can appreciate how frustrating it is to have something you love change significantly. I think a lot of the romance that you mention was present when the sport was just that--a sport. Modern times have changed the sport to more of a business and yes, it becomes more about the money. Changes are not always for the better (or the "bettor" in this case"). That said, Keeneland is still beautiful, and undoubtedly some great horses will still make appearances there this fall. You have the memories of the good times long gone that you enjoyed there, but I have a feeling that there are still some good times to be had there. I hope you enjoy the meet! · 1169 days ago
I have more handicapping to do, but right now I am giving Stephanie's Kitten a long look at big odds.
Not too bad . . . Hamazing Destiny came in 3rd in the Phoenix, and Heart of Destiny 2nd in the Alcibiades!
i like Stephanie's kitten in the Al, but the Sprint is a crapshoot.
oops, forgot Flashpoint in Phoenix, still kinda like him, what the hay?

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Meet Melaina Phipps

I came to horseracing only about a decade ago. (And no, I am no relation to the celebrated racing family of the same name.) My equine interests prior to that began, as they do for most young girls, with riding lessons and horse shows, and ended up with me playing polo while a graduate student at UVA and thereafter. It was entirely unexpected that I should spend time on the backstretch at Saratoga in the summer and on the rail at Payson Park in Florida in the winter watching some of the best trainers and horses in the country work. But that’s where I found myself and where my interest in this wild ride of an industry took shape. I don’t exercise racehorses; I don’t work with a trainer.  I watch, I listen, I ask a lot of questions, and I learn.  I enjoy supporting equine charities. Sometimes I bet a little.

I leave the handicapping and serious race talk and examination to those more knowledgeable than I. What I’d like to share through Around the Oval are some of the myriad observations, stories, histories, events, charities, places, and personalities that make up the variegated landscape of the Thoroughbred racing industry. If you find any—or all—of it interesting, please leave comments. Have any particular interests you’d like to read about? Send word—suggestions are more than welcome!