Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
It appears that each of the quartet of stakes races featured on Saturday night’s “Downs After Dark” racing program at Churchill Downs could have an impact on the fields for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita on Nov. 1-2.
The most obvious are the winners of the night’s pair of races for 2-year-olds: the $150,000-added Pocahontas (GII) for fillies and the $150,000-added Iroquois (GIII) for males. Both of the 1 1/16-mile races, which had previously been run during Churchill Downs’ Fall Meet, were races in the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series.
Both Steve Asmussen, who saddled Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Untapable to win the Pocahontas, and Dale Romans, trainer of Donegal Racing’s Iroquois winner Cleburne, said after their races that they planned to take their winners to the Breeders’ Cup. Both winners will receive a travel stipend of $10,000 for their respective trips to Southern California.
Romans said he hopes that Iroquois runner-up Smart Cover would be able to compete in the Juvenile.
Trainer Kelly Breen could send two horses to the Breeders’ Cup following strong efforts in Saturday night races at Churchill Downs.
George and Lori Hall’s Pants On Fire could be headed to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) after notching his second consecutive stakes victory in the Ack Ack Handicap (GIII). Pants On Fire, who finished ninth in the 2011 Kentucky Derby in his only previous race at Churchill Downs, won the one-mile Ack Ack in a stakes record time of 1:33.78 that narrowly missed the track record of 1:33.31 for the one-turn mile distance.
Breen said the Halls are also looking an invitation to run their colt in Japan to end his 5-year-old season.
A Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies bid will be considered for Stoneway Farm’s Stonetastic, the runner-up in the Pocahontas who finished a half-length behind the victorious Untapable. Stonetastic won a Monmouth Park maiden race by 12 1/2 lengths in her only previous race.
“She’s a game horse and that’s the most tired I’ve ever seen her,” Breen said. “It’s a shame to run that hard and get beat, but she’s a nice filly.”
Flashy American won the $100,000-added Locust Grove and trainer Ken McPeek said afterward that Preston Stable LLC’s 4-year-old daughter of Flashy Bull was being considered for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI).
McPeek’s filly ran in five maiden claiming races in 2012 before she final scored her first victory in a $25,000 maiden claiming race at Saratoga. Since then she has won six of 11 races, a run that include stakes victories in the Locust Grove, the Alada at Saratoga and the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows. She has won four of her last five starts, with the only blemish being a runner-up finish to Authenticity in the Shuvee (GIII) at Saratoga.
“She just keeps getting better and better,” McPeek said. “Thank goodness they didn’t claim her off me.”
McPeek is considering Santa Anita’s $250,000 Zenyatta (GI) on Sept. 28 as a possible Distaff prep for the Kentucky-bred Flashy American, who has now won seven of 22 starts and $392,129.