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Breeders' Cup 2017

Baker's Dozen Set for Acorn

Saturday’s 80th running of the $300,000 Betfair TVG Acorn has drawn a full field of 13 sophomore fillies, all seeking Grade 1 glory in the mile-long first jewel of the Betfair TVG Triple Tiara, which also includes the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade 1 Alabama, both run at Saratoga Race Course later in the summer.


Heading the field in the Acorn is Westrock Stables’ Tidal Pool, third in both the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on May 14 and the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on April 30.


The most experienced filly in the field with 12 starts to her name, Tidal Pool will run back to the distance of her best performance, an eight-length allowance win at Oaklawn Park on February 18, for which she earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.


The morning-line favorite at 4-1, Tidal Pool will have the services of Rajiv Maragh from post 10.


Among Tidal Pool’s challengers is Amen Hallelujah, runaway winner of the Grade 2 Davona Dale on February 27 in her first start on dirt. She has run twice since, notching a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss on March 20 and putting forth a sixth-place effort in the Kentucky Oaks, both at 1 1/8th miles.


“I think the mile and an eighth is just a little beyond her reach,” said Michael Iavarone, president and director of IAEH Stables, which owns the daughter of Montbrook in partnership with Whizway Farm and Robert Teel. “All things considered, I thought she ran well in the Bonnie Miss and we thought she deserved another shot at the distance. In the Oaks, we changed strategy on her a little bit and tried to get her to rate more off the pace, which kind of backfired. She was rank early and took a lot of dirt in her face.


“With two mile-and-an-eighth races, she has the foundation to turn back to a one-turn mile and as long as she breaks well, I think she’ll be very tough to run down.”


Trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., Amen Hallelujah will break from post position 6 with New York’s leading rider, Ramon Dominguez, in the irons.


Also coming out of the Kentucky Oaks is Mark Stanley’s Quiet Temper. Though a disappointing eighth in that race, she was a determined half-length victor in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks two starts back and looks to return to winning form in the Acorn.


“We never did come up with a good excuse for the Oaks, but we didn’t come up with a really good one when she was fifth in the Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds either,” trainer Dale Romans said in reference to the filly’s only two off-the-board finishes from nine starts. “I think she’ll like that one-turn mile; she shipped well and has been training well here. She’s won a Grade 2 and a Grade 3, and we wanted to give her another shot in a Grade 1.”

In her only previous start at Belmont Park, a one-mile maiden race on October 4, Quiet Temper was second to Ailalea, who won the Grade 3 Tempted in her next start.


California invader Crisp, seventh in the Kentucky Oaks following a game win in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on March 6, will try to pick up her second Grade 1 victory on Saturday.


Prior to the Oaks, which was her first start on dirt, the John Sadler trainee had never finished worse than fourth in five starts over the artificial surfaces at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita. Crisp will break from the far outside with Calvin Borel.


Shipping in from Florida is Denholtz Stables’ Dances With Ashley, a winner of four races from five starts over three different surfaces. The daughter of Wildcat Heir broke her maiden over the Calder turf course at first asking on November 7, won her next start over the main track there a month later, and also won the OBS Sprint Stakes for Florida-bred fillies over the artificial surface at Ocala Training Center on February 15.


A four-length winner in her most recent outing, the Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on April 3, Dances With Ashley has faltered only in a sloppy edition of the Grade 3 Old Hat at Gulfstream on January 9, finishing ninth.


“She hated the slop and the temperature dropped to 29 degrees that day in Miami,” said trainer Marty Wolfson. “I’ve never had a young horse do what she’s done though, winning four starts at four different tracks over different surfaces. Nothing fazes her. Tampa is not an easy track to win on if you don’t train on it and she was seven or eight lengths back that day.”  


Though she has never run farther than seven furlongs, Wolfson expects Dances With Ashley will get the mile distance of the Acorn.


Stepping up in Saturday’s race is a trio of New York-based fillies: Phipps Stable’s Streaker and AJ Suit Racing’s Much Rejoicing both undefeated, as well as Crossed Sabres Farm’s consistent color-bearer Indian Burn.


Streaker was an easy winner in a one-mile optional claiming event at Belmont on May 6 on the heels of maiden and allowance victories at Gulfstream Park earlier this year.


“She’s drawn the rail in all three of her races,” said her Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. “Drawing a little further out, maybe she can stalk a little bit.”


Javier Castellano, aboard for Streaker’s most recent win, has the call from post 5.


Trainer James Toner said he had been pointing Much Rejoicing toward the Acorn since a 3 ½-length allowance score at Keeneland on April 3, her second start and win since breaking her maiden at Gulfstream Park on Valentine’s Day.

“I didn’t want to run her back in Kentucky or Maryland and this race fit into a good time frame,” said Toner. “The mile coming off seven and a half furlongs seems suitable and she’s a very athletic, quality filly – inexperienced, but sometimes quality overcomes that.”  


Indian Burn exits a fourth-place effort in the Grade 3 Comely at Aqueduct on April 10. She has never been worse than fourth in six lifetime starts for trainer John Hertler.


Completing the field in the Acorn are Buckleupbuttercup, exiting a runaway win in the Grade 3 Eight Belles; Champagne d’Oro, 11th in the Kentucky Oaks, but a close second to Quiet Temper in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks two back; Seeking the Title, who did not finish the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan after unseating her rider early in the race; Tanda, winner of a pair of Grade 3 sprint stakes in California in her most recent starts; and allowance winner Hot Trip.


The field for the 80th running of the Grade 1 Betfair TVG Acorn:








Hot Trip (FL)

E Coa


D Giglio, Jr.



Tanda (FL)

A O Solis


D L Hendricks



Dances With Ashley (FL)

J R Velazquez


M D Wolfson



Seeking the Title (KY)

K J Desormeaux


D Stewart



Streaker (KY)

J Castellano


C R McGaughey III



Amen Hallelujah (FL)

R A Dominguez


R E Dutrow, Jr.



Quiet Temper (KY)

G K Gomez


D L Romans



Much Rejoicing (KY)

A Garcia


J J Toner



Buckleupbuttercup (KY)

J Lezcano


E Kenneally



Tidal Pool (KY)

R Maragh


D W Lukas



Indian Burn (KY)

C H Velasquez


J O Hertler



Champagne d'Oro (KY)

M Garcia


E J Guillot



Crisp (KY)

C H Borel


J W Sadler







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