Breeders' Cup glance: Baffert loaded for Santa Anita stakes

Breeders' Cup glance: Baffert loaded for Santa Anita stakes
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

As the 2020 Breeders’ Cup approaches, “Win and You’re In” berths are up for grabs ahead of the Nov. 6-7 championships at Keeneland. This weekly series from Horse Racing Nation highlights upcoming Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races, recaps recent stakes and shows how the fields for each division are shaping up.

Eleven Breeders' Cup Challenge Series races are on tap this weekend, including seven at Santa Anita. Trainer Bob Baffert has likely favorites in four of those events, including multiple Grade 1 winners Improbable and Maximum Security in the Awesome Again Stakes.

Upcoming Challenge Series races

Rockfel Stakes, Newmarket, Friday, Juvenile Fillies Turf

Isabella Giles, winner of the Group 3 Prestige Stakes on Aug. 29 at Goodwood, aims for another seven-furlong stakes score Friday in the Rockfel (G2). Clive Cox trains the filly, who will face a quartet of fellow 2-year-olds.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien has saddled 12 Breeders’ Cup winners, but never in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. His Kentucky-bred filly Monday will try to earn a fees-paid berth in that event by taking the Rockfel.

Royal Lodge Stakes, Newmarket, Saturday, Juvenile Turf

O’Brien will send Ontario postward for the one-mile Royal Lodge (G2), which, like the Rockfel, drew a field of five freshmen. The Galileo colt was third Aug. 22 at the Curragh in the Futurity Stakes (G2).

The Royal Lodge’s most notable recent winner was Frankel. The 2010 edition of the race marked the stakes debut for a runner who went on to finish his career 14-for-14.

Speakeasy Stakes, Santa Anita, Saturday, Juvenile Turf Sprint

Nine 2-year-old runners are entered for the $100,000 Speakeasy Stakes going 5½ furlongs over the Santa Anita turf. The race was supposed to run last week but was postponed due to a local wildfire.

Trainer Doug O’Neill’s trio of entries – The Great One, No Pedigree and Basque Man – drew posts Nos. 1-3, respectively. All three of those O’Neill trainees will debut in this race.

Amanzi Yimpilo, a filly from trainer Wesley Ward’s barn, is the only Speakeasy starter to have previously competed in stakes company. She was third Aug. 19 in Saratoga’s Bolton Landing.

The Vosburgh, Belmont Park, Saturday, Sprint

The $150,000 Vosburgh (G2) lost star power this week when Volatile, winner of Saratoga’s Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) on Aug. 25, was retired due to injury. The 4-year-old had been pointing to this six-furlong event.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who conditioned Volatile, will still be represented in the Vosburgh by Engage. The 5-year-old Grade 2 winner makes his first start since running fourth last November at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Firenze Fire, who finished one spot behind Engage in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, looks for his second Grade 2 score since switching barns to trainer Kelly Breen. The 5-year-old took Belmont’s True North (G2) on June 27 for Breen at Belmont but was off the board twice this summer at Saratoga, including an 11th-place finish Aug. 29 in the Forego Stakes (G1).

Rodeo Drive Stakes, Santa Anita, Saturday, Filly and Mare Turf

Lady Prancealot, a 4-year-old Richard Baltas trainee, carries the high weight of 126 pounds Saturday in the $300,000 Rodeo Drive (G1). The race goes 1¼ miles on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.

Heroine of last December’s American Oaks (G1) at Santa Anita, Lady Prancealot has not won in four tries this season.

Bodhicitta, also trained by Baltas, has taken three of her four 2020 starts, including Aug. 8 at Del Mar in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2). She will retain the services of jockey Flavien Prat, who has posted 20 graded stakes wins this season.

American Pharoah Stakes, Santa Anita, Saturday, Juvenile

Trainer Bob Baffert is a nine-time winner of the $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes (G1), a race named for his 2015 Triple Crown winner. Baffert will try for a 10th victory in this 1 1/16-mile event with Spielberg.

A $1 million yearling purchase last September at Keeneland, Spielberg is still looking for his first win. He ran second to Dr. Schivel ­­– who is not entered in the American Pharoah – at Del Mar in an Aug. 8 maiden special weight race and Sept. 7 in the Del Mar Futurity (G1).

Ryan Hanson trainee Weston won the Best Pal Stakes (G2) on Aug. 8 at Del Mar before finishing third behind Dr. Schivel and Spielberg in the Del Mar Futurity. Notable Exception, from the barn of trainer Jack Sisterson, ships to Santa Anita off a Sept. 4 debut win at Arlington.

Chandelier Stakes, Santa Anita, Saturday, Juvenile Fillies

Baffert’s runners comprise three of the five fillies entered for the $200,000 Chandelier Stakes (G2) going 1 1/16 miles. The Hall of Fame trainer has won the Chandelier 11 times, including last September with the now-retired Bast.

Princess Noor headlines Baffert’s entries for the Chandelier. She improved to 2-for-2 on Sept. 6 when taking the Del Mar Debutante (G1) and will aim to stay unbeaten here under jockey Victor Espinoza.

Miss Costa Rica and Varda, debut Del Mar winners for Baltas and Baffert, respectively, make their stakes bows here. Trainer Mark Casse has entered Make Mischief, who was runner-up in three different Saratoga stakes this summer.

Awesome Again Stakes, Santa Anita, Saturday, Classic

Two Baffert stablemates and top Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders, Improbable and Maximum Security, are set to tangle in the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1).

The 1 1/8-mile Awesome Again will mark the 4-year-olds’ first meeting since the 2019 Kentucky Derby. In that race, Maximum Security was disqualified from first to 17th while favorite Improbable was elevated from fifth to fourth.

Improbable and Maximum Security have both already secured Breeders’ Cup Classic berths thanks to taking previous “Win and You’re In” races. Improbable prevailed in Saratoga’s Whitney Stakes (G1) on Aug. 1, with Maximum Security winning the Pacific Classic (G1) on Aug. 22 at Del Mar.

Midcourt, Sleepy Eyes Todd and Take the One O One are the only runners entered to face the two Baffert stars. Sleepy Eyes Todd invades Santa Anita after making the grade last out Aug. 28 in the Charles Town Classic Stakes (G2).

Grande Premio Brasil, Hipodromo da Gavea, Sunday, Turf

2019 Grande Premio Brasil (G1) winner George Washington looks to repeat in this event going about 1½ miles. Luiz Esteves trains the 5-year-old, who was fourth Aug. 2 in the Joao Borges Filho (G2) over the same Gaeva grounds.

Fellow Esteves trainee Olympic Impact enters the Grande Premio Brasil on a two-race win streak. The 5-year-old took both the Joao Borges Filho and the Antonio Joaquim Peixoto de Castro Junior (G2) on Aug. 30 at Gaeva.

Santa Anita Sprint Championship, Santa Anita, Sunday, Sprint

The six-furlong, $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2) features two runners who have already stamped Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” tickets.

Collusion Illusion, a Mark Glatt-trained 3-year-old, won a Challenge Series race for the Sprint division Aug. 1 in Del Mar’s Bing Crosby Stakes (G1). Six-year-old C Z Rocket won a Dirt Mile division qualifier at Del Mar for trainer Peter Miller on Aug. 29 in the Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2).

Other potential runners for the Sprint Championship include 6-year-old Flagstaff, who was second to C Z Rocket in the Pat O’Brien.

Zenyatta Stakes, Santa Anita, Sunday, Distaff

One day after saddling likely favorites in the American Pharoah, Awesome Again and Chandelier, Baffert will have the one to beat in the $200,000 Zenyatta Stakes (G2).

Fighting Mad headlines the field for Baffert in the 1 1/16-mile Zenyatta. The 4-year-old will look to claim a second straight “Win and You’re In” event after also winning the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) on Aug. 2 at Del Mar.

After beating fellow 3-year-olds Aug. 22 in Del Mar’s Torrey Pines Stakes (G3), Simon Callaghan trainee Harvest Moon faces older fillies and mares in the Zenyatta. Hard Not to Love, a John Shirreffs-trained 4-year-old, looks for her first win since the Santa Monica Stakes (G2) on Feb. 15 at Santa Anita.

Recent Challenge Series races

Woodbine Mile, Woodbine (Mile)

Starship Jubilee, the oldest starter and only mare in Saturday’s Woodbine Mile (G1), added another major triumph to her resume when taking the $1 million event.

The 7-year-old Kevin Attard trainee was stuck in traffic coming through the turn of the Woodbine Mile. Jockey Justin Stein found running room four-wide into the stretch, and she rallied to take the lead and score by a length over March to the Arch.

“Just an unbelievable feeling,” Attard said. “This mare doesn't get the respect she deserves. She's a winner of 18 or 19 races out of 38 starts, I was really disappointed to see her at 6-1 on the board... just kind of forgotten about. Time after time, she comes up and proves that she's a top horse in North America.”

Starship Jubilee, the Sovereign Award 2019 Horse of the Year, now has two Grade 1 victories, the other coming last October at Woodbine in the E.P. Taylor Stakes. She has never made a Breeders’ Cup start.

Natalma Stakes, Woodbine (Juvenile Fillies Turf)

Lady Speightspeare acted up in the gate Sunday before the Natalma Stakes (G1), forcing jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson to temporarily bail out. But once the race started, the filly was all game.

Trained by Roger Attfield, Lady Speightspeare settled into second place in the Natalma behind Big Big Plans. She put that pace setter away in the final furlong to win her stakes debut.

“Kudos to the gate crew here at Woodbine,” Wilson said. “They kept her straight and steady so, despite her rearing, she didn't manage to get herself hung up or hurt in anyway, which meant she was able to compete and win today." 

Lady Speightspeare will look to become the second Breeders’ Cup winner for Attfield, who took the 2011 Filly and Mare Turf with Perfect Shirl.

Summer Stakes, Woodbine (Juvenile Turf)

Gretzky the Great, a son of 2016 Kentucky Derby hero Nyquist, joined his sire as a Grade 1 winner Sunday when taking the Summer Stakes.

Casse trains Gretzky the Great, who entered Woodbine’s Summer off a victory in the local Soaring Free Stakes. He took aim Sunday at leader Ready to Repeat and drove away from that one to win by 3¼ lengths.

“He is such an amazing horse,” said jockey Kazushi Kimura, who recorded his first Grade 1 win. “… He had a tremendous explosion. He sometimes was a little bit lugging in, but he's just still a baby." 

Gretzky the Great will now look to make Nyquist the second straight Kentucky Derby winner to boast a Breeders’ Cup champion among his first crop of 2-year-olds. Last November, American Pharoah colt Four Wheel Drive took the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

Challenge Series race winners


, Haskell Stakes, Monmouth Park, July 18

Authentic’s win in the Haskell (G1) made him the first runner from the barn of Baffert — a 15-time Breeders’ Cup winner — to clinch a berth in the 2020 Championships. The Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt then scored an even bigger victory Sept. 5 when taking the 2020 Kentucky Derby in front-running fashion. Now 5-for-6 in his career, Authentic is at Churchill Downs training for Pimlico’s Preakness Stakes on Oct. 3. The 3-year-old is No. 5 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings.

, International Stakes, York, Aug. 19

Ghaiyyath made it 3-for-3 during his 5-year-old season when leading at every call of the International (G1). The Irish-bred son of Dubawi then took his first loss Sept. 12 when second to Magical in the Irish Champions Stakes (G1). Trainer Charlie Appleby said the Breeders’ Cup Turf would be Ghaiyyath’s most likely race if he traveled this fall to Keeneland.

, Whitney, Saratoga, Aug. 1

Improbable shipped East from Baffert’s California base for the Whitney (G1) and proved best in a field of five millionaires. The Kentucky-bred son of City Zip has now posted back-to-back top-flight wins, also taking the Hollywood Gold Cup Stakes (G1) on June 6 at Santa Anita. Improbable, No. 4 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings, is entered in Saturday’s Awesome Again Stakes.

Maximum Security
, Pacific Classic, Del Mar, Aug. 22

Maximum Security became the third Baffert trainee to clinch a Breeders’ Cup Classic berth when going gate-to-wire in the Pacific Classic (G1). The 4-year-old New Year’s Day colt has won six straight races, a streak that began last July in the Haskell (G1), and has 10 official wins in 12 starts. The Kentucky-bred sits at No. 1 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings and is entered to face Improbable in the Awesome Again.

Mozu Ascot
, February Stakes, Tokyo Racecourse, Feb. 23

A Kentucky-bred son of Frankel, 6-year-old Mozu Ascot is a two-time Group 1 winner in Japan, including his February victory. The Yoshito Yahagi trainee last finished sixth May 5 at Funabashi in the Kashiwa Kinen.

Tom’s d’Etat
, Stephen Foster, Churchill Downs, June 27

7-year-old Tom’s d’Etat was a dominant winner of the Stephen Foster (G2) for trainer Al Stall Jr. but saw a four-race winning streak snapped Aug. 1 in the Whitney (G1). The Kentucky-bred Smart Strike horse went off favored at Saratoga but stumbled at the start and finished third to Improbable and By My Standards. Tom’s d’Etat is No. 2 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings and is working at Churchill.


Other potential Classic contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Art Collector, Benbatl, By My Standards, Code of Honor, Global Campaign, Tacitus Tiz the Law, War of Will

Dirt Mile

C Z Rocket
, Pat O’Brien Stakes, Del Mar, Aug. 29

Former claimer C Z Rocket improved to 4-for-4 under Miller when winning the Pat O’Brien (G2). The Florida-bred 6-year-old previously ran for Stall. The Breeders’ Cup Sprint is also an option for the City Zip gelding, who is probable for Sunday’s $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2).

, Metropolitan Handicap, Belmont Park, July 4

One race after stamping a Breeders’ Cup Sprint “Win and You’re In” ticket by taking Belmont’s Carter Handicap (G1), Vekoma won the Met Mile (G1) to also earn a Dirt Mile berth. Trainer George Weaver and owners will have to choose which way to go with the 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Candy Ride colt. Vekoma is working at Saratoga.


Other potential Dirt Mile contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Complexity, Echo Town, Flagstaff, Midcourt, Midnight Sands, No Parole, Pirate’s Punch, Rushie, Sharp Samurai, Warrior’s Charge, Whitmore, Win Win Win


Fighting Mad
, Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, Del Mar, Aug. 1

Fighting Mad entered her 4-year-old season with only five starts to her name but has become the West Coast’s hottest distaffer. After winning the Santa Maria Stakes (G2) on May 31 at Santa Anita, she backed up 9-5 favoritism in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1). The Kentucky-bred filly shares the same trainer (Baffert), owners/breeders (Gary and Mary West) and sire (New Year’s Day) as Maximum Security. Next up is Sunday’s $200,000 Zenyatta Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.

Midnight Bisou
, Fleur de Lis, Churchill Downs, June 27

Midnight Bisou looked like her dominant self in the Fleur de Lis (G2), but then took an unexpected loss to Vexatious on Aug. 1 at Saratoga in the Personal Ensign (G1). Asmussen trains the 5-year-old Midnight Lute mare, who was named Eclipse Award 2019 Champion Older Dirt Female. The Kentucky-bred has run twice in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, finishing third in 2018 and second in 2019. Midnight Bisou is working at Saratoga.

She’s a Julie
, Ogden Phipps Stakes, Belmont Park, June 13

Asmussen trainee She’s a Julie became a two-time Grade 1 winner with her Ogden Phipps victory. The 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred Elusive Quality mare has followed that victory with two off-the-board finishes, including Sept. 4 at Churchill Downs in the La Troienne Stakes (G1).

Swiss Skydiver
, Alabama, Saratoga, Aug. 15

Swiss Skydiver became the first 3-year-old to clinch a Breeders’ Cup Distaff berth with her Alabama (G1) triumph. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Daredevil has tallied four graded stakes victories this year for trainer Kenny McPeek, all of them coming at different tracks. She ran second to Shedaresthedevil on Sept. 4 at Churchill in the Kentucky Oaks. Swiss Skydiver is under consideration for the Preakness.

, Personal Ensign, Saratoga, Aug. 1

Never one to duck a challenge, Vexatious has made 15 of her 24 career starts in graded stakes. The 6-year-old Sisterson trainee broke through with her biggest win Aug. 1 when beating Midnight Bisou to the wire in the Personal Ensign (G1). The Giant’s Causeway mare posted a 105 Beyer Speed Figure in that victory, the best number a female runner has tallied this season in a main track race going more than a mile. She finished a disappointing fifth in the La Troienne and is working at Keeneland.


Other potential Distaff contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Ce Ce, Horologist, Letruska, Monomoy Girl, Ollie’s Candy, Shedaresthedevil, Speech

Filly and Mare Sprint

Serengeti Empress
, Ballerina Stakes, Saratoga, Aug. 8

Tom Amoss trainee Serengeti Empress set blazing fractions, then dug in gamely to win the Ballerina (G1). The Kentucky-bred, 4-year-old Alternation filly is now a Grade 1 winner at both one and two turns, having also won the 2019 Kentucky Oaks. She put forth another valiant effort Sept. 5 at Churchill in the Derby City Distaff (G1) but lost a head bob to Bell’s the One.


Other potential Filly and Mare Sprint contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Bell’s the One, Bellafina, Come Dancing, Four Graces, Gamine, Mia Mischief, Venetian Harbor

Filly and Mare Turf

Almond Eye
, Victoria Mile, Tokyo Racecourse, May 17

Sakae Kunieda trains the Japanese-bred Almond Eye, a 5-year-old Lord Kanaloa mare. A Group 1 winner in both Japan and the United Arab Emirates, she was second last out at Tokyo on June 7 in the Yasuda Kinen (G1).


Champers Elysees, Matron Stakes, Leopardstown, Sept. 12

Champers Elysees earned Murtagh – a three-time Breeders’ Cup winner as a jockey ­– a trip to the 2020 Championships as a trainer when taking the Matron Stakes (G1). The 3-year-old Elzaam filly is undefeated in four starts this season. Bred in Ireland, Champers Elysees could run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile rather than the Filly and Mare Turf.

, Yorkshire Oaks, York, Aug. 20

Aidan O’Brien trainee Love scored her third consecutive Group 1 win in the Yorkshire Oaks. The Irish-bred, 3-year-old Galileo filly is targeting the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe (G1) on Oct. 4 at ParisLongchamp.

Queen Supreme
, Cartier Paddock Stakes, Kenilworth, Jan. 11

Irish-bred Queen Supreme is a 4-year-old Exceed and Excel filly trained by Mike de Kock, who American racing fans will remember as conditioner of 2015 Kentucky Derby contender Mubtaahij.


Other potential Filly and Mare Turf contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Alpine Star, Audarya, Beau Recall, Bodhicitta, Cayenne Pepper, Con Te Partiro, Fancy Blue, Jolie Olimpica, Magic Attitude, Mean Mary, Newspaperofrecord, Powerful Breeze, Rushing Fall, Sistercharlie, Star Catcher, Starship Jubilee, Tarnawa




Sittin On Go, Iroquois Stakes, Churchill Downs, Sept. 5

Sittin On Go became the first 2-year-old to clinch a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile berth when upsetting the Iroquois Stakes (G3) at 24-1 odds for trainer Romans. The Kentucky-bred son of Brody’s Cause is 2-for-2, having also won on debut Aug. 16 at Ellis Park.


Other potential Juvenile contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Calibrate, Jackie’s Warrior, Weston


Juvenile Fillies


Girl Daddy, Pocahontas Stakes, Churchill Downs, Sept. 3

Uncle Mo filly Girl Daddy clinched the first Juvenile Fillies division “Win and You’re In” berth when taking the Pocahontas Stakes (G3). Romans trains the Kentucky-bred 2-year-old, who is unbeaten in two starts.


Other potential Juvenile Fillies contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Cantata, My Girl Red, Princess Noor, Simply Ravishing, Thoughtfully, Travel Column, Vequist


Juvenile Fillies Turf


Lady Speightspeare, Natalma Stakes, Woodbine, Sept. 20

Lady Speightspeare acted up in the gate, but then got down to business to win Woodbine’s Natalma (G1) in her stakes debut. The Kentucky-bred Speightstown filly is trained by Attfield.


Shale, Moyglare Stud Stakes, Curragh, Sept. 13

In his first year as a trainer, Donnacha O’Brien has earned a trip to the Breeders’ Cup thanks to Shale’s victory in the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1). The Irish-bred 2-year-old is a Galileo filly.


Other potential Juvenile Fillies Turf contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Alda, Aunt Pearl, Bubbles on Ice, Campanelle, Invincible Gal, King’s Harlequin, Madone, Miss Amulet, Plum Ali, Pretty Gorgeous


Juvenile Turf


Cadillac, Champions Juvenile Stakes, Leopardstown, Sept. 12

The first Juvenile Turf berth of 2020 went to Irish-bred 2-year-old Cadillac, who dominated the Champions Juvenile Stakes (G2). Jessica Harrington trains the son of Lope De Vega and said a Breeders’ Cup start is likely.


Gretzky the Great, Summer Stakes, Woodbine, Sept. 20

Casse won the Summer Stakes (G1) for the fourth time since 2013 thanks to Gretzky the Great, an Ontario-bred son of first-crop sire Nyquist. The colt already has three wins to his name, all coming at Woodbine.


Other potential Juvenile Turf contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Big Fish, Devious Company, Military Style, New Mandate, Outadore, Pivotal Mission, Public Sector, Ventura Tormenta

Juvenile Turf Sprint

Prix Morny, Deauville, Aug. 23

The Irish-bred Campanelle improved to 3-for-3 so far in her career when taking the Prix Morny (G1) for Ward. The 2-year-old Kodiac filly also won the Queen Mary Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot. She is training at Keeneland and could work to a start in the Breeders’ Cup, likely in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The Lir Jet
, Norfolk Stakes, Ascot, June 19

The Lir Jet improved to 2-for-2 when winning the Norfolk Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot. Since that victory, the 2-year-old has run second in a pair of stakes, including the Phoenix (G1) on Aug. 9 at Curragh. Michael Bell trains the Irish-bred Prince of Lir colt.


Other potential Juvenile Turf Sprint contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Acapulco Gold, Aloha Star, Golden Pal, Happy Romance, Kalahara, Mighty Gurkha, Miss Amulet, Steel Bull, Ubettabelieveit, Zoetic  


Circus Maximus
, Queen Anne Stakes, Ascot, June 16

Circus Maximus, a Galileo colt, won his 4-year-old bow in the Queen Anne (G1), marking the second Royal Ascot victory of his career. He has followed that victory up with by finishing second, third and third in a trio of Group 1 events. The Irish-bred Aidan O’Brien trainee ran fourth last November in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Gran Alegria
, Yasuda Kinen, Tokyo Racecourse, June 7

Kazuo Fujisawa trains the 4-year-old filly Gran Alegria, a daughter of Deep Impact. The Yasuda Kinen marked a second Group 1 triumph in her native Japan.

, Fourstardave Handicap, Saratoga, Aug. 22

Trainer Todd Pletcher’s first “Win and You’re In” berth came courtesy of Halladay, who earned a Grade 1 breakthrough in the Fourstardave. The 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of War Front has won three of his last four races. Halladay is working at Saratoga. He could target the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) on Oct. 3 at Keeneland, the same track hosting the Breeders’ Cup a month later.

 Sussex Stakes, Goodwood, July 29

Four-year-old Mohaather unleashed a thrilling rally to take the Sussex Stakes (G1), a second straight triumph in group company. Marcus Tregoning trains the Great British-bred Showcasing colt.

Palace Pier
, Prix Jacques le Marois, Deauville, Aug. 16

Kingman colt Palace Pier improved to 5-for-5 in his career when defeating Circus Maximus and others in the Prix Jacques le Marois (G1). John Gosden trains the Great British-bred 3-year-old, who also won the St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot.

Raging Bull
, Shoemaker Mile Stakes, Santa Anita Park, May 25

The French-bred Raging Bull secured the first “Win and You’re In” berth of the U.S. racing season with his Shoemaker Mile (G1) score. Chad Brown trains the 5-year-old Dark Angel gelding. Raging Bull was most recently fifth Aug. 22 in the Fourstardave at Saratoga and is working at Belmont Park.


Starship Jubilee, Woodbine Mile, Woodbine, Sept. 19

Canada’s 2019 Horse of the Year, Starship Jubilee, continued her remarkable career when beating a field full of male runners in the 2020 Woodbine Mile (G1). Kevin Attard trains the 7-year-old Indy Wind mare, who now shows 19 victories out of 38 starts. The Florida-bred Starship Jubilee has five wins through six starts this season.

, L'Ormarins Queen's Plate, Kenilworth, Jan. 11

Vardy is a 5-year-old Var gelding bred in South Africa. Adam Marcus serves as trainer.


Other potential Mile contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Analyze It, Beau Recall, Champers Elysees, Con Te Partiro, Earthlight, Jolie Olimpica, Kameko, March to the Arch, Pinatubo, Safe Voyage, Sharp Samurai, Uni, War of Will


Collusion Illusion
, Bing Crosby Stakes, Del Mar, Aug. 2

Glatt chose to keep the Twirling Candy colt Collusion Illusion on the West Coast facing older in the Bing Crosby (G1) rather than traveling East to run against fellow 3-year-olds in Saratoga’s H. Allen Jerkens (G1). That proved the right move, with the Florida-bred winning and improving to 5-for-6 lifetime. Next is Sunday’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship.

, Carter Handicap, Belmont Park, June 6

Weaver trainee Vekoma made his Grade 1 breakthrough with a 7 1/4-length Carter victory. The 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Candy Ride colt also won a “Win and You’re In” race for the Dirt Mile division July 4 when taking Belmont’s Metropolitan Handicap. Vekoma is working at Saratoga.


Other potential Sprint contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): C Z Rocket, Complexity, Diamond Oops, Lexitonian, Yaupon, Wildman Jack


Channel Maker
, Sword Dancer, Saratoga, Aug. 29

Channel Maker, a 6-year-old son of English Channel, wired the Sword Dancer (G1) to snap a 10-race winless streak. The Ontario-bred has now won Grade 1 events on the NYRA circuit in each of the last three seasons. Mott said the $250,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) on Oct. 3 at Belmont Park will likely serve as Channel Maker’s Breeders’ Cup prep. The gelding was 11th and 12th, respectively, in the 2018 and ’19 editions of the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He is working at Saratoga.

Chrono Genesis
, Takarazuka Kinen, Hanshin Racecourse, June 28

4-year-old Bago filly Chrono Genesis scored her second Group 1 victory in the Takarazuka Kinen. Takashi Saito trains the Japanese-bred runner.

 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Ascot, July 25

Enable scored the first win of her 6-year-old campaign when taking the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (G1) for a remarkable third time. She was first again Sept. 5 at Kempton Park in the September Stakes (G3), a tune-up for the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. The Great British-bred daughter of Nathaniel has now earned more than $14 million running for trainer Gosden. The 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf champ didn’t attempt to defend her title last year.

Lord North
, Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Ascot, June 17

Irish-bred 4-year-old Lord North won Royal Ascot’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes in his Group 1 debut. Gosden trains the Dubawi gelding, who was third Aug. 19 at York in the International Stakes (G1).


Magical, Irish Champion Stakes, Leopardstown, Sept. 12

Aidan O’Brien saddled 5-year-old Magical to a seventh career Group 1 triumph in the Irish Champion Stakes. The Irish-bred Galileo mare has one U.S. start over her 25 career races, running second to Enable in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf. O’Brien said Magical is likely to travel across the Atlantic for this November’s championships.

Nao Da Mais
, Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini, San Isidro Racecourse, Dec. 14

Nao Da Mais is a four-time Group 1 winner in his native Brazil. The 4-year-old T.H. Approval colt last raced March 14 at San Isidro in the Gran Premio Latinoamericano (G1), finishing seventh. Marina Bragante Lopez is the trainer.

Red King
, Del Mar Handicap, Del Mar, Aug. 22

Phil D’Amato trainee Red King became a multiple graded stakes winner when upsetting 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up United to win the Del Mar Handicap (G2). The 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of English Channel also won the San Juan Capistrano Stakes (G3) earlier this summer at Santa Anita. He is working at Santa Anita.


Other potential Turf contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Arklow, Barney Roy, Ghaiyyath, United, Zulu Alpha

Turf Sprint

Nunthorpe Stakes, York, Aug. 21

Six-year-old gelding Battaash defended his 2019 Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) score by taking the race’s 2020 running. Charlie Hills trains the Irish-bred son of Dark Angel, who has won five of his last six starts dating to last August.


Glass Slippers, Flying Five Stakes, Curragh, Sept. 13

Glass Slippers earned a Breeders’ Cup berth when taking the Flying Five Stakes (G1) for trainer Kevin Ryan. The 4-year-old, Great British-bred filly is a daughter of Dream Ahead.

Hello Youmzain
, Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Ascot, June 20

Ryan also trains Hello Youmzain, a 4-year-old son of Kodiac. The French-bred colt has run three times since his Diamond Jubilee (G1) score. Hello Youmzain most recently finished fifth at Haydock Park in the Betfair Sprint Cup (G1).


Imprimis, Turf Sprint, Kentucky Downs, Sept. 12

Imprimis, who was disqualified from a win at Saratoga on Aug. 8 in the Troy Stakes (G3), got to keep his first-place laurels when coming home first in the Turf Sprint (G3) at Kentucky Downs. Joe Orseno trains the 6-year-old Broken Vow gelding. The Florida-bred Imprimis was sixth last year in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.


Oleksandra, Jaipur, Belmont Park, June 20

Six-year-old Animal Kingdom mare Oleksandra edged Kanthaka by a neck in the Jaipur (G1), marking her first top-level victory. Neil Drysdale trains the Australian-bred runner, who has raced in the U.S. since 2018. Oleksandra does not show any recent works.


Other potential Turf Sprint contenders (per the Breeders’ Cup website): Diamond Oops, Equilateral, Got Stormy, Guildsman, Kimari, Oxted, Stubbins, Wildman Jack

Top Stories

Pre-entires for the Breeders' Cup were submitted o...
According to a newly disclosed report from the Cal...
There is no event in racing that offers better val...
All 14 Breeders' Cup races carry their own intrigu...
Calling them his “dream team,” trainer Bob Baffert...