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.
Upcoming Challenge Series races
Bing Crosby Stakes, Del Mar, Saturday (Sprint)
Saturday’s running of the $250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) lost its biggest name Wednesday when trainer Bob Baffert said he would scratch McKinzie. The Bing Crosby would’ve marked the four-time Grade 1 winner’s first try at six furlongs.
Trainer Mark Glatt is running Collusion Illusion here against older horses rather than against fellow 3-year-olds in Saratoga’s H. Allen Jerkens (G1). The multiple graded stakes winner is 5: 4-0-0 lifetime and enters off a June 20 win in Santa Anita Park’s Lazaro Barrera Stakes (G3).
Lexitonian ships to Del Mar after scratching out of last weekend’s Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at Saratoga. Wildman Jack, winner of Santa Anita’s Daytona Stakes (G3) on May 23 at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, switches to dirt here.
Personal Ensign, Saratoga, Saturday (Distaff)
There’s no doubt which runner the $500,000 Personal Ensign (G1) goes through Saturday. That would be Midnight Bisou, who won this 1 1/8-mile race last summer on the way to earning the Eclipse Award for Champion Older Dirt Female.
Midnight Bisou’s 2019 Personal Ensign triumph came after a spectacular stretch duel against Elate. Can any of the other older fillies or mares here present a similar challenge to the Steve Asmussen-trained champion?
Point of Honor has missed the board just once in nine career starts but hasn’t won since last May’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) at Pimlico. She was second last out June 13 in Belmont Park’s Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1).
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
Take Charge Indy
I. Ortiz, Jr.
R. Santana, Jr.
Whitney, Saratoga, Saturday (Classic)
Only five are entered for Saturday’s $750,000 Whitney (G1), but four of the five appear in this week’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings: No. 1 Tom’s d’Etat, No. 3 Code of Honor, No. 7 By My Standards and No. 9 Improbable.
Tom’s d’Etat was made 6-5 morning line favorite for the 1 1/8-mile Whitney. Last out, the Al Stall Jr. trainee earned a 109 Beyer Speed Figure – best in any 2020 dirt race longer than a mile – when taking Churchill Downs’ Stephen Foster (G2) on June 27 at the Whitney’s distance.
By My Standards ran second to Tom’s d’Etat in the Stephen Foster. Code of Honor returns to the site of his biggest career win, last year’s Travers Stakes (G1). Improbable enters off a victory June 6 in Santa Anita’s Hollywood Gold Cup (G1).
Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, Del Mar, Sunday (Distaff)
The top three finishers from the May 31 Santa Maria Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita – Fighting Mad, Hard Not to Love and Ce Ce – are set to tangle again Sunday in the $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch (G1).
Baffert trainee Fighting Mad scored by 3 1/4 lengths in the Santa Maria in front-running style for the biggest victory of her career. In three career races at Del Mar, she’s notched two victories and a runner-up finish.
Ollie’s Candy will try to win the Hirsch a second straight year for trainer John Sadler. A victory would punch a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, a race where she finished fourth last November.
Recent Challenge Series races
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Ascot (Turf)
Only two other horses went postward Saturday at Ascot to challenge champion Enable, and she defeated them both. The 6-year-old mare showed a powerful closing move to score a third victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (G1).
Enable is now an 11-time Group or Grade 1 winner and has lost only three times in her 17-race career.
“I’m a bit emotional about it, because she’s special,” said jockey Frankie Dettori, whose victories aboard Enable include the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Racing fans could see Enable again next month in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1) before a potential career finale in October at Longchamp in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1). Should trainer John Gosden extend her career beyond the Arc, a Breeders’ Cup Turf bid awaits her Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
Sussex Stakes, Goodwood (Mile)
Mohaather, impressive winner of Ascot’s Summer Mile (G2) earlier this month, earned a second straight win Wednesday with a late charge in the Sussex Stakes (G1).
Jockey Jim Crowley tried to fit Mohaather through a hole with two furlongs to go but was closed off. The rider regrouped and moved the 4-year-old to the far outside, where he had the room to unleash a winning rally.
Circus Maximus, who already earned a Breeders’ Cup Mile berth last month at Ascot, crossed second behind the Marcus Tregoning-trained winner.
Challenge Series race winners
Authentic, Haskell Stakes, Monmouth Park, July 18
Authentic’s win in the Haskell (G1) made him the first runner from the barn of Bob Baffert – a 15-time Breeders’ Cup winner – to clinch a berth in the 2020 championships. The Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt is 4-for-5 lifetime. The 3-year-old sits second in the points standings for the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby, which is targeted as his next start. Despite Authentic’s Haskell triumph, he doesn’t appear in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings.
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. 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 showed no signs of slowing down in the Stephen Foster (G2), winning his fourth straight start. Conditioner Al Stall Jr. has the Kentucky-bred Smart Strike horse training at Saratoga in preparation for the $750,000 Whitney (G1), scheduled for Saturday. Tom’s d’Etat will also put his No. 1 spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings on the line in the Whitney.
Vekoma, 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 Breeders’ Cup 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, who’s No. 10 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings. Next up is the $300,000 Forego (G1) on Aug. 29 at Saratoga.
Midnight Bisou, Fleur de Lis, Churchill Downs, June 27
Making her first start since a valiant second-place run Feb. 29 in the Saudi Cup, Midnight Bisou was much the best in the Fleur de Lis (G2). Steve Asmussen trains the 5-year-old Midnight Lute mare, who was named the 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. She’s entered for Saturday’s $500,000 Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga, a race she won last year. Midnight Bisou is the lone female in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings, checking in at No. 5.
She’s a Julie, Ogden Phipps Stakes, Belmont Park, June 13
Steve 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 then followed that effort July 18 with a seventh-place finish at Monmouth Park in the Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3). She carried 127 pounds in that race, six more than any of her nine rivals
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).
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.
Juvenile Turf Sprint
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. The 2-year-old then took his first career loss July 19, finishing second in Chantilly’s Prix Robert Papin (G2). Michael Bell trains the Irish-bred Prince of Lir colt.
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 nearly won a second “Win and You’re In” race Wednesday, finishing runner-up to Mohaather in the Sussex Stakes (G1). 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 her second Group 1 triumph in Japan.
Mohaather, Sussex Stakes, Goodwood, July 29
4-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.
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, who was third last out at Keeneland on July 10 in the Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes (G1). He’s now working at Saratoga.
Vardy, 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.
Vekoma, Carter Handicap, Belmont Park, June 6
George Weaver trainee Vekoma made his Grade 1 breakthrough with a 7 1/4-length Carter (G1) 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 (G1). Sitting at No. 10 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings, he’s targeting the $300,000 Forego (G1) on Aug. 29 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.
Enable, 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. The Great British-bred daughter of Nathaniel has now earned more than $14 million running for trainer John Gosden. The 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf champ didn’t attempt to defend her title last year. Will she make a trip to the U.S. this November?
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. John Gosden trains the Dubawi gelding.
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.
Hello Youmzain, Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Ascot, June 20
Kevin Ryan trains Hello Youmzain, a 4-year-old son of Kodiac. The French-bred colt stayed in Group 1 company off his Diamond Jubilee score, running fifth at Newmarket on July 11 in the July Cup.
Oleksandra, Jaipur, Belmont Park, June 20
6-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’s raced in the U.S. since 2018.