First Look: Nest's return leads packed graded-stakes calendar

First Look: Nest's return leads packed graded-stakes calendar
Photo: Gary Johnson/Eclipse Sportswire

Nest returns Saturday in the Grade 2 Beldame at Aqueduct in her final tune-up for the Breeders' Cup.

But that's a small part of a packed weekend with 24 graded stakes, including 13 automatic qualifiers for the Breeders' Cup plus two points races for both the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks.

Here's a look at the likely fields.

Friday

Alcibiades (G1), Keeneland, 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-old fillies, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies qualifier

Wonder Wheel, runner-up to top 2-year-old filly Leave No Trace in the Spinaway (G1) last out, and Fun and Feisty, impressive winner of the Pocahontas (G3), are likely to vie for favoritism. Infinite Diamond was  a 14 1/2-length maiden special weight winner at Gulfstream in her first route. Two-time turf winner Chop Chop also could try to transfer her sharp grass form to the dirt, but trainer Brad Cox also is considering her for the Jessamine. This race offers 10-4-3-2-1 Kentucky Derby points to the top five finishers

2022 Alcibiades (G1)


Jessamine (G2), Keeneland, 1 1/16 miles (turf), 2-year-old fillies, 
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf qualifier

Chop Chop looms as the likely favorite if she goes. If Cox opts for the Alcibiades, favoritism likely will fall to either Blind Spot, who won the Our Dear Peggy at a mile and 70 yards on the synthetic surface at Lone Star in her most recent start, or Towhead, who finished a nose behind Chop Chop in the Kentucky Downs race.

2022 Jessamine (G2)

Phoenix (G2), Keeneland, 6 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up, Breeders’ Cup Sprint qualifier

Special Reserve, winner of last year’s Phoenix before running fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, may be favored off his gate-to-wire win over Phoenix rival Baytown Bear in the Sen. Robert C. Byrd Memorial at Charles Town in the slop on Aug. 6. But lightly raced 3-year-old Nakatomi, Sir Alfred James, winner of two straight, and retooled router Necker Island also are likely to draw support at the windows.

2022 Phoenix (G2)

Saturday

Keeneland Turf Mile (G1), Keeneland, 1 mile (turf), 3-year-olds and up, Breeders’ Cup Mile qualifier

Several potential contenders here are coming off graded-stakes wins. Casa Creed won the Fourstardave (G1) and the Jaipur (G1) in his last two starts. Santin won the Arlington Million (G1) with Smooth Like Strait in second. Somelikeithotbrown has two stakes wins in a row, including the Mint Million (G3) last out. Set Piece – also possible in the Knickerbocker – scored in the Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup (G3), and Emaraaty won his first grade start last out in the Bernard Baruch (G3). Ivar won a listed stakes at Horseshoe Indianapolis in his first start after an eight-month break and then was second in the Woodbine Mile (G1) after getting bumped at the start.

2022 Keeneland Turf Mile (G1)

Breeders’ Futurity (G1), Keeneland, 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-olds, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile qualifier

Forte bounced back from a fourth-place finish in the Sanford (G3) to win the Hopeful by three lengths over Gulfport. Bob Baffert’s two possible contenders, Carmel Road and National Treasure, are last-out winners in maiden special weights. Lost Ark won his debut at Belmont by 5 1/2 lengths and then won the black-type Sapling Stakes by 7 1/2 lengths. Frosted Departure is 2-for-4, winning an allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs by 9 1/4 lengths last out. This race offers 10-4-3-2-1 Kentucky Derby points to the top five finishers.

2022 Breeders' Futurity (G1)

First Lady (G1), Keeneland, 1 mile (turf), fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up

Chad Brown has an accomplished trio possible here: In Italian, Technical Analysis and Regal Glory. The former has two graded-stakes wins this year, including the Diana (G1) at Saratoga in her most recent start. Technical Analysis also captured a pair of graded stakes wins this year in the Ballston Spa (G2) and the Gallorette (G3). And Regal Glory has won three graded stakes this year – two of them Grade 1s – before finishing second to Casa Creed in the Fourstardave (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 13. Michael Stidham also could saddle a pair in Alms, winner of the One Dreamer at Kentucky Downs last out, and Princess Grace, runner-up to Dalika in her last two starts: the Beverly D. (G1) at Churchill Downs and the Ladies Turf (G3) at Kentucky Downs. Princess Grace also is under consideration for the Keeneland Turf Mile (G1) on Saturday’s card.

2022 First Lady Stakes (G1)

Woodford (G2), Keeneland, 5 1/2 furlongs (turf), 3-year-olds and up

Wesley Ward is expected to saddle the likely top two betting choices: defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champ Golden Pal, 3-for-3 at the distance at Keeneland, and multiple graded-stakes winner Bound for Nowhere, who captured the Highlander (G2) on July 2 at Woodbine in his most recent start. Another Ward runner, 3-year-old Asymmetric, is a Group 2 winner in Britain but winless in three starts for Ward. Gear Jockey, also a graded-stakes winner, is the most accomplished rival to the Ward runners but is 0-for-4 this year.

2022 Woodford (G2)

Thoroughbred Club of America (G2), Keeneland, 6 furlongs, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint qualifier

It appeared that Bell’s the One and Sconsin would meet for the ninth time, but Bell's the One was not included in Keeneland's updated probables list on Monday. The field has several other capable stakes winners, including Happy Soul, Joyful Cadence and Slammed.

2022 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2)


Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1), Aqueduct, 1 1/2 miles (turf), 3-year-olds and up

Daily Racing Form reported that Bill Mott plans to start War Like Goddess here for her first start against males. She has raced only three times this year, winning the Bewitch (G3) and Glens Falls (G2) before finishing second in the Flower Bowl. Gufo just missed winning the Kentucky Turf Club (G2) last out, finishing a nose behind Red Knight. Before that, he won the Sword Dancer (G1) for his second graded-stakes win this year. Soldier Rising, Adhamo and Rockemperor, also expected here, were third, eighth and ninth, respectively, in the Sword Dancer last out. Astronaut’s eighth-place finish in the Del Mar Stakes (G2) was his first start since November.

2022 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1)

Vosburgh (G2), Aqueduct, 7 furlongs, 3-year-olds and up, Breeders’ Cup Sprint qualifier

Eight-year-old Drafted started the year 3-for-4 in stakes races but could manage only a fifth in the Forego (G1) last out. Four-year-old Elite Power broke his maiden in June, then won a Churchill Downs allowance and an allowance optional claiming at Saratoga. Southern District won three in a row before finishing fourth in the Tale of the Cat. This would be his first graded-stakes start. Willy Boi is 3-for-4 this year, last finishing third in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1).

2022 Vosburgh (G2)

Matron (G3), Aqueduct, 6 furlongs (turf), 2-year-old fillies

Recognize led most of the way in the P.G. Johnson before being overtaken and finishing third. Sweet Harmony won her first two starts before finishing fifth in the Bolton Landing. Dontlookbackatall would make her second start after winning her Saratoga debut by two lengths.

2022 Matron (G3)

American Pharoah (G1), Santa Anita, 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-olds, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile qualifier

Of the six Bob Baffert names on this list, Cave Rock impresses most with his six-length debut win followed by a 5 1/4-length win in the Del Mar Futurity (G1). Havnameltdown, second in the Futurity, won his debut and then the Best Pal (G3). Giver Not a Taker also is 2-for-2, winning the black-type I’m Smokin stakes at Del Mar after breaking his maiden on first try. This races offers 10-4-3-2-1 Kentucky Derby points to the top five finishers.

2022 American Pharoah (G1)

Rodeo Drive (G1), Santa Anita, 1 1/2 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, Breeder’s Cup Filly & Mare Turf qualifier

Going Global is 4: 2-1-1 this year, winning the Royal Heroine (G2) in April and the Yellow Ribbon in August. She was a half-length short of winning her last start, in the John C. Mabee (G2). Going to Vegas was third in the Mabee and was second in her three other starts this year, all graded stakes. Neige Blanche is 3-for-5 this year, including wins in the Astra (G3) and Santa Barbara (G3) at this track and distance.

2022 Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1)

Chandelier (G2), Santa Anita, 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-old fillies, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies qualifier

This race features impressive fillies, including Justique, the daughter of Justify who came from last place to win her debut by 2 1/2 lengths. And Tell Me Nolies broke her maiden on second start and then won the Debutante by a head over Home Cooking, also expected here. This race offers 10-4-3-2-1 Kentucky Oaks points to the top five finishers.

2022 Chandelier (G2)

Sunday

Spinster (G1), Keeneland, 1 1/8 miles (turf), fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, Breeders’ Cup Distaff qualifier

This is shaping up as a matchup between 2021 Eclipse winners. Malathaat, last year’s champion 3-year-old filly, is 4: 2-2-0 this year, all in graded stakes, winning the Personal Ensign (G1) last out over Search Results, with Letruska in third. Letruska – last year’s champion older dirt female, is looking for her first win since the Apple Blossom (G1) in April.

2022 Spinster (G1)

Bourbon (G2), Keeneland, 1 1/16 miles (turf), 2-year-olds, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf qualifier

Boppy O is 2-for-3 this year, bouncing back from a 10th-place finish in the Sanford (G3) to win the With Anticipation (G3). Really Good won his debut at Saratoga and then was third, behind winner Reckoning Force, in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile. That was Reckoning Force’s first win in his four career starts, which include his debut in Ireland.

2022 Bourbon (G2)

Beldame (G2), Aqueduct, 1 1/8 miles, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up

Superstar Nest is expected to make her return here after wins in the Alabama (G1) and Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). Travel Column’s fourth-place finish in the Ballerina (G1) followed an allowance win at Churchill Downs that was her first start in a year. The Grass Is Blue is listed as possible, although she is entered in Tuesday’s Roamin Rachel at Parx. She’s 3: 1-1-0 this year after a 10-month break.

2022 Beldame (G2)

Knickerbocker (G3), Aqueduct, 1 1/8 miles (turf), 3-year-olds and up

Field Pass followed his fourth-place finish in the Mint Million Mile with a fifth-place showing in a Kentucky Downs handicap. Pixelate has had only two starts this year, a third in the Prince George’s County in July and sixth in the Mint MiIlion. Public Sector – third to Set Piece in the Baltimore/Washington International – is looking for his first win this year.

2022 Knickerbocker (G3)

Futurity (G3), Aqueduct, 6 furlongs (turf), 2-year-olds, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint qualifier

Power Attack is 1-for-4, with second- and fifth-place finishes in black-type stakes at Monmouth Park after breaking his maiden. Inflation Nation and Nagirroc broke their maidens on second try. Vacation Dance won his debut by a head at Saratoga, and Dunedin got his first win in a Kentucky Downs allowance after two tries.

2022 Futurity (G3)

Zuma Beach (G3), Santa Anita, 1 mile (turf), 2-year-olds

Four contenders from the Del Mar Juvenile Turf (G3) are possible here, including winner Packs a Wahlop, who broke his maiden in August on second try. Don’tthinkjustdoit crossed the line next, 4 1/4 lengths out of first, but was disqualified to seventh for drifting and causing a chain reaction. In his only other start, he won a maiden special weight by 5 1/4 lengths.

2022 Zuma Beach (G3)


Surfer Girl (G3), Santa Anita, 1 mile (turf), 2-year-old fillies

Comanche Country, winner of the Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf over three others expected here, broke her maiden at that track in July after making her first two starts in Ireland. Bolt’s Broad rallied to catch Classymademoiselle by a nose last out in a one-mile maiden special weight at Del Mar.

2022 Surfer Girl Stakes (G3)

Probables were not available for the E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1), Nearctic (G2) or Durham Cup (G3), all Saturday at Woodbine.

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