Filed under: Breeders' Cup, Horse Racing
Every month we’ll recognize the top performing jockey, trainer and horse for the month according to a totally arbitrary formula devised to award points for finishing in the money in graded stakes races.
Graded Stakes Points
Horse of the Month: Gitano Hernando
Honorable Mention: Zenyatta
On points, the award should go to Unbridled Belle for her second to Music Note in the Grade 1 Beldame and a victory in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm, but a second in a five horse field and a G3 win doesn’t seem like much. Another contender was Le Grand Cru who picked up two Grade 3 wins this month, but one of those was in a three horse field, so he’s out too.
We’ll give the Horse of the Month award to Gitano Hernando for beating a very good field in the Goodwood Stakes, the local prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and in the process scaring the bejesus out of every U.S. trainer that was hoping to beat the Euro invaders in the Breeders’ Cup.
Let’s give the Honorable Mention to Zenyatta for winning yet again (yawn) and matching Personal Ensign’s career record.
Jockey of the Month: Garrett Gomez
Honorable mention: Rajiv Maragh
Garrett Gomez earns the Jockey of the Month award for finishing first four times and second five times in graded stakes races this month. Highlights for Gomez were Grade 1 wins with Lookin at Lucky in the Norfolk and Gayego in the Ancient Title.
Honorable Mention goes to Rajiv Maragh for picking up four graded stakes wins, along with two seconds and three thirds, highlighted by Grade 1 wins aboard Music Note in the Beldame, Negligee in the Alcibiades and Diamondrella in the First Lady.
Trainer of the Month: Todd Pletcher
Honorable mention: Saeed bin Suroor
Another successful month for Todd Pletcher who sent out runners to five graded stakes wins, six places and two shows. Two of the wins were Grade 1 victories by Devil May Care in the Frizette and Take The Points in the Jamaica.
Saeed bin Suroor’s barn stayed hot with four more graded stakes wins, including the Grade 1 wins by Music Note, Gayego, and by Vineyard Haven in the De Francis Memorial.
Filed under: Breeders' Cup, Horse Racing
There were lots of races with Breeders’ Cup implications this weekend, including 13 Grade 1’s. Let’s take a look.
Alcibiades (G1) – Scratched out of last weekend’s Miss Grillo when that race came off the turf at Belmont Park, Negligee instead earns her “Win and You’re In” on the Polytrack at Keeneland. I’d say that worked out pretty well, since the Juvenile Fillies is a $2M race, compared to $1M for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Phoenix (G3) – Fatal Bullet, last year’s runner-up in the BC sprint, is rounding into form at the right time. Should be a factor at Santa Anita.
Champagne (G1) – Homeboykris earned a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. indicated he would prefer to run in the Remsen at Aqueduct on 11/28. We’ll see what the owners want to do. Race favorite Dublin showed little.
Frizette (G1) – Devil May Care, in just her second career start, earned her way to Santa Anita in faster time than Homeboykris would one race later.
Jamaica (G1) – Take The Points picked up his second Grade 1 win (Secretariat at Arlington was the other) and looks to be the top three-year-old turf male. Not Breeders’ Cup eligible, so would require a hefty supplemental fee to run.
Hawthorne (G3) – Fifth in the G1 Secretariat in August, and winner of a non-graded stakes in September, Proceed Bee adds a graded stakes victory to his improving resume.
First Lady (G1) – Diamondrella’s victory gives her a WAYI entry to the F&M Turf, but her connections may also consider the BC Mile. Race favorite Forever Together finished third and will defend her title in the BC F&M Turf.
Breeders’ Futurity (G1) – Noble’s Promise took a big step forward at Keeneland to beat a good field including Backtalk, Make Music for Me and Akenite to punch his ticket to Santa Anita and the BC Juvenile.
Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) – Another evacuee from soggy Belmont Park last weekend, Court Vision parleyed that scratch into a Grade 1 victory and WAYI ticket to the BC Mile in four weeks. Race favorite Justenuffhumor showed nothing.
Thoroughbred Club (G2) – Informed Decision picked up her fifth graded stakes win of the year and secured her status as the top female sprinter in the country.
Goodwood (G1) – This race attracted a good field of accomplished runners, all with Breeders’ Cup Classic aspirations, including Colonel John, Mine That Bird, Tiago, Parading and Pacific Classic winner Richard’s Kid, but it was second (or third) tier British invader Gitano Hernando who stuck a neck in front at the wire to pick up the win and earn a return engagement in the BC Classic next month. There seems to be little reason for Mine That Bird or Tiago to continue on to the Breeders’ Cup.
Lady’s Secret (G1) – Zenyatta made it look easy as she tied Personal Ensign’s record of thirteen victories in thirteen career starts. Now the hard part – deciding where she should run next. Should she try to defend her title in the BC Ladies’ Classic and to retire undefeated with one more victory than Personal Ensign or take on male horses in the BC Classic, including an expected flood of Europe’s best, in an attempt to wrest the Horse of the Year title from Rachel Alexandra? Stay tuned.
Yellow Ribbon (G1) – Magical Fantasy justified the confidence of the crowd by getting up in deep stretch to pull out a half-length victory over Visit and Black Mamba. Up next is a showdown with Euro invaders in the BC F&M Turf.
Oak Tree Mile (G2) – Cowboy Cal, a winner of two graded stakes here on the Pro-Ride over the winter, returned to Santa Anita and picked up where he left off, but on the turf this time. It was a good front-running score for the four-year-old, but he’ll have to take it up a notch or two to come out on top next month in the BC Mile.
Jerome (G2) – Lightly raced Godolphin runner Girolamo picked up his first stakes victory as the 4-5 favorite in a field that included Dwyer (G2) and Jim Dandy (G2) winner Kensei, who finished third. No word on where Girolamo will run next.
Spinster (G1) – Proviso crossed the line in front, but the stewards deemed that she impeded runner-up Mushka and elevated that one to the win. Race favorite, and multi-WAYI (BC Ladies’ Classic) qualifier, Swift Temper raced wide throughout and faded badly in the stretch to a disappointing 10th place finish.
Bourbon Stakes (G3) – There have been two graded stakes races on the turf for two-year-olds this year and Interactif has won both of them. I’m pretty sure that makes him the favorite for the BC Juvenile Turf, at least among the U.S. runners.
Ancient Title (G1) – Gayego continued Godolphin’s winning ways over the past few months with a strong stretch run to pick up his first Grade 1 stakes win and should be well-supported in the BC Sprint next month.
Clement Hirsch (G1) – Yet another runner who bailed out of soggy Belmont Park last weekend in search of clearer skies found the Winner’s Circle with their backup plan. Much like his scores in the Mac Diarmida and the United Nations earlier this year, Presious Passion rolled out of the gate to a big early lead and played ‘catch me if you can’ with the rest of the field. Once again, no one was able to reel him in before he reached the finish line. He’ll take his high-wire act to the Breeders’ Cup Turf in four weeks and I wouldn’t bet against him getting the early lead again, but it will be a theft of the highest order if he’s able to sneak home before the thundering herd of Euros closes in on him.