Breeders’ Cup Notes: Aloha West Flying In ‘Under The Radar,’ Bella Sofia Will Try To Outrun Gamine Early

Trainer Wayne Catalano has an impressive Breeders’ Cup record, having earned a check in six of 14 runs, including three victories. He won the 2011 Juvenile Fillies Turf with Stephanie’s Kitten, 2006 Juvenile Fillies with Dreaming of Anna and 2009 Juvenile Fillies with She Be Wild, making him one of the few trainers to win Breeders’ Cup races on three surfaces: dirt, all-weather/synthetic and turf.

This year, the decorated Midwest conditioner returns seeking his first Breeders’ Cup trophy with a non-2-year-old in the Qatar Racing Sprint (G1) with Eclipse Throughbred Partners’ Phoenix Stakes (G2) runner-up Aloha West.

A winner of half his eight starts—all in 2021—the $160,000 Keeneland September 2018 purchase has ascended from an Oaklawn Park maiden debut victory in April to G2-placed, while also seeing his Beyer Speed Figures rise from 75 to 102 in the process. The maternal grandson of 2004 Sprint winner Speightstown drew post five of nine runners, is 8/1 on the morning line and will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.

“Today he went for a little gallop,” Catalano said. “He backed up to the wire and went about a mile and a quarter and just had a normal gallop. His last work was unbelievable, going (four furlongs) in :47 1/5 and galloped out in a minute flat and it made me very happy. He should have won the Phoenix. They squeezed him back pretty good at the start and our jock misjudged the corner a little. We were very happy with the race, other than not winning, and he was probably the best horse in that day—but the best horse doesn’t always win. It’s great to be back.

“The post is great for him, which puts him right in the middle and there’s good speed inside of him,” he continued. “It should set up perfect. We should be able to break and stay in contention and then when we’re ready to kick, we’ll get ’em.

“I’m blessed and thankful that Mr. Aron (Wellman) and Eclipse Thoroughbreds put me back in the game here.”

Last year, Catalano-trained Manny Wah was a troubled fifth in the Sprint, which still stings for the winner of 2,930 races as a trainer and 1,545 as a jockey: “We probably should have won that one. I’m almost certain we could have won it if he hadn’t given up his spot to the winner. Nothing against the winner, Whitmore is a really nice horse, but I know my horse was good enough to win.”

Wellman, president and founder of Eclipse, is just as pumped for Saturday as Catalano.

“It’s a Breeders’ Cup race, so of course it’s going to be salty, but our horse is just getting better and better by the day,” he said. “He’ll be tested on Saturday to find out if he’s good enough for the best sprinters in the world and at three-quarters, which might be a little bit sharp for him as far as his best distance, but he’s coming in like a beast. This is the way he’s going to need to be in order to compete with these and Catalano has him perfect.

“Cat is a Hall of Famer in my book,” Wellman continued. “I don’t know if there’s many guys out there who’ve won almost 3,000 races as a trainer and as many as he has as a jockey. When he shows up to the big dance, he knows how to find the prize. It’s just fun to be here with him. He’s had to reinvent himself so many times, but you just can’t keep the man down. He proves time and again, if given the right animal, he knows exactly what to do with them and get to the top of the mountain. We’ve supported him over the last 10 years since Eclipse has been in existence and he’s maximized every horse we’ve given him. It’s just a lot of fun to be here with Cat. We’re flying in under the radar, but we’re bringing a loaded gun.”

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Trainer Rudy Rodriguez said he will have simple instructions for jockey Luis Saez before he and Bella Sofia take on defending champion Gamine Saturday in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Gamine, the 3-5 favorite, will start from post five, just to the inside of the 3-year-old Bella Sofia in the seven-furlong race that has six runners. Bella Sofia has won four of five starts since making her debut on May 6 with a 11 ¼-length victory at Belmont Park.

“I’m going to tell Luis to just go for it because if you let Gamine get comfortable we’re going not going to catch her,” Rodriguez said, “I think I’m the only one who has got more speed in the race than the other fillies. Hopefully, we have more speed than Gamine to clear her and let her chase me.”

Gamine is unbeaten in four starts this year and has won nine of 10 career starts for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

While much was expected of Gamine, who sold as a yearling for $1,800,000, Bella Sofia brought just $20,000 as a 2-year-old at auction last year. She arrived from the farm with a reputation as a quirky young horse that needed special attention.

“They said to be careful with her. She is suspicious, so you have to be careful,” Rodriguez said. “And in the beginning she was, she was hard to handle. She wanted to do a lot more stuff than you wanted. We have a team in the barn and we tried to settle her down. She was taking everything in and we worked her we knew she had some talent.”

Since she wasn’t nominated to the Breeders’ Cup as a foal, Bella Sofia’s big ownership group decided to spent $100,000 to supplement her to the Filly and Mare Sprint after she won the Gallant Bloom on Sept. 26 at Belmont Park. Rodriquez shipped her from New York two weeks ahead of the race to give her time to acclimate at Del Mar and said she is up to the challenge.

“We believe in her and that she can compete with those horses,” he said. “It’s a tough test, not only Gamine, but Ce Ce and the rest of the group. They are very, very solid fillies. It’s not only Gamine.”

Overseas Horse Report

 

Excitement is really building in the international quarantine barns ahead of the opening day of Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday.

UK trainer George Boughey was once again trackside as Cachet (IRE) (Juvenile Fillies Turf) was one of the first horses to leave the quarantine barn accompanied by stablemate Thunder Love (GB) (Juvenile Turf Sprint). Both horses went through the starting gate before doing a light canter.

Boughey said, “The stage is now set, they both continue to be in great form so it’s all systems go for tomorrow.”

Teona (IRE) (Turf) looked in fantastic shape this morning watched by her trainer Roger Varian and race day jockey, David Egan. She worked a circuit of the turf track, which she did with ease.

Varian said, “That looked to go well. She’s picked up nicely so I’m very happy with that. She seems to be in great shape. She’ll have an easy time of it now before race day and I’m really looking forward to running her.”

Egan, who is having his first Breeders’ Cup ride Saturday said, “I’m very excited to be at my first Breeders’ Cup here in Del Mar. It’s my first time on the West Coast of America. It’s a great meeting to be part of. Teona looks really well. Today was the first morning she’s been on the turf, she looks a picture. She’s comfortable being led in hand with the pony and her workout went smoothly. I’m really looking to get on board her on Saturday in what is a great opportunity for me.”

Charlie Appleby’s six horses once again looked in fantastic shape on the track. They worked a circuit with William Buick riding Modern Games (IRE) (Juvenile Turf) who was slightly on his toes going onto the track, and James Doyle riding Master of The Seas (IRE) (MIle). Space Blues (IRE) (Mile) and Yibir (GB) (Turf) looked to work extremely well.

James Ferguson, another UK based trainer having his first Breeders’ Cup runner was on track to watch Mise En Scene (GB) (Juvenile Fillies Turf), who did a light canter in preparation for her run tomorrow, said, “It feels great to have a runner at the Breeders’ Cup. Everyone in the UK grows up watching this great event. It’s the final major flat meeting of the year and to have a runner here is just fantastic. It makes it even more special to have it for Sheikh Fahad and his Qatar Racing team who are big supporters of mine and big supporters of racing worldwide.

“Mise En Scene just had a nice light canter on the turf this morning before she runs tomorrow. She’s fresh and well and has handled the trip over nicely. She’s good to go. The race as you expect is very competitive but I think we’re bringing into the race some good form from back home, I think she’s got every chance.

“In terms of her draw out in 13, you play with the cards you have been dealt and there’s nothing which can be done so we’re all going to enjoy the week and hope she can overcome it. Oisin Murphy is a world class jockey so hopefully he can work his magic.”

Hugo Palmer’s three Breeders’ Cup runners Ocean Road (IRE) (Filly & Mare Turf), Dubawi Legend (IRE) (Juvenile Turf) and Hierarchy (IRE) (Juvenile Turf Sprint) had a canter around the turf. Oisin Murphy rode Hierarchy with James Doyle on board Dubawi Legend.

Murphy said, “Hierarchy is in great form, I’m expecting a big run tomorrow.”

German Derby winner Sisfahan (FR) (Turf) did a nice piece of work. His trainer Henk Grewe has not traveled to Del Mar but his wife Natasha has been overseeing his preparations and said, “I’m very happy with Sisfahan. He’s done nothing wrong since he landed in Del Mar and we’re all looking forward to Saturday.”

Acanella (GB) (Filly & Mare Turf) and Pearls Galore (FR) (Mile) exercised together which has been the case throughout the week. Paddy Twomey, trainer of Pearl Galore said, “She’s great, couldn’t be happier at this stage. She’s done nothing but please since she got here.”

Japanese horses Marche Lorraine (JPN) (Distaff), Matera Sky (Sprint) and Jasper Great (Juvenile) went through the starting gate before exercising and connections are happy with their training.

The Kevin Ryan duo, Emaraaty Ana (GB) (Turf Sprint) and Glass Slippers (GB) (Turf Sprint) both worked this morning up the stretch. Race day riders Andrea Atzeni and Tom Eaves both took the mounts.

Atzeni said, “It’s the first time I’ve ridden Emaraaty Ana since he’s been in Del Mar. He feels great and did a nice bit of work up the stretch which will put him ready for Saturday.

“I’m really looking forward to the ride. He’s a very good horse who I think has a big chance. I’m drawn in gate two next to Glass Slippers so hopefully we get some luck in running and are in the mix at the finish. Del Mar is a superb racetrack and I feel very lucky to be part of this great event.”

Aidan O’Brien’s seven horses did their usual regime of a trot to warm up then had a canter down the backstretch before working up the homestretch. As has been the case all week, Broome (IRE) (Turf) led the string. Love (IRE) (Filly & Mare Turf) was the standout of the Ballydoyle team this morning looking to be in great shape going into Saturday.

O’Brien said, “That’s great, they all had a little blow up the stretch there and that’ll put them spot on.”

Audarya (FR) (Filly & Mare Turf), Tarnawa (IRE) (Turf) and Great Max (IRE) (Juvenile Turf) were the final international horses to go out this morning. Audarya continues to impress in her training and physical appearance. Tom Fanshawe, assistant trainer to his father James said, “Unfortunately, my father hasn’t been able to make it over but I’m thrilled to be here representing the team. Geoffrey De La Sayette who looks after Audarya and is her work rider is thrilled with her and we’re very hopeful of a big run on Saturday.”

Tarnawa was extremely relaxed again this morning, really enjoying her exercise with ears pricked throughout.

Jasper Prince (Sprint) and Armor (GB) (Juvenile Turf Sprint) both stayed in the quarantine barns but connections reported all is well.

TURF

Acclimate – California-bred turf specialist Acclimate, whose front-running style proved successful in the 2019 Del Mar Handicap, will employ his “catch me if you can” tactics again Saturday in his attempt to capture the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Trainer Phil D’Amato shared, “We learned something about him the last time we ran in this race (also in 2019) … don’t try to get too cute with him. We tried to rate him and it didn’t work. He’s got one fast gear, so we’re just going to let him run and go as fast and as far as he’ll take us.” D’Amato added, “If anyone gets too close to us early, they’ll be going too fast.”

Acclimate demonstrated his staying power by capturing the 1 3/4m grass marathon San Juan Capistrano Handicap this year.

Thursday morning, the 7yo gelding galloped 1 1/2m under regular exercise jockey Roman Teshier.

Astronaut – Astronaut, never worse than second in six starts for trainer John Shirreffs, galloped 2m around the Del Mar main track this morning under Amy Vasco.  The 4yo Quality Road earned a berth in Saturday’s $4 Breeders’ Cup Turf with an upset victory in the Del Mar Handicap in his last outing.

Shirreffs was pleased with the colt’s post position (four) and indicated he’s coming up to the race very well.  “He seems to like this turf course and we know he can handle the distance,” Shirreffs said.  “He’s a very handy horse and has a good turn of foot.  That’s an advantage in such a large field.”

Domestic Spending (GB) – Klaravich Stables’ Turf 4-1 morning line second choice Domestic Spending (GB) has been withdrawn from the race by trainer Chad Brown.

“When I came in this morning, he unfortunately had some new and acute inflammation in his left fore,” Brown explained. “He’s sound, but I’m not comfortable with it and I want to do more diagnostics on this horse and it’s just unfortunate timing. We want to get him back to Kentucky and do some evaluation on this limb and see what’s causing it and how much time we need. The more I looked at it, the more I didn’t like where the inflammation is.”

Brown reported that his remaining Turf runners, 15-1 Rockemperor (IRE) and 6-1 Tribhuvan (FR), are on schedule for the $4 million race.

The scratch of Domestic Spending moves Belmont Derby Invitational-winning also-eligible Bolshoi Ballet (IRE) into the race.

Gufo – With a winning record of 53.8 percent, an in-the-money record of 100 percent and $1.2 million in earnings through 13 starts, Otter Bend Stables’ Gufo would be most owners’ horse of a lifetime. Remarkably, he is co-breeder and Otter Bend owner Stephen Cianelli’s first horse.

Cianelli bred the colt, who is a half-brother to multiple graded stakes winner and millionaire Hogy, with his friend John Little. He purchased Little’s share of the now 4yo colt and races him under the Otter Bend banner.

Trainer Christophe Clement developed Gufo into the winner of five stakes, two of them Grade 1. He earned his berth in the Turf with a victory in the Sword Dancer on Aug. 28 at Saratoga.

Clement’s longtime assistant Christophe Lorieul has handled Gofu at Del Mar this week. Thursday morning Lorieul sent Gofu out to gallop 1 ¼m.

“He looked good out there, powerful and strong,” Lorieul said. “He stood well at the wire. We schooled him (Wednesday) and he was very good.”

Gofu record shows that the son of Declaration of War is a game and dependable runner.

“He’s a picture of consistency,” Lorieul said. “He tries and that’s all you can ask. He tries every time.”

Even with his explosive, off-the-pace running style, Gofu sometimes presented problems for his jockeys, Joel Rosario is the regular rider now, figuring out positioning and timing.

“He’s got a great turn of foot to finish, but this year maybe not so much,” Lorieul said.

“We added blinkers, which helps Joel get him a little bit closer in races. Does it take his finish a little bit away? I don’t know. But he’s very consistent and tries every time.”

Gofu faces the biggest challenge of his career in the $4 million Turf, a race often dominated by European runners.

“It’s a tough task, obviously,” Lorieul said. “It’s the best of the best at the end of the year. It was a logical spot. He’s one of the top three turf horses in the U.S. Why not?”

United – LNJ Foxwoods United, a two-time participant in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the narrowly beaten runner-up in the 2019 running, was declared out of this Saturday’s race because of swelling on a suspensory.

Trainer Richard Mandella reported, “He’d shown a little swelling over the past four or five days, so we scanned the leg as a precaution and the result was negative.  Today, we gave him a good, strong gallop and the swelling returned.  We scanned him again and it was clean.  We’re not going to take any chances with him.”

Mandella continued, “He’s been going pretty steadily for the past two and a half years.  The good news is that we’ll just give him a rest and bring him back next year.”

The multiple stakes-winning 6yo gelding has earned more than $1.8 million.

MILE

Got Stormy – The ultra-consistent Got Stormy has made a great impression galloping all week s she prepares to make her third straight appearance in the Breeders’ Cup. She was second in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Mile and fifth last year in the Turf Sprint. She drew post 11 for her second start in the Mile.

“We would’ve liked a little better post, but you know, not bad,” Casse said. “She’s doing great. She’s settled in well since arriving Monday.”

Last year, following the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Got Stormy was sold for $2,750,000 to Spendthrift Farm and kept in training in 2021 with MyRacehorse coming on as a partner.  She is expected to be retired after Saturday’s race.

When asked if he thought the race would be bittersweet, Casse said “I don’t think so. I’m just happy that we got another chance and she’s been an awfully consistent mare for us. We knew at some point that she was going to go and do other things, we’re happy for that.”

In Love/Ivar – It took trainer Paulo Lobo almost two decades to get back to the Breeders’ Cup. Now, just a year after Ivar was a close fourth in the Mile, Lobo, 52, has returned to the race with Ivar and his stablemate, the fellow Brazilian-bred In Love.

Lobo debuted in the Breeders’ Cup in the 2002 Distaff with the brilliant filly Farda Amiga, who ended up second, five lengths behind Azeri, subsequently voted the older female champion and Horse of the Year. Farda Amiga won the 3yo filly title.

A fourth-generation trainer, Lobo ran his stable in the U.S. until 2010. He returned home to Brazil for a four-year stint, and returned to California in 2014. He has a 50-horse stable at Keeneland.

In Love and Ivar are 5yos owned by Bonne Chance Farm and Stud RDI. They both started their careers in Argentina in 2019 and were imported to the U.S. for the 2020 season. Ivar won the 2020 Shadwell Turf Mile at 14-1, a victory that carried him to the Mile. In Love won the same race in October, renamed the Keeneland Turf Mile, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Mile.

“After Ivar ran in the Breeders’ Cup we gave him some time off,” Lobo said. “He came back at Churchill Downs in May and after the race he had a little problem with him and we had to stop on him. He came back in the Keeneland Mile. He was a very good fourth. He had some trouble turning for home.”

Lobo said that though Ivar has finished off the board in both starts this year he is good form for the Mile.

“I think he’s going to improve,” Lobo said. “He should have finished second.”

Regular rider Joe Talamo will be up on Ivar. They will start from Post 7.

In Love ran well in his two starts in Kentucky last fall and was given the winter off from competition. Lobo said a try on the dirt in April was a failure. After a poor performance in the Wise Dan on June 26 they sent the gelded son of Agnes Gold to Arlington Park for what he felt was an easier spot.

“He won. He was running so well, but when he passed the horse on the inside and kind of waited on the horse,” Lobo said. “The second horse almost came back. We decided to put blinkers on him and this horse has won his next two races very easily.”

In Love picked up his first stakes win the TVG at Kentucky Downs in September and followed with the victory at Keeneland at 12-1.

Jockey Alex Achard, who has been up for In Love’s three straight wins, will make his Breeders’ Cup debut. Achard faces the challenge of starting from the outside in the field of 14.

Mo Forza – All systems are go for Mo Forza to finally make it to the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), per trainer Peter Miller. The son of Uncle Mo seeks his fourth graded stakes victory over the Del Mar grass surface and takes on some of Europe’s best on said home course. Owned by breeder Bardy Farm and OG Boss, he had an easy day on Thursday, two days out from the $2 million test.

“He’s doing great. He just had an easy gallop today.”

Mo Forza is the 5-1 second choice on the morning line and drew well in post six, which Miller called “ideal.”

Smooth Like Strait – Smooth Like Strait, either first or second in eight of his past nine starts —all Grade 1 or 2 stakes, galloped a strong 1 3/8m for trainer Michael McCarthy this morning ahead of Saturday’s $2 million Mile.  Admittedly, the 4yo will be facing a new level of competition in his first Breeders’ Cup start, yet his conditioner points to the colt’s consistency and ability to run over different turf courses with efficiency.

“He certainly doesn’t need to take his track with him,” McCarthy said. “That’s probably the best thing about him.  I thought his efforts in the Eddie Read Handicap (Del Mar), Turf Classic (Churchill Downs) and Shoemaker Mile (Santa Anita) were probably his best races, even though only one resulted in a victory.”

In analyzing Saturday’s race, McCarthy said, “If we found ourselves on the lead, that would be ideal, but races of this caliber are a little different, and it’s difficult to forecast how the race will shape up.”  Should Smooth Like Strait prevail, it would be McCarthy’s first Breeders’ Cup Championship win.

FILLY & MARE TURF

Chad Brown (My Sister Nat (FR), Pocket Square (GB)) – Trainer Chad Brown will seek a record-extending fifth winner of the Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf when he sends forth Peter Brant’s My Sister Nat and Juddmonte Farms’ Pocket Square in the 11-furlong, $2 million test.

My Sister Nat, a half to Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sottsass (FR) and 2018 Filly & Mare Turf champion Sistercharlie (IRE), will make her 21st and final start Saturday. She exits a good-looking victory over the same distance Oct. 3 in the Waya Stakes at Belmont. The daughter of Acclamation would become a millionaire with a top-three finish.

“She’s flirted with Grade 1 caliber horses in the past and this is going to be a good test for her,” Brown said. “I will say that she’s training extremely well and at age 6 she has come right back to her top form in her works and her last race was one of her best. I love the way she really finished off her race, finally. I think she’s sitting on a really good race for her finale and whether it’s good enough or not remains to be seen.”

Pocket Square came over from England and previous trainer Roger Charlton with a positive reputation and has made four stateside starts for Brown and team, winning on U.S. debut at Keeneland in April and then failing as the 5-2 favorite in the Just a Game on the Belmont Stakes undercard in June. The homebred daughter of up-and-coming stallion Night of Thunder (IRE) then disappointed again in the G1 Diana (both races won by Godolphin’s Althiqa-GB) before dropping in class and winning a Saratoga allowance and the Athenia Stakes at Belmont — both at 9f. The latter gave Brown the confidence to step up the five-time winner in trip and class.

“It’s a big test for her to step up to 11 furlongs,” Brown explained. “I actually didn’t think this about her when I first got her. I thought she would be a mile to a mile and an eighth type of filly, but now that we’re back on track with her after she lost her form in the summer when I jumped her up in class too quickly, which was my mistake, she’s showing what we thought of her.

“She’s a really top-quality horse over here in America, I think. It is an unknown and a bit of an experiment, but the way she finished her last two races, in particular, and the way she’s galloped out and the feedback I got from the jockey, it gives me confidence that she can stretch out a little bit. I think on the stretch-out, she’s going to be very forward and the race might work out for her, pace-wise.”

Going to Vegas – The connections of the aptly-named Going to Vegas are key participants of a get-rich-quick story that has turned a $50,000 claim into more than $600,000.  Now, in only three days, the daughter of Goldencents will be “rolling the dice,” seeking to add more to her career earnings by competing in the Filly and Mare Turf against 11 other distaff opponents. “This was certainly one of my better claims,” trainer Richard Baltas said.

Going to Vegas is riding the crest of a three-race winning streak.  “She’s feeling fabulous, just bucking and playing. Her work on the turf her Sunday was excellent,” Baltas said.  “She’s never run against these type of horses, but that’s our only question.  I’m not worried about the distance.”

Going to Vegas likely will be making her final start for Baltas as she is scheduled to be on a Kentucky-bound plane Sunday, win or lose, for the Fasig-Tipton sales ring.

Dogtag – Dogtag, conditioned by seven-time Breeders’ Cup winner Richard Mandella, galloped  1 1/2m over the main track today in anticipation of her berth in the Filly and Mare Turf on Saturday. The daughter of the prominent turf sire War Front completed her serious preparations Sunday with quick 5f workout timed in 58 1/5 on Sunday.

“It was meant to be quick, just to jazz her up a little bit,” Mandella said. “The distance (1 3/8m won’t be a problem.”

She will be handled by perennial Southern California riding champ Flavian Prat, whose only previous engagement on Dogtag resulted in victory.

TURF SPRINT

Extravagant Kid – Globetrotting Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint winner Extravagant Kid will seek his second top-level win on the global stage when the Brendan Walsh-conditioned star breaks from the outside post for the second consecutive year in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. The Florida-bred son of Kiss the Kid exits a good second in the Woodford, just as he did last year before closing resolutely to finish fourth in the Turf Sprint, traveling six-wide and losing by just a length.

Getting familiar with the local course, the earner of $1,674,733 worked 4f in 49.40 with  Goldikova (G2)-bound stablemate Zofelle (IRE). He seeks a victory for the first time since taking March’s Al Quoz in Dubai, but was an excellent third in the prestigious King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, but was then a disappointing 14th of 19 in the July Cup (G1) at Newmarket, three months prior to his Woodford run.

“We had a good easy gallop early (Thursday) morning and he had a great work the other day,” Walsh said of the DARRS Inc-owned charge. “I didn’t realize they went in the time they did because they looked like they were going an easy half. It’s always nice when they look like they’re going that easy and the time comes back even better.

“It has been a long year as far as traveling, but we gave him a good little break there when he came back from Newmarket,” he continued. “He just walked and jogged or a good month. He came back and ran a great race at Keeneland, which was nice to see since his run in the July Cup was below par and I don’t think he particularly liked the ground. Sometimes that happens. When you travel horses they sometimes run really well off the plane, like he did at Ascot, but at Newmarket, we never got any cover early and he over-raced a bit and that cost him at the end. Maybe he didn’t quite get home and may not have handled the track — who knows — but we had a good trip at Royal Ascot and he ran a huge race in the King’s Stand.

“He’s run plenty of five-furlong races and they’re going to go very fast, which will help him. He drew (post) 14 and was only beaten a length last year. I can’t see him being too far away. You can never underestimate him. He always seems to show up.”

With the Del Mar configuration, the outside post will be 12 in this year’s Turf Sprint.

Gear Jockey – Calumet Farm’s Gear Jockey galloped 1 1/2m under exercise rider Lyndsay Delello as he continued his preparation for Saturday’s $1 million Turf Sprint in which he is the 5-1 co-second choice on the morning line.

Gear Jockey has won two of three starts sprinting on the grass and will have Jose Lezcano aboard again Saturday.

“On paper, it looks like (trainer) Wesley (Ward) will go the front (with Golden Pal),” trainer Rusty Arnold said. “I’d like to be fourth or fifth early. Five-eighths is not his best distance, but we have got him as sharp as we can.”

Gear Jockey will train again Friday morning but likely not go to the track Saturday morning.

“If the race was later in the day, maybe I’d take him out,” Arnold said. “Usually his race is something like 5 in the afternoon but his race Saturday is shortly after noon (12:40).”

Wesley Ward (Arrest Me Red, Golden Pal, Kimari) – Trainer Wesley Ward has become synonymous with turf sprinters throughout the world, but will seek his first victory in his home country’s top race of said type when he starts Arrest Me Red, Golden Pal and Kimari in the 5f dash.

Lightly raced Pioneerof the Nile sophomore colt Arrest Me Red makes just his seventh start, but has won four times already, including a smart gate-to-wire victory in the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational on Oct. 2. An unproven type, the Lael Stables banner-bearer likely will have company up on the lead from his own stablemate, Golden Pal. He drew post five and is 12-1 on the morning line under John Velazquez.

“He ran well at Belmont and has an extra week of spacing because he went there instead of opening week at Keeneland,” Ward said of the Roy and Gretchen Jackson homebred. “He’s a big guy and has had some really nice works on a soft course there at Keeneland and he earned a 100 Beyer, which stamps him in numbers-wise in a race like this. I’m looking forward to him. He’s quick, but he’s not as fast as Golden Pal.”

Coolmore’s regally bred Golden Pal has long been considered one of the top sprinters anywhere in the world, especially after his eye-catching victory in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. This year, from three starts, he was a dominant victor of the Quick Call at Saratoga before disappointing with a seventh in York Racecourse’s Nunthorpe Stakes — his first try on a straight course and against older horses. He returned six weeks later to win the Woodford over Extravagant Kid at Keeneland on Oct. 9.

“The first step — he’s just gone,” Ward emphasized. “I don’t think anyone will be in front of him, but you never know in a race like this. He’s just so quick on his feet.

“He had me scratching my head in the Nunthorpe,” he continued. “He had run such a big race at Saratoga on his comeback and he got there with no issues getting to York. We drew a nice post and for me it was his race to lose. Frankie (Dettori) said he was there until he wasn’t. We scoped him and he scoped perfectly. I just don’t think it was his day, for whatever reason. Frankie said it was maybe the straight course that affected him, but I don’t see any excuse.

“The key with him is just that first step and getting out there. That’s where his advantage is. I would have preferred a little farther out than post three, but at least I’m not the one or the two. I don’t think there’s speed on the inside or outside of him, so that’s good.”

Barn favorite Kimari completes the trio and will carry the Ten Broeck Farm colors in a Breeders’ Cup race two years after finishing a flying fourth in the Juvenile Turf Sprint as the 5-2 second choice. A winner of the Madison Stakes last out in April over 7f on dirt, she returns to the grass for the first time since finishing third in the Music City Stakes at Kentucky Downs in September 2020. As a sophomore, three months prior, she was an excellent second in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and is expected to make one closing run in complementary fashion to her stablemates.

“I would have preferred to be in the Filly & Mare Sprint, but we would have needed a prep and there just wasn’t enough time. She won a Group 1 in her last start in the spring at Keeneland and we tried to get her ready for Saratoga in the summer and she was just a shade off in behind, so we just kind of erred on the side of caution and kept her jogging and got her back right again.

“We got her ready for this race and she’s plenty fit to go five-eighths of a mile on the grass,” Ward continued. “There wasn’t enough time to get her ready for seven-eighths on the dirt. The (post nine) draw is perfect. She will be able to just get away from there. She always comes away a little slow and (Joel) Rosario will be able to bide his time and come rolling home the last three-eighths is our plan.

“A lot of her future will depend on the owner. She’s never been as sound as she is now. She’s never run a bad race in her life and she was only once off the board when fourth in the Breeders’ Cup two years ago — and she probably should have won that with a better trip.”

JUVENILE TURF

Portfolio Company – Chad Brown-trained Portfolio Company looks to become the conditioner’s second Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner when the son of Longines Turf (G1) runner-up Kitten’s Joy and full-brother to millionaire Charming Kitten breaks from post 10 of 14 at 6-1 morning line odds. To be ridden by Flavien Prat, the bay colt was a $125,000 Fasig-Tipton Select Sale 2020 purchase and comes in off two seconds in stakes company — the With Anticipation on Sept. 1 and Pilgrim on Oct. 3.

“He’s very good and he’s training very well,” Brown said. “He reminds me of Public Sector, who’s on his way to being a very good Grade 1 horse. He’s a little keen and drew well for that kind of horse. He’s out in the clear there and I think he’s going to get a good forward trip.”

Brown’s lone previous winner from 13 starters in the 8f grass test was Structor in 2019.

Mackinnon – Carrying the best California form into the Juvenile Turf is Doug O’Neill-trained Mackinnon, who races for ERJ Racing, Madaket Stables and Dave Kenney. The $285,000 Fasig-Tipton March 2021 purchase enters off victories in the two local preps, the Del Mar Juvenile Turf and Zuma Beach — both over the same mile distance.

“He’s training well,” O’Neill said. “The six-hole seems like a good-enough position. Everyone’s really happy with that. When you’re talking about a race like this one where the Euros are obviously extremely tough, but his run the other day was European-ish in how he found another gear and showed an amazing turn of foot. We’re optimistic with him. He is still learning and has some maturing to do. It’s great having the continuity of Juan Hernandez, who is a tremendous rider, and as he gets to know him even more, I am hoping that we can keep continuing these good results.”

JUVENILE FILLIES TURF

Chad Brown (Consumer Spending, Haughty) – Chad Brown’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) duo of Consumer Spending and Haughty have impressed their conditioner as they prepare for their toughest test thus far in their short careers. Each had an easy jog Thursday morning, with Consumer Spending in company with Juvenile favorite Jack Christopher and Haughty later on in the morning.

Klaravich Stables’ Consumer Spending has started three times and enters off a one-sided victory in Laurel Park’s Selima Stakes on Oct. 2. Prior to that, she won in Saratoga maiden company by 4¼ lengths, making up for a runner-up effort on debut over the same turf course four weeks prior at short odds.

“She drew well (post seven of 14) and she’s performed well with three runs and three good performances, but my question is if she is fast enough to win this kind of race,” Brown said. “I haven’t seen a figure fast enough yet, but she is training really well and has done nothing wrong. I need to see her make a jump in figures.”

Brown seemed a bit more optimistic about the less-accomplished Haughty, who races for Bradley Thoroughbreds and partners. The daughter of Empire Maker flew home over good ground at Keeneland in maiden company last time, winning by 4 lengths. She had finished first one month prior in September, but was disqualified after veering in and was demoted to third by the judges.

“She is fast enough and has two wins, technically, but she doesn’t have the stakes experience,” Brown said. “Her figures are definitely in the ballpark of what it takes to win a race like this. Obviously, we’ve had success in this race and know what it takes and she’s already there with her numbers.”

JUVENILE TURF SPRINT

Wesley Ward (Averly Jane, Kaufymaker, Twilight Gleaming-IRE) – Wesley Ward is coming in hot as he attempts to win his third consecutive $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Not only does he send forth 5-2 morning line favorite Averly Jane, but he has two Royal Ascot alums with ample class to mix things up in 12-1 Kaufymaker and 4-1 co-second choice Twilight Gleaming (IRE).

Hat Creek Racing’s Averly Jane has been perfect and dominant in four starts, including three stakes victories. Even more impressive, the $35,000 Fasig-Tipton October bargain daughter of Midshipman has won over sloppy dirt, fast dirt and good turf. Her 86 Beyer Speed Figures from her past two runs—a 3-length win in the Indian Summer Stakes and 7¼-length win in the Skidmore Stakes — is a full five points higher than any runner in the field.

“Since her last race, we’ve just tried to keep her happy,” Ward said. “She’s had a couple nice works at Keeneland and we’re here and hopefully she runs as well as she did in her first four and we’ll be tough. It’s imperative that we get lucky and get out of the gate on a track like this.”

Gregory Kaufman’s Kaufymaker went to Royal Ascot’s open-company Coventry Stakes touted as Ward’s best chance to win any race of the Royal Meeting, but faltered to finish eighth, beaten 4 lengths in the straight 6f race. She returned to finish third over 6.5f in the Juvenile Sprint at Kentucky Downs — again taking on the boys —and then was second to Averly Jane in the Indian Summer, closing well from sixth. She cuts down in trip for the first time since winning her debut over 4.5f at Keeneland in April.

“I think she’s going to be much better at five furlongs than five and a half or six and I think that was a little bit of an issue at Ascot at that time of year,” Ward explained. “I thought she’d go the six at Ascot, but six at Ascot is more like seven-eighths or a mile here. She was right there on the lead and she folded. I thought going into that day that she would be my best chance to win a race. She got back here at Kentucky Downs and was third, but that was at six and a half.”

Stonestreet Stables’ Twilight Gleaming is unraced since winning August’s Prix de la Vallee d’Auge at Deauville and was a good second in Royal Ascot’s Queen Mary on June 16 prior to that. The daughter of National Defense has done little wrong with a record of 4-2-2-0 and is inspiring confidence in her conditioner.

“She’s going to run big,” he said. “She’s a runner and she’s got big spacing from France to here. She’s been clicking off in her works and has been working with Kimari. She’s ready.”

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