Weekend Lineup Presented By HIWU: Two Major Classic Preps On Offer

There will be five Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In races scheduled for this Saturday, Sept. 2, highlighted by a pair of contests offering automatic starting positions to the $6 million Classic.

One Classic prep is offered on each coast: the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York, and the $1 million FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar in Del Mar, Calif.

Proxy and Rattle N Roll are the New York headliners, while 3-year-olds Geaux Rocket Ride and Arabian Knight take on nine other rivals on the West Coast.

Saratoga will also host the Flower Bowl (G2), which provides the winner a free spot into the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Then, 2-year-olds are in the spotlight at The Spa on Sunday and Monday in the G1 Spinaway and G1 Hopeful.

Also at Del Mar on Saturday, the winner of the Del Mar Handicap presented by Japan Racing Association (G2) will gain an automatic starting position into the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), and the winner of the Green Flash Handicap (G3) will earn a “Win and You’re In” for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Saturday and Sunday will also feature live racing action from Kentucky Downs’ boutique grass meet.


6:18 p.m. – Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga

Grade 1 winner Proxy will make his Empire State debut in Saturday’s $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup going 10 furlongs. Proxy, a son of Tapit, is a six-time winner over four different ovals and enters from a victory in the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup on July 22 going nine furlongs, where he led from start-to-finish.

Trainer Kenny McPeek will saddle Grade 1 winner Rattle N Roll, who was last seen posting a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster on July 1 at Ellis Park. The 4-year-old Connect colt earned his Grade 1 accolade in his stakes debut, when conquering the Breeders’ Futurity in October 2021 at Keeneland. He entered the Stephen Foster from a string of three graded stakes triumphs over as many racetracks, each of which produced a triple-digit Beyer. Rattle N Roll captured the Grade 3 Ben Ali on April 22 at Keeneland [101] before shipping to Pimlico Race Course to take the 1 3/16-mile Grade 3 Pimlico Special on May 19 [101], followed by a triumph in the Grade 3 Blame on June 3 at Churchill Downs [100].

Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher will seek his second Jockey Club Gold Cup triumph when saddling Bright Future [post 8, Javier Castellano]. Bright Future defeated second-level winners by 4 3/4 lengths last out on July 21 traveling nine furlongs over the local going, where he earned a career-high 100 Beyer. The three-time winning son of Hall of Fame inductee Curlin, who won the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2007-08, made his lone stakes performance in the Grade 2 Brooklyn on June 10 going 12 furlongs at Belmont Park. He finished a distant eighth in his lone off-the-board placing.

Trainer Josie Carroll will bring a pair of formidable contenders by way of Canada in last out graded stakes-winners Tyson [post 6, Manny Franco] and Duke of Love [post 7, Luis Contreras].

Completing the field are Grade 2 Suburban second and third-place finishers Clapton [post 5, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Unbridled Bomber [post 2, Dylan Davis], as well as three-time winning stakes-placed Warrior Johny [post 3, Junior Alvarado].

Jockey Club Gold Cup Entries

6:28 p.m. – Grade 3 Mint Millions Stakes at Kentucky Downs

The first stakes offering a $2 million purse in Kentucky Downs history is all set as the Grade 3 mile Mint Millions headlines Saturday’s 11-race card at the FanDuel Meet.

A capacity field of 12 older horses was entered in the Mint Millions, with California-based multiple graded-stakes winner Cabo Spirit expected to scratch out of Thursday’s opening-day $500,000 FanDuel Tapit Stakes to run for the bigger money. Money talks, and the Mint Millions attracted the entry of British’s Group 1-placed Ancient Rome, trained by Charlie Hills with European standout jockey Jamie Spencer named to ride.

Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher entered Annapolis, winner of last year’s Grade 1 Coolmore Turf Mile against older horses, in what would be a three-week turnaround from the colt’s close second in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Fourstardave.

Among the favorites for the Mint Millions figures to be the Greg Foley-trained Stitched, winner of the Grade 2 Wise Dan held at Ellis Park.

Kentucky Downs’ all-time leading trainer Mike Maker, who finished 1-2 in the last year’s stakes with Somelikeithotbrown and Atone, comes back with Atone and adds Max K. O.

Winning the Ellis Park prep to earn a fees-paid berth in the Mint Millions was the Rodolphe Brisset-trained Hozier, who in his prior start was a very good fourth in the Grade 2 Wise Dan run at Ellis Park.

At age 8, Gray’s Fable is back for another crack at the Mint Millions. The gelding finished a close fifth last year race after winning the prep race at Ellis Park. He returned to the Kentucky Downs Preview Mint Millions four weeks ago, rallying to finish fourth but beaten 1 1/4 lengths.

Others entered in the Mint Millions: multiple Grade 1-placed Get Her Number as trainer Peter Miller ships in from California, Saratoga’s Lure winner Smokin’ T, Canadian-based Churchtown and Dhabab.

Mint Millions Entries

9:00 p.m. – Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar

A pair of 3-year-olds – Geaux Rocket Ride and Arabian Knight – were on top of the list for the Pacific Classic’s morning line with the former – winner of the $1-million Haskell Stakes vs. 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park in New Jersey last out on July 22 – penciled in as the favorite at 5-2 and his 3-year-old rival, who finished third in the Haskell, next in line at 3-1.

Geaux Rocket Ride, who will be ridden once again by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, drew Post 1, while “Knight” has Del Mar’s former top rider, Flavien Prat, in the tack and they’ll start from Post 9.

The third soph – Skinner, stakes-placed in his last three outings – is 10-1 in the morning line and he and rider Hector Berrios will come out of Post 11.

The top threat among the older runners in the bunch is also trained by Baffert in Defunded, a four-time Graded stakes winner who will go off at 4-1 in the morning line under Del Mar’s top rider, Juan Hernandez.

Besides its rich purse and Grade 1 prestige, the Pacific Classic is also a “Win and You’re In” race for this year’s $6,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be contested at Santa Anita on Saturday, November 4. The Pacific Classic winner is guaranteed a spot in the starting gate for the country’s richest race with all fees paid for entry.

Pacific Classic Entries


5:10 p.m. – Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga

Brightwork brings a perfect 3-for-3 record into Sunday’s $300,000 Spinaway for 2-year-old fillies going seven furlongs. Brightwork, by fourth-crop sire Outwork, announced her presence as a major force to be reckoned with in the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 3 Adirondack on August 6 at Saratoga. She stalked a swift pace in between horses from third down the backstretch before tipping out wide around the far turn en route to an easy five-length score.

Four-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Chad Brown will send out highly impressive maiden winner Ways and Means. Jockey Flavien Prat, who retains the mount from post 8, was described as “poised like a statue in the irons” by the Equibase chart as Ways and Means strolled home a 12 3/4-length winner while earning a 90 Beyer for the win.

Hall of Famer Bill Mott will saddle Sugar Hi [post 3, Junior Alvarado], who impressed in her Opening Day debut at the Spa with a six-length win. The daughter of Twirling Candy earned an 80 Beyer from her first-out graduation going 5 1/2 furlongs, where she sat a close second off a pace set by returning rival Lady Moscato before dueling with her foe in upper stretch and kicking clear to victory.

Trainer Kenny McPeek will saddle Wonder Ride [post 7, Julien Leparoux] following a winning debut on August 13 at Saratoga. There, the daughter of leading third-crop stallion Gun Runner rated a close third down the backstretch and won by a half-length in an effort which garnered a 72 Beyer.

Gary Contessa, who trained 2018 Spinaway winner Sippican Harbor, will send out Becky’s Joker [post 5, Javier Castellano], who won her career debut at 21-1 odds in Opening Day’s Grade 3 Schuylerville going six furlongs. There, Becky’s Joker raced from one length off the pace down the backside and pounced to a 3 1/4-length score. The daughter of Practical Joke was a lackluster seventh in the last out Grade 3 Adirondack, where she finished 15 1/4 lengths back off Brightwork.

Hall of Famer and three-time Spinaway winner Steve Asmussen will saddle Closing Act [post 4, Jose Lezcano] following a third-place finish in the Schuylerville. The Texas homebred Munnings chestnut previously captured the Astoria on June 11 at Belmont Park following a triumphant neck score on debut on May 11 at Churchill Downs.

Completing the field are Miz Sense [post 1, Manny Franco] for Hall of Famer and six-time Spinaway winner Todd Pletcher; Lady Moscato [post 2, John Velazquez] for Hall of Famer and six-time Spinaway winner D. Wayne Lukas; the Tom Amoss-trained Alys Beach [post 6, Dylan Davis]; and Lemorian [post 10, Fernando De La Cruz] for conditioner Michelle Elliott.

Spinaway Entries

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