WISE DAN GOOD TO GO FOR BREEDERS’ CUP
Trainer Charlie LoPresti said reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan came out of his runner-up effort in Saturday’s Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) in good order and is pointing toward a defense of his title in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.
“Those were not ideal conditions yesterday,” LoPresti said of the race that came off the turf and was run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track after Keeneland was hit by 1½ inches of rain in less than two hours. “I was a little disappointed that he lost, but he never stopped trying and was gaining on the winner (Silver Max).”
Wise Dan, breaking from the outside post in the 10-horse field, was bumped going into the first turn, floated wide and raced far off the rail the entire race in finishing 1¼ lengths behind Silver Max.
“I looked at the Trakus (stats) after the race and it showed he ran 40 feet farther than the winner,” LoPresti said. “That computes to losing about four lengths.”
Owned by Morton Fink, Wise Dan will do the bulk of his training for the Breeders’ Cup here.
“We will make sure he is OK for the Breeders’ Cup and go out on the 29th (of October),” LoPresti said of a schedule that is similar to last year when Wise Dan shipped to California the middle of Breeders’ Cup week.
Finishing third, 3½ lengths behind Wise Dan was Willcox Inn, who earned $75,000 and pushed his career earnings past the million-dollar mark to $1,014,543. Trainer Mike Stidham was pleased with the effort from the 5-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday who races for Lael Stable and All In Stable.
“He’d just won the Washington Park Handicap (G3) on the Poly so it actually played in our favor to move to the Poly because he does not like soft turf, so I was hoping for it,” Stidham said, referring to Willcox Inn’s victory on Aug. 31 at Arlington Park. “(Jockey) James (Graham) sat back – they were going pretty fast up front. He kicked in and made a nice run down the stretch to pick up third money.”
Stidham said Willcox Inn is nominated to the Hagyard Fayette (G2) on closing day.
“We’ll look at that for sure,” he said.
WE MISS ARTIE WELL AFTER DIXIANA BREEDERS’ FUTURITY VICTORY
Byron Hughes, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, said Ken and Sarah Ramsey We Miss Artie came out of his victory in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1) very well and that the colt will remain at Keeneland for the near future. The victory earned We Miss Artie a berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on Nov. 2, but Hughes said no decision has been made as to whether We Miss Artie would run in the Juvenile or the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) on Nov. 1.
Regarding other starters in the race, trainer Ken McPeek said a decision would be made in the next few days regarding a possible Breeders’ Cup run by Shortleaf Stable’s Arctic Slope, who closed from last to finish third.
“Anytime you can run third in a race like that you have to be happy,” said McPeek, noting that Arctic Slope returned to Churchill Downs after the race.
Trainer Mark Casse said Conquest Stables’ Conquest Titan, the fifth-place finisher in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity as the third choice, came out of the race fine and returned to Churchill Downs, where he will be pointed to the $175,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 30.
BETTER LUCKY IN GOOD FORM AFTER FIRST LADY VICTORY
Godolphin Racing LLC’s Better Lucky held firm in a driving rain to emerge victorious in Saturday’s First Lady (G1) and came out of the race in good order, assistant trainer Josh Flores said. She will return to New York on Tuesday, where trainer Tom Albertrani will begin mapping out a plan for her next race.
“She’s happy as ever and pretty content,” Flores said about the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred Ghostzapper filly on Sunday morning. “I think she knows she won. She ate up everything last night. She seems happy.”
Ridden by Julien Leparaoux, Better Lucky was tucked in fourth place behind favorite Dayatthespa in the early going while Daisy Devine set the pace. Better Lucky moved three wide off the turn then held off Dayatthespa through the stretch to win.
“(The race unfolded) just like we thought it would,” Flores said. “We figured those three horses outside of us would get the jump on us early and then we’d be in the garden spot. Luckily that’s how it panned out and Julien gave us a great ride and it all worked out. She ran huge. Dayatthespa came at her midway through the stretch but she battled back and toughed it out.”
Torrential rain began falling at Keeneland about 20 minutes before post time and was so heavy during the race that Albertrani, who was watching from Belmont Park, couldn’t get a clear view on television. However, Keeneland’s in-house HD cameras and television allowed Flores to keep a keen eye on Better Lucky.
“It’s been awhile (since I’ve seen conditions like that),” Flores said. “Thank God for the HD cameras here at Keeneland. I had people calling from Belmont saying they couldn’t see anything.”
The connections of Dayatthespa were extremely pleased with the filly’s effort. Co-owner Pete Bradley Tweeted: “So proud of our girl! She ran her heart out to finish such a game 2nd in the pouring rain. Better Lucky is one nice filly.”
Bradley’s Bradley Thoroughbreds owns Dayatthespa with Jerry Frankel, Ron Frankel and Steve Laymon. The filly is trained by Chad Brown, whose Keeneland assistant, Baldo Hernandez, reported she was well on Sunday morning and would return to New York on Thursday.
Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Say (IRE), sixth as the second choice in the First Lady, has an invitation to run back Saturday in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) against 3-year-old fillies.
“We should know much more today (about the QE II),” said T.J. Comerford, head traveling lad for trainer Aidan O’Brien. “She will go back to the track for light exercise tomorrow. I don’t think she ran too bad. I just think she needs firm ground like her mother (Riskaverse, the winner of the 2002 QE II).”
OWNER-TRAINER WARD SAVORS TCA VICTORY BY JUDY THE BEAUTY
Wesley Ward was all smiles Sunday morning following the first graded stakes victory by his Judy the Beauty in Saturday’s Thoroughbred Club of America (G2).
“The filly is doing good and the owner-trainer is doing better,” Ward said. “This is her home track and that home-court advantage is big in all sports.”
Never worse than third in 11 previous starts, Judy the Beauty had placed in six graded stakes before breaking through Saturday under John Velazquez, who rode her for the first time.
“She ran very well for Johnny,” Ward said. “The mount is his for as long as he wants it.”
The victory earned Judy the Beauty a berth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) to be run Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Ward said Judy the Beauty will do all of her major preparation for the Breeders’ Cup here.
“Last year, I shipped her out to Hollywood Park two weeks early,” Ward said. “She worked in :59, but she bled and I shipped her back home the next day. I like to ship in right on top of the race, so we will stay here and go on the last plane out there (the week of the Breeders’ Cup).”
GROUPIE DOLL REMAINS ON TRACK FOR REPEAT BREEDERS’ CUP RUN
Trainer and part-owner Buff Bradley said champion Groupie Doll returned to Churchill Downs after finishing third in Saturday’s Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) and remains on track to defend her title in the seven-furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
“She’s tired, but she had to run the whole way yesterday,” Bradley said of Groupie Doll, who finished 1¾ lengths behind Judy the Beauty. “That was not her typical race yesterday. Usually she is just getting started the first quarter of a mile, but yesterday she was in against a couple of Polytrack professionals (in Judy the Beauty and Gypsy Robin).
“I was more concerned about yesterday’s race than the Breeders’ Cup,” he added. “Six furlongs is not her best distance and I think she is better on dirt. She shows brilliance on the dirt and on the Polytrack, she has run some good races and won a Grade 1 and a Grade 2 there.”
Bradley has scheduled one work for Groupie Doll on Saturday, Oct. 19 and plans to ship her to Santa Anita on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
WOODFORD WINNER HAVELOCK’S NEXT START BEING DETERMINED
Silverton Hill’s homebred Havelock became a three-time graded stakes winner at Keeneland Saturday with his last-to-first run to win the 5½-furlong Woodford Presented by Keeneland Select (G3) for the second time.
“He is doing well this morning,” trainer Darrin Miller said of Havelock, who returned to the Trackside Training Center in Louisville after his victory. “He just loves Keeneland.”
Saturday’s victory enabled Havelock to join Silver Timber in 2010 as the only horse to win the Shakertown (G3) and Woodford in the same year.
Miller said a decision on a possible Breeders’ Cup run at 6½ furlongs for Havelock rests with owners Bonnie and Tommy Hamilton. Havelock finished 14th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs in 2011 when the race was run at five furlongs.
“There are not a lot of races for him here and I won’t run him five-eighths at Churchill,” Miller said. “We’ve tried that before.”
Hit The Board Stables’ I’m Already Sexy, the gate-to-wire winner of the Pucker Up (G3) in her most recent start for trainer Wayne Catalano, tuned up for a run in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) by working five furlongs on the main track in :59.20. Fractions for the work were :12.80, :24.40, :36.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.40.