Fall Stars Surprises

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By Claire Novak, photos by Anne Eberhardt Keogh

LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 6, 2013) -- Fall Stars weekend brought a bevy of surprises as favorites were felled in the major races and a record rainfall pelted Keeneland on the afternoon of Oct. 5. While reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan finished second to Silver Max in an off-the-turf edition the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. II) and 2012 Eclipse Award-winning female sprinter Groupie Doll ran third behind Judy the Beauty and Gypsy Robin in the $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (gr. II), both trainers of the respective champions -- as well as the trainers of their upsetters -- said it’s now full steam ahead to the Nov. 1-2 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park.


Silver Max wins the Shadwell under jockey Robby Albarado.

Trainer Charlie LoPresti said Morton Fink's homebred Wise Dan came out of his runner-up effort in good order and wil point toward a defense of his record-setting title in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

“Those were not ideal conditions yesterday,” LoPresti said. “I was a little disappointed that he lost, but he never stopped trying and was gaining on the winner.”

The Shadwell came off the turf and was run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track after Keeneland was hit by 1 ½ inches of rain in less than two hours. 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 before 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.”


Elaine and Morton Fink weather the storm in the Keeneland paddock.

Wise Dan will do the bulk of his training for the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.

“We will make sure he is OK for the Breeders’ Cup and go out on the 29th (of October),” LoPresti said.

The schedule is similar to last year, when Wise Dan shipped to California the middle of Breeders’ Cup week.

Although the Shadwell lost Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” status when it was taken off the turf, trainer Dale Romans said Silver Max will still go to the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

“He earned his way in,” Romans said of the 4-year-old Badge of Silver colt who races for Mark Bacon and Dana Wells. “We’re just going to have to pay for it.”

Enjoying the spotlight on Saturday were Bacon’s towheaded youngsters, Max and Olivia. The former, 11, now has a prime Breeders’ Cup contender racing who bears his name.


Max Bacon, who named Silver Max, enjoys the Shadwell win.

Buff Bradley also reported Groupie Doll will be pointed toward another run in the Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) despite her third place finish in the six-furlong TCA. Groupie Doll came into the race off a victory in the Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II) and was third in the Gardenia (gr. III) at Ellis Park after getting her season started late this year.

“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.

“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.”

Bradley has scheduled one work for Groupie Doll on Saturday, Oct. 19 and plans to ship her to Santa Anita on Tuesday, Oct. 22.


Groupie Doll en route to the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes.

Wesley Ward was all smiles Sunday morning following the first graded stakes victory by his 4-year-old Judy the Beauty in the TCA. Ward owns the Ontario-bred Ghostzapper filly and trains her as well.

“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 Hall of Fame jockey 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 Filly & Mare Sprint; she will do all of her major preparations for the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.

***

Opening Day was a success for Unlimited Equine and trainer Tevis McCauley when their Chinchero, a compact chestnut Even the Score filly, took Race 4 by three lengths. The sophomore may be a modest runner, but she made the move from a third at Indiana Downs on Sept. 18 to take down eight others in the 6 ½ furlong sprint on Keeneland’s Polytrack. Stay tuned for an online feature on the McCauley program.

***

Racing resumes Wednesday at Keeneland, where the $150,000 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (gr. IIIT) will be contested as Race 8 of nine with an approximate post time of 4:49 p.m. EDT. The Jessamine drew a field of 10 2-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, which hopefully will have dried out by then. In this race, Ward has Richies Party Girl, a daughter of Any Given Saturday who interestingly broke her maiden at Belmont Park on July 4, went to Deauville to run fourth in the Aug. 17 Prix du Calvados (Eng-III), and returned to narrowly take a Sept. 7 Churchill Downs allowance going a mile on the lawn.

***

Looking ahead to Saturday, Hit The Board Stables has Pucker Up Stakes (gr. IIIT) victress I’m Already Sexy in deep in the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. IT). The Wayne Catalano trainee tuned up for a run in the 1 1/8 mile turf event on the morning of Oct. 6 with a five-furlong move on the main track in :59.20. Fractions for the work were :12.80, :24.40, :36.60, with a six-furlong gallop out in 1:12.40.

Grade I stakes winners Alterite and Discreet Marq top the list of 12 sophomore fillies extended invitations for the 30th running of the QEII. Alterite, group I-placed in France, won the Garden City (gr. IT) at Belmont Park on Sept. 14 in her U.S. debut. Alterite is trained for Martin Schwartz by Chad Brown, who won last year’s QE II with Dayatthespa. Discreet Marq won the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) for Patricia Generazio before finishing second to Alterite in the Garden City. Also the winner of the Sands Point (gr. IIT), Discreet Marq is trained by Christophe Clement, who won the 1994 QE II with Danish.

Other graded or group winners extended invitations include Joyce Young’s Caroline Thomas, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Kitten’s Dumplings, Melnyk Racing Stables’ Leigh Court, Sycamore Racing’s Nellie Cashman, Wertheimer and Frere’s Sarach, Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Say, and Glen Hill Farm’s Wishing Gate.

Rounding out the invitees are Andrew Stone’s Concise and Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Topaze Blanche.

No previous QE II winner has produced a QE II winner, but two of this year’s invitees are daughters of race winners. Riskaverse, winner of the 2002 renewal, is the dam of Say, who ran sixth in Saturday’s First Lady Stakes (gr. IT). Bit of Whimsy, winner of the 2007 race, is the dam of Caroline Thomas.

Entries for the QEII will be drawn Wednesday, Oct. 9.

1 Comment

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ksweatman9

Every horse is beatable on any given day. History has taught us that lesson repeatedly. As much as I admire Steve, I was left with the gut feeling that his last blog somehow may have jinxed the mighty Wise Dan. A cardinal rule in this game is to never utter the word "unbeatable". Sure as heck, the racing gods will make you regret it. We must from time to time be reminded that our equine heroes are merely flesh and blood. I hope Danny Boy just had an off day and that he'll be back on his game at the BC. As for Groupie Doll, she was fabulous last year, but like many other talented fillies, she's lost some of that magic. I sill love her. Knowing that anything is possible in this sport serves to make the victories and successes sweeter. Nothing should ever be taken for granted in this game.

06 Oct 2013 8:29 PM

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