Even though the Breeders’ Cup is nearly 3 months away, this has been a great week for watching some of the main contenders prep for their respective divisions.
Stacelita: Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf
On Saturday Stacelita won the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park which is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Stacelita pulled off her victory by saving ground behind top turf runners Dubawi Heights and Never Retreat to win by hugging the rail when the field was turning for home. Though Stacelita is a French-bred mare who has raced against the best in Europe including Goldikova, Midday, and Sea the Stars – she isn’t without any US connections. Her owner Martin Schwartz is a New York based investment banker who won the Beverly D. back-to-back in 2005 and 2006. Because she has been in the US for longer than some of the other horses who will be favored in the Filly and Mare Turf, she may have a slight advantage over the late shippers. However, a face off against the likes of Midday will be no walk in the park for this experienced race mare.
Cape Blanco: Breeders’ Cup Turf
Second only in purse money to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Breeders’ Cup Turf is one of the most sought after victories in the world of thoroughbred horse racing. Cape Blanco, with Jamie Spencer in the irons, convincingly beat Gio Ponti and other challengers in Saturday’s Arlington Million, thus earning an automatic slot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Many horseplayers who backed Gio Ponti as the 2-1 co-favorite were not pleased with his lackluster performance, being beat 2 ½ lengths by the victorious Cape Blanco, who also went to post at 2-1 odds. The final odds were also a bit surprising considering that Cape Blanco beat Gio Ponti by a similar margin only a month ago in the Man o’War Stakes at Belmont Park.
The yielding turf course certainly must have been a factor in Cape Blanco’s win, as European horses regularly prefer a softer grass course than the dry beat up sod that most US turf races are run over.
Unzip Me: Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
On the West Coast, Unzip Me was a strong winner in the Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar for fillies and mares. This has her connections confident that another attempt in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint will be in the cards for this 5-year-old mare. Last year she managed third in the Turf Sprint, in what is always a hard race to handicap. Considering she has already had the experience of running over the Churchill Turf Course in this BC event, Unzip Me will be one to watch out for in November. Look out for Unzip Me to make her next start in the Ken Maddy Handicap at Santa Anita on Sept. 30 before heading to Kentucky.