Led by Whitney (G1) winner McKinzie, Travers Stakes (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner Code of Honor, standout filly Midnight Bisou, multiple Grade 1-winning turf star Bricks and Mortar, and Qipco Champions Stakes (G1) winner Magical (IRE), 188 horses, including 47 from overseas, have been pre-entered for the 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
The 36th Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious two-day global event, consisting of 14 races with purses and awards totaling more than $30 million, will be held for a record 10th time at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, on Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2. There will be five Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Friday and nine Breeders’ Cup races on Championship Saturday.
The Breeders’ Cup will be televised live by NBCSN and NBC. The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic will be broadcast live on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 8:44 p.m. ET on NBC.
Among the statistical highlights in this year’s pre-entries are:
There are 50 individual horses pre-entered after qualifying for automatic starting positions through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
Irish-based trainer Aidan O’Brien has pre-entered 17 horses, the most among trainers.
The Coolmore partnerships lead all owners with 18 horse pre-entered.
The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), the climactic event of the Championships, will be run on the main track at 1 ¼ miles with a first-place owner’s prize of $3.3 million with purse payouts down to eighth place.
On 13 occasions, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic also has been named the Horse of the Year, and this year’s Classic will once again have ramifications on the coveted year-end title. The race features a battle of West Coast star McKinzie, trained by Bob Baffert, and the leading horse from the East Coast in Code of Honor – the top two rated stars in the final Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings for this year.
McKinzie Likely Classic Favorite
This year, the 4-year-old McKinzie, owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, has won the Alysheba Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs and earned an automatic berth into the Classic by winning the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga in August. A son of the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Street Sense, McKinzie also was second in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park, and was runner-up in the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita on Sept. 28. McKinzie is trained by Bob Baffert, who won an unprecedented three consecutive runnings of the Classic (2014-2016) with Bayern, American Pharoah and Arrogate. McKinzie finished 12th in last year’s Classic at Churchill Downs.
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William S. Farish’s 3-year-old Code of Honor, trained by Shug McGaughey, has come on strong during the second half of the year. Following a runner-up finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Code of Honor won the Dwyer Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park and swept to a three-length win in the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. In his most recent start, he was second to Vino Rosso in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont but was awarded first place because of interference in the stretch. Code of Honor earned an automatic Breeders’ Cup Challenge berth with his Gold Cup win.
Additional intrigue for the Classic is brought to the forefront with the pre-entry of Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s 5-year-old mare Elate. Seeking to be the first female to win the Classic since Zenyatta in 2009, Elate has won at the 1 ¼-mile Classic distance three times in her career. This year, the bay daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has won both the Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs and the Delaware Handicap (G2). Elate is trained by Bill Mott, who saddled Breeders’ Cup Classic winners Cigar in 1995 and Drosselmeyer in 2011.
Grade 1 winners abound in this year’s Classic field, including East Coast invader Vino Rosso for Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable. A 4-year-old son of 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Curlin, Vino Rosso, trained by Todd Pletcher, has a win over the track, taking the 1 ¼-mile Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) in May. He was third in the Whitney behind McKinzie and crossed the line first in the Jockey Club Gold Cup before being placed second.
Hronis Racing’s 4-year-old Higher Power earned an automatic berth into the Classic with a rousing 5 ¼-length win in the TVG Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar on Aug. 17. Trained by John Sadler, who won last year’s Classic with Accelerate, Higher Power finished third in the Awesome Again Stakes.
The surprising winner of the 1 1/8-mile Awesome Again was 25-1 Mongolian Groom, who swept by odds-on favorite McKinzie at the top of the stretch and powered home to a 2 ¼-length victory. Owned by Mongolian Stable and trained by Enebish Ganbat, Mongolian Groom won his first career graded-stakes race, and earned an automatic berth into the Classic with his Awesome Again triumph. He had finished fifth in the Woodward (G1) and third in the Pacific Classic in his two previous starts.
Another Classic starter who shocked the racing world on the East Coast is the Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained 3-year-old Math Wizard, who came from far off the pace to claim the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx Racing in September at 31-1. Preakness Stakes (G1) winner War of Will, Seeking the Soul, who captured the “Win and You’re In” Stephen Foster (G2); Yoshida (JPN), second in the Whitney, and Owendale, winner of the Ohio Derby (G3) and Oklahoma Derby (G3), also have been pre-entered for the Classic.
Midnight Bisou Tops Longines Distaff
The $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), run at 1 1/8 miles, has its own Horse of the Year candidate in Bloom Racing, Madaket Stable, and Allen Racing’s Midnight Bisou, who is perfect in seven starts this year for trainer Steve Asmussen. The 4-year-old daughter of two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Midnight Lute owns two “Win and You’re In” Distaff victories, taking Belmont Park’s Ogden Phipps (G1) in June and Saratoga’s Personal Ensign (G1) in August. She also defeated Elate in Oaklawn Park’s Apple Blossom (G1) in April. Midnight Bisou, who is 12-for-18 lifetime, coasted to a 3 ½-length triumph in her most recent start, the Beldame (G2) at Belmont Park on Sept. 28.
The main threats to Midnight Bisou, should come from four Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners, starting with Merriebelle Stable’s Blue Prize (ARG), who repeated in Keeneland’s
Oct. 6 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) for trainer Ignacio Correas IV. Blue Prize was a close fourth in last year’s Distaff. Paul and Karen Eggert’s homebred Ollie’s Candy won Del Mar’s Clement L. Hirsch (G1) in July for trainer John Sadler; HS Stables and Pam and Marty Wygod’s Paradise Woods earned a berth when she won Santa Anita’s Zenyatta Stakes (G2) on Sept. 29 for trainer John Shirreffs, and Ray Francis, Cindy Jones, and trainer Larry Jones, Medallion Racing and MyRaceHorse Stable’s 3-year-old filly Street Band, who captured the “Win and You’re In” Cotillion (G1) at Parx Racing on Sept. 21.
The $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at 1 ½ miles is led by the Chad Brown-trained Bricks and Mortar, unbeaten in five starts this year. The 5-year-old Bricks and Mortar, owned by Klaravich Stable and William H. Lawrence, is also very much in the Horse of the Year picture, as the son of Giant’s Causeway has Grade 1 wins in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park, the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, the Manhattan at Belmont Park and the “Win and You’re In” Arlington Million at Arlington Park in his most recent start in August.
Aidan O’Brien has pre-entered Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Anthony Van Dyck (IRE), winner of the Investec English Derby (G1) and third in Champion Stakes.
Also from Europe is Godolphin’s Old Persian (GB), who was shipped to Canada and won Woodbine’s Northern Dancer (G1) on Sept. 14 for trainer Charlie Appleby. Old Persian also won the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at Meydan in March.
Other top U.S. based starters pre-entered for the Turf are the Ellwood Johnson Trust and Timmy Time Racing’s Acclimate, who earned a berth into the Turf when he won the “Win and You’re In” Del Mar Handicap (G2) in August for trainer Phil D’Amato, and Donegal Racing’s Arklow, who won Belmont Park’s Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) on Oct. 5.
Contention Runs Deep in TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile
A total of 22 horses have been pre-entered for the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) on turf, five of whom earned automatic berths through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
Agave Racing Stable, ERJ Stable and Madaket Stable’s Bowies Hero, a 5-year-old son of 2005 Mile winner Artie Schiller, won the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 5 for trainer Phil D’Amato, while Sam-Son Farm’s El Tormenta won the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1) Sept. 14 for trainer Gail Cox, and Gary Barber’s Got Stormy, a 4-year-old daughter of Get Stormy, won Saratoga’s Fourstardave (G1) in August for trainer Mark Casse. Golden Pegasus Racing’s 7-year-old gelding Bolo won the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita in May.
The European contingent is led by Flaxman Holdings Limited, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s 3-year-old Circus Maximus (IRE), who scored Group 1 wins in the St. James’s Palace at Royal Ascot and in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp in September. Mrs. C.C. Regalado-Gonzalez’s Iridessa (IRE) also has two Group 1 wins this year, taking the Juddmonte Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh in June and the Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes at Leopardstown for trainer Joseph O’Brien. Elwick Stud’s 6-year-old gelding Lord Glitters (FR) also won at Royal Ascot, earning an automatic berth into the Mile by capturing the Queen Anne Stakes (G1). Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Line of Duty (IRE) finished third in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp and was third in the Qatar Prix Dollar (G2) at ParisLongchamp on Oct. 5.
Sistercharlie and Magical Loom Large to Repeat in Filly & Mare Turf
Peter Brant’s 2018 Champion Turf Female Sistercharlie (IRE) looks to repeat in the 1 ¼-mile, $2 million Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf (G1). She has won all three of her starts this year for trainer Chad Brown, who has saddled four winners of the Filly & Mare Turf. Sistercharlie, a 5-year-old daughter of Myboycharlie (IRE), is 10 of 14 lifetime. She was brought back slowly by Brown this year, winning in the Diana (G1) at Saratoga in July, the Beverly D. (G1) at Arlington Park in August and the Flower Bowl (G1) at Belmont Park on Oct. 6. The latter two were both “Win and You’re In” automatic qualifiers for the Filly & Mare Turf.
Sistercharlie will face a tall task, though, against Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s 4-year old filly Magical (IRE), who has captured three Group 1 races this year, including the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh, the “Win and You’re In” Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown and Qipco Champions Stakes at Ascot last Saturday. Magical finished second to Enable (GB) in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf.
The top two finishers from the “Win and You’re In” Prix de l’Opera Longines (G1) on Oct. 5 at ParisLongchamp also have been pre-entered: the race winner, Sarl Darpat France’s 3-year-old Villa Marina (GB), for trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias, and Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s runner-up, Fleeting (IRE), trained by Aidan O’Brien.
Mitole, Imperial Hint lead the Sprint
Among the other races on the Championships program is a projected showdown in the six- furlong $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) between Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Mitole and Ray Mamone’s Imperial Hint. Mitole won Belmont Park’s Metropolitan Handicap (G1) in June and Saratoga’s Forego (G1) on Aug. 24, while the 6-year-old Imperial Hint captured the “Win and You’re In” Vosburgh (G1) Sept. 28, and prior to that, broke a Saratoga track record when he won the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) in July.
The seven-furlong, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) is headlined by LNJ Foxwood’s Covfefe, winner of the Test (G1) at Saratoga for trainer Brad Cox, and Blue Devil Racing Stable’s Ballerina (G1) and Gallant Bloom Stakes (G2) winner Come Dancing for trainer Carlos Martin.
Fox Hill Farms’ 3-year-old Omaha Beach, scratched as the morning-line favorite in this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1), made a courageous return on Oct. 5, winning the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), and will headline the $1 million Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile (G1), along with Allied Racing Stable’s Pennsylvania Derby runner-up Mr. Money.
He has not won any of his three starts this year, but Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen’s 7-year-old gelding Stormy Liberal will try to win an unprecedented three straight editions of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), run at five furlongs. The Aidan O’Brien-trained Fairyland (IRE) won The Curragh’s Derrinstown Stud Flying Five (G1) in September to earn an automatic berth. Jim and Susan Hill’s Totally Boss won the Kentucky Downs’ Runhappy Turf Sprint (G3) Sept. 7 for trainer Rusty Arnold.
TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Caps Future Stars Friday
For the second consecutive year, all five Breeders’ Cup races for juveniles will be run on the first day of the Championships under the banner of “Future Stars Friday.” The Friday program is headlined by the $2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at 1 1/16 miles. The Albaugh Family Stable’s Dennis’ Moment, a son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow, broke his maiden with a 19 ¼-length win at Ellis Park in July before taking Churchill Downs’ “Win and You’re In” Iroquois (G3) to secure a berth into the Juvenile for trainer Dale Romans. Also from Kentucky is Breeders’ Cup Challenge winner Maxfield, trained by Brendan Walsh, who was a 5 ½-length winner of Keeneland’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) for Godolphin. The top juvenile star on the West Coast is the Bob Baffert-trained Eight Rings, a son of Empire Maker, who also earned an automatic berth into the race by capturing the American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita on Sept. 27 by six lengths.
Baffert could have the favorite in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), also at 1 1/16 miles, with the Baoma Corporation’s Bast, who won the Del Mar Debutante (G1) by 8 ¾ lengths, but had to hold on gamely to defeat the Doug O’Neill-trained Comical by a neck in the “Win and You’re In” Chandelier Stakes (G1) on Sept. 27. Another O’Neill starter for the Juvenile Fillies is Lazy Daisy, who earned an automatic berth by taking the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. From the East Coast comes Alex and Joann Lieblong’s Wicked Whisper, who as a 2 ¾- length winner of the “Win and You’re In” Frizette Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park for trainer Steve Asmussen.
In addition to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies on Friday, there will be three turf races for juveniles. There are 26 runners pre-entered for the five-furlong $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2), and trainer Wesley Ward has two formidable ones in Breeze Easy LLC’s Four Wheel Drive, winner of the Futurity Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park, and David Mowat’s Kimari, second in the Queen Mary (G2) at Royal Ascot, and recent winner of the “Win and You’re In” Indian Summer at Keeneland.
In the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at one mile, West Point Thoroughbreds, William T. Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning’s Decorated Invader closed strongly to triumph in the “Win and You’re In” Summer Stakes (G1) Sept. 15 at Woodbine for trainer Christophe Clement and looms a major contender. Fellow Challenge race winner JSM Equine’s Peace Achieved won the “Win and You’re In” Dixiana Bourbon (G3) Oct. 6 at Keeneland for trainer Mark Casse.
The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), also run at one mile, is headlined by Flaxman Holdings Limited’s Albigna (IRE), who earned a free berth into the race by capturing the Qatar Prix Marcel Boussac – Criterium des Pouliches (G1) at ParisLongchamp, and Robert and Lawana Low’s Sweet Melania, who took the “Win and You’re In” JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland Oct. 9 for trainer Todd Pletcher.