Four Breeders’ Cup Challenge ‘Win and You’re In” races were contested in the U.S. over the holiday weekend, with Lady Eli remaining undefeated and Big Blue Kitten knocking off defending Turf champion Main Sequence.
Lady Eli is a budding superstar, winning her sixth consecutive race to start her career with an impressive victory in the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) on Saturday. The Chad Brown trainee drew clear in the stretch and won by 2 ¾ lengths as the 4-5 betting favorite.
It was her first trip at 1 ¼ miles and she handled it with no problem and earned an automatic starting spot in the field for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) with the victory.
She stopped the timer in 1:59.27 and earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure. By comparison, Force the Pass won the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) in a time of 2:01.16 and earned a Beyer of 92.
Brown has plenty of options for the talented filly to get her to the Breeders’ Cup undefeated.
“We have the Lake Placid at Saratoga if we wanted to keep her against straight three-year-old fillies. We also have the Beverly D. if we want to look at bigger goals and run her against older fillies and mares. We could also wait until the Breeders’ Cup [to run her against older] because we have the Queen Elizabeth right at Keeneland, where the Breeders’ Cup is being held. Her next major goal is the Queen Elizabeth. How we get there, we’ll have to talk about it.”
Main Sequence was the headliner in Sunday’s $500,000 United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park. The Graham Motion trainee had won five races in a row on U.S. soil including last year’s United Nations and the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
However, it was the 2013 United Nations winner Big Blue Kitten who rolled to victory, stamping his ticket to this fall’s Breeders’ Cup Turf with a 1 ½ length victory under a stellar ride from jockey Joe Bravo.
The seven-year-old is trained by Chad Brown, went over $2 million in career earnings with the victory, and returned his backers (he was our top pick) $10.80. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105 for his victory.
He checked in eighth in the 2013 Turf, and did not compete in the race last year. Instead, he ran second in the Canadian International (G1) in October and second in the Red Smith Handicap (G3).
Merry Meadow earned a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) with her win in the $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Sunday.
The Mark Hennig trainee pressed the early pace and drew clear late to win by 1 ¾ lengths as the favorite, returning her backers $4.80.
She had a three race winning streak snapped in her previous start when fading to finish a well-beaten sixth in the Inside Information (G3).
She won a graded stake for the fourth time, increased her career earnings to $842,800, and improved her record to 28-9-10-5. She earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure.
Favorite Tale took the field gate to wire to win the $250,000 Smile Sprint (G2) and earned a starting berth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
Trained by Guadalupe Preciado, the gelding jumped to the early lead and easily held off last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Work All Week, the winning margin 4 ¼ lengths. The gelding paid $17.00 for the win and he earned a Beyer of 104, matching his career top which he earned in the Galant Bob at Philly last September.
There is a three-week break in Breeders’ Cup Challenge races. The next is the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot on July 25. The next in the U.S. is the Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) at Del Mar on July 26.
Get Michael’s Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday including all of the U.S. based Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races from now to Oct. 8 and Michael Dempsey’s 2-Day Breeders’ Cup Report. Michael’s two day Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the two-day championship event from Keeneland on Oct. 30-31.