With just over a month until the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland on Oct.30-31, there will be no shortage of prep races over the next two weeks, with two dozen Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In’ races still left to be decided.
There are seven Challenge races in the U.S. on Saturday, five at Santa Anita as they open their meet, and another two at Belmont Park. In addition, the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (G1) at Newmarket is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Juvenile Turf.
Here is a quick look at the Breeders’ Cup Challenge races state side:
The $300,000 Frontrunner (G1)
The Frontrunner serves as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). American Pharoah won the Frontrunner last year, who then missed out on going to the Juvenile with an injury but ended up having a pretty good three-year-old campaign. Eight go to the post led by the Doug O’Neill trained Nyquist (6-5), who is undefeated in three career starts. The son of Uncle Mo won the Del Mar Futurity (G1) in his last outing on Sept. 7. O’Neill won this race in 2013 with Bond Holder.
The $300,000 Zenyatta (G1)
Beholder is the 2-5 morning line favorite and while the winner of this race earns fee-expenses paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), she likely will take on the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). She already beat the boys, winning the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar on Aug. 22 by 8 ¼ lengths. She is currently the second choice in early Classic betting at BetOnline at +400.
The $300,000 Chandelier (G1)
The Chandelier winner earns a spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has won this race (previously called the Oak Leaf) nine times, including in 2013 with Secret Compass and 2012 with Executiveprivilege. This year he sends out a pair in Del Mar Debutante (G1) runner up Pretty N Cool (4-1) and recent maiden winner Jade Princess (9-2). The Jerry Hollendorfer trained Songbird is the 3-5 morning line favorite off her victory in the De Mar Debutante.
The $300,000 Rodeo Drive (G1)
The Rodeo Drive is one of the best wagering races on the card as 11 will look to stamp a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). The Christophe Clement trained Hard Not to Like is the 3-1 morning line favorite. She won the Gamely (G1) at Santa Anita followed by the Diana (G1) at the Spa in her last two starts.
The $300,000 Awesome Again (G1)
A Breeders’ Cup Classic berth is on the line as eight older runners line up to go 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Defending Classic champion Bayern is the 5-2 morning line favorite despite losing four in a row since last years controversial victory. Last out he was beaten 22 ½ lengths in the Pacific Classic. His only good effort in his last four starts was a third two back in the San Diego Handicap (G2) where he earned a 100 Beyer.
The $400,000 Vosburgh (G1)
The Vosburgh is one of two “Win and You’re In” races at Belmont Park on Saturday. The race serves as a major prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Seven will go to the post but all eyes will be on 2-5 morning line favorite Rock Fall, who has won six of his seven career starts. The Todd Pletcher trainee has won six in a row, taking the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) last out at Saratoga for his first Grade 1 score.
The $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1)
An evenly matched field of seven line up in the Joe Hirsch, a Challenge race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The Chad Brown trainee Big Blue Kitten is the 2-1 morning line favorite and comes off a tough beat in a neck loss in the Arlington Million (G1). He faces Sword Dancer (G1) runner up and third place finisher Red Rifle (5-2) and Twilight Eclipse (5-1).
I will include selections and analysis for all of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge races in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.
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