The 10 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup prep races last weekend will be a tough act to follow. Saturday features eight more Grade 1 preps and hopefully even more memorable performances.
I thought Royal Delta (Beldame), Game On Dude (Awesome Again), Executiveprivilege (Chandelier) and Power Broker (FrontRunner) won with such panache Saturday that their Breeders’ Cup stock went way up.
Can others accomplish that this Saturday?
The eight Grade 1 races are the Frizette, Foxwoods Champagne and Jamaica at Belmont Park; the First Lady, Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity, Shadwell Turf Mile and Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland; and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Three of the preps are for 2-year-olds, and trainer Todd Pletcher has his fingerprints all over them. He has the dominant favorite of the Frizette in Dreaming of Julia (2-5), who has won both of her starts by a combined 27 lengths.
Pletcher has three uncoupled colts in the Champagne: Shanghai Bobby, Archwarrior and Micromanage. And in the Futurity at Keeneland, he has Tizracer and Charming Kitten.
A new Breeders’ Cup policy concerning the five races for 2-year-olds is the diuretic Lasix will be banned. Nearly all horses, including 2-year-olds, use it to control internal bleeding.
For example, of the 30 horses entered in the Frizette, Champagne and Futurity, 28 will run on Lasix. Whether this new rule stops some horsemen from sending their 2-year-olds to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita remains to be seen.
The top horse in the grassy Jamaica will be Dullahan, last seen upsetting Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. I like a long shot in the Jamaica, Howe Great, for trainer Graham Motion.
At Keeneland, all eyes will be on Wise Dan in the Shadwell Turf. He blistered a strong group in winning the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on grass last out. Wise Dan appears a better horse on turf, but don’t rule out a start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion, Amazombie, will make his final prep in the Santa Anita Sprint. Trainer Bill Spawr has managed this 6-year-old to hopefully peak in four weeks for a repeat Breeders’ Cup win.
With that in mind, I like Coil from the Bob Baffert barn in a minor upset. No trainer is having a better year than Baffert, especially in graded stakes.
■ WEAK LINK – There once was a game show called “The Weakest Link” in which a team of contestants would vote a member, one by one, off the show. Well, it looks like the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Churchill Downs are ready to tell Turfway Park, “You are the weakest link, goodbye.”
Churchill has proposed racing a 12-day meet in September 2013 replacing Turfway on the fall schedule. Turfway already is on life support, and September is its most profitable month.
Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.