Keeneland Saturday Recap: All About The Breeders’ Cup
Win & You’re In Races Took Center Stage
By Augusta Hosmer
Spiced Perfection Lives Up To Her Name, Wins Grueling Thoroughbred Club of America
What a ride from jockey Javier Castellano! Last year’s California Horse of the Year, Spiced Perfection, showed her grit in the 39th running of Thoroughbred Club of America (GII) at Keeneland Saturday with a stumble at the start, an insane recovery and a battle in the stretch to take the win over Dawn the Destroyer, Mia Mischief and favored Chalon. After the rough start, Castellano moved the bay filly, who is by Smiling Tiger and out of Perfect Feat (by Pleasantly Perfect), to the inside, then shifted her out along the turn, and then to the delight of the crowd split horses near the eighth pole and battled Dawn the Destroyer in the stretch to pull out Spiced Perfection’s third career graded stakes win.
“She stumbled really bad coming out of the gate,” Castellano said. “She recovered pretty quick and we kept tracking the speed. We got through a little, tiny hole at the eighth pole. The filly was very brave to go through that hole and get it done.”
Bob Flynn, part-owner of Spiced Perfection, was thrilled with the win.
“This horse has been great ever since she started racing,” Flynn said with a grin. “Eighteen races now, eight wins and she just never quits. (A secured spot in the starting gate of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint [G1]) sounds great. Sounds wonderful. I’ve never had one in the Breeders’ Cup.”
Arnaud Delacour, trainer of favorite Chalon, stated she was not traveling well throughout the race and will likely not go to Breeders’ Cup following this run.
“Let’s see how she comes back,” Delacour said. “But it would be a little bit tough to go there off a race like that. She would have had to show something special today. We’ll probably regroup and pass on the Breeders’ Cup.”
California-bred Spiced Perfection is coming off wins in the La Brea Stakes (G1) and Madison Stakes (G1) earlier this year and is now guaranteed a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint Division in November. We look forward to seeing this filly return under Breeders’ Cup purple.
Uni Takes Stacked First Lady, Breaks Course Record
It was clear going into this year’s First Lady Stakes (GIT) that one thing the field was not short on was talent. Standout filly Rushing Fall brought to the table a win in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (GIT) and a whopping seven career graded stakes wins. Former claimer Vasilika matched Rushing Fall with eight decisive graded stakes wins.
But none of this fazed British-bred Uni, who drew away from the pack in the final stages of the race under Joel Rosario to win the one-mile turf test by 2 ½ lengths, defeating fellow Brit Juliet Foxtrot, who was another 1 ¼ lengths in front of Vasilika in third. In doing so, the chestnut mare set a course record of 1:32.87, shattering the mark set in 2004 by Perfect Soul, winner of the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in 2003 and who is now best known as the sire of Clark Handicap (GI) and Stephen Foster (GII) winner Seeking the Soul.
“She’s unbelievable. She has a long stride and she just kept coming and coming,” jockey Joel Rosario said.
Unfortunately, though the First Lady is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf division, the talented daughter of More Than Ready is not yet Breeders’ Cup-nominated. No word yet on the plans of the horse’s connections or whether they intend to pay for Uni’s supplement fee, but most are in agreement that she has more than enough talent to run in California in four weeks.
Maxfield Hits Max Speed To Take Victory In Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity
Maxfield, a stunning bay son of Street Sense, was already turning heads in the paddock before the 106th running of the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (GI), and he proved he had just as much speed as he does looks when he blew past the favored Gouverneur Morris to win his first grade 1 race by 5 ½ lengths, less than a month after he broke his maiden at Churchill Downs.
Godolphin’s homebred Maxfield broke slowly from the gate, but it didn’t stop him from rallying along the far turn to sweep past Gouverneur Morris and surging farther and farther into the lead. It was insane run from the handsome colt: from second to last to blasting past the field like they were moving in slow motion. He broke his maiden in similar fashion: look good in the paddock, break slow, surge from behind, and make everyone say wow.
Maxfield’s trainer, Brendan Walsh, had high praise for his horse.
“He’s a special horse,” Walsh said. “I’ve been around a lot of good horses, and good horses breathe different air. I think this horse is right there.”
It was also a special moment for Walsh, as he earned his very first grade one win.
“I always knew (winning my first grade 1 race) would be special,” Walsh said. “But to win it here for these people (Godolphin) it’s extra special. Fantastic. Indescribable. “
Jockey Javier Castellano, who rode runner up and favorite Gouverneur Morris, seemed to share Walsh and Ortiz’s sentiments.
“We were just second best today,” Castellano said. “He earned it and fought for second place, but the winner was the best horse in the race.”
With his victory, Maxfield has not only earned 10 points on the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby, but a guaranteed spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on November 1.
A Heroic Effort In Shadwell Mile
The final stakes race of Keeneland opening Saturday did not disappoint.
The 34th running of the million-dollar Shadwell Turf Mile (GIT), a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win ad You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GIT) featured a talent-filled field and when the dust settled Kentucky-bred Bowies Hero claimed the victory under jockey Flavien Prat. After racing well back early the son of Artie Schiller rallied in the stretch and just edged clear at the wire to the win over 30-1 longshot Diamond Oops.
Less than two lengths separated the top eight finishers at the wire, six separated by just their noses.
“I thought I had a good trip. My horse broke well – better than the other day (when fifth at Del Mar in the Del Mar Mile [GIIT] on Aug. 18),” Prat said. “I was able to put myself in the race, was able to tip him out around the turn and get him ready to make his run. And then he got the job done. (The battle between several horses right at the wire) was great. When you win, it’s great. When you get beat, it’s frustrating. He always gives you everything he has.”
Bowies Hero won the Eddie Read Stakes (GIIT) earlier this year and owns a career line of 21-8-1-3. The Phil D’Amato trainee was sold as a $17,000 yearling at the Keeneland September Sale and now has banked $1,478,970, including the $1 million purse of the Shadwell, so we’d call that a pretty good deal.
“We’ve always had the confidence in this horse,” said Josh Flores, assistant to winning trainer Phil D’Amato. “He’s had some tough trips. Today, Flavien was able to put him in the right spot and he was able to fly home.”