Wednesday, December 8, 2021

For most Breeders’ Cup favourites, the road to Del Mar went through the spa

“Where the Turf Meets the Surf” is a little kitty by Bing Crosby as a tribute to his favorite racetrack, Del Mar, which he helped build in San Diego in 1936.

On Saturday, Del Mar will be where The Gray meets the other Gray for the first time.

Actually, Nix Go and Essential Quality are quite familiar to each other. They were separated by about 20 feet in trainer Brad Cox’s barn at the Saratoga Race Course this summer, each with a victory blanket of flowers hanging on shader rails in front of their stalls.

On August 29, 3-year-old Essential Quality’s red and white carnations were bright and fresh, the day before from her Travers victory, while the flowers of her old stablemate Knicks Gow were brown and dry, hanging there. Since Whitney’s win three weeks ago.

On Saturday, their parallel courses will merge when they head to the racetrack for the first time, the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in Del Mar, the biggest race of the weekend on the Thoroughbred racing calendar.

Even beyond the intriguing Knicks go-essential quality matchup, the wide-open classic field represents a recurring theme overall: If you’re going to send a good North America-based horse to the Breeders’ Cup, chances are you’ll love it. Must have gone through Saratoga to get there.

This goes for the whole weekend. Of the 169 initial entries in 14 races worth a total of $28 million in purses, 59 ran in Saratoga, and 34 of them won at least once. Of those, 10 are morning-line favorites, so if you were at the spa this summer, especially on the weekend, you probably saw a horse that would be a favorite in a Breeders’ Cup race.

Of the nine horses in the Mile-and-a-Quarter Classic field alone, in addition to 5-2 Knicks Go and 3-1 Second Choice Essential Quality, the 8-1 Art Collector took Alidar to start a three-race winning streak Won the Breeders’ Cup, and the 8-1 Max Player won the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup during the closing weekend of the Saratoga Meet.

There probably won’t be any real head-butting between the Knicks Go and the Essential Quality even close to the wire, as they have different playing styles.

The Knicks Go was first on every call, winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in Keeneland last year, and has gone so far in three of their victories at this year’s Classic, including the mile-a-eighth Whitney. It’s no secret that the Knicks will be firing right out of the go gate.

The essential quality, on the other hand, is usually to let other horses go to the front, then pass them and hold their position with authority, winning by a close margin. He won the Belmont Stakes by a length and a quarter, Jim Dandy by half a length at Saratoga, and Travers by a neck.

“They shouldn’t get in each other’s way,” Cox said with a smile the day after Travers, about a potential BC Classic matchup between their two stablemates. “We know how the Knicks Go likes to do it, and Essential is going to make its run.”

Knicks Go, Essential Quality, art collector and Steve Asmussen-trained Max Player were largely stationary in Saratoga for the duration of the meeting from July 15 until Labor Day, September 6. In fact, the art collector was still in Saratoga. mid-last week, when he shipped from trainer Bill Mott’s barn to California at the Oklahoma training track.

Other BC favorites to win at Saratoga include two highly regarded youths on Future Stars Fridays, with five races limited to 2-year-olds.

Mechanicville native Chad Brown is known for turf success — of the 15 BCE winners he has trained for over the years, 13 have done it on grass — but his best shot at victory this weekend is on the dirt. , Teens in with Jack Christopher.

Not one to lose in the reshuffle of the blockbuster Traverse Cards on August 28, Jack Christopher started his career in the second race and won by 8 3/4 lengths, followed by an even more impressive victory at the Grade I Champagne at Belmont Of. Park to stamp himself as a potential favorite in BC Teen. That’s 9-5 on Friday.

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Also among 2-year-olds, Echo Zulu is one of the top favorite of the weekend, at 4-5 in Teen Phillies. The 2017 Horse of the Year gun runner’s daughter is undefeated by a combined 16 3/4 lengths from three career starts that include the Grade I spinway at Saratoga on the closing weekend.

Also on Fridays, Skidmore winner Everly Jane is favored in the teen turf sprint.

On Saturdays, favorites include Gamine (Philly and Mare Sprint) in addition to the Knicks Go rolling through the spa this summer; Golden Sails (Turf Sprint); Life Is Good (Dirt Mile); goddess of war (colt and mare turf); Jackie Warrior (Sprint); and Letrushka (Distaff).

Gamine, who won the Breeders’ Cup last year on the way to the Eclipse Award, is 3-5 at the lowest price on the weekend, and rightly so, with a flawless, dominating 2021 campaign that includes a Grade I ballerina on Traverse Day.

“The gamine machine, it’s hers,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, after the ballerina.

In addition to Essential Quality (Jim Dandy, Travers) and Echo Zulu (maiden, Spinaway), Jackie Warrior (Amsterdam, Alan Jerkens) and War Like Goddesses (Glens Falls, Flower Bowl) are BC favorites who won twice at Saratoga.

Jackie Warrier and BC Dirt Mile favorite Life Is Good actually went 1-2 ahead respectively in Grade I Alan Jerkens on Traverse Day.

Jackie’s Warrior would have been closer to a co-favorite with Asmussen’s stablemate Yaupon in the BC sprint, but Yaupon, who won a Grade I forego on the Traverse card, suffered a minor fracture to his left hind leg in September and retired. Done.

So that leaves his stablemate to take 6-5 favorite Jackie’s Warrior to the BC sprint area which includes Firenze Fire, who memorably tried to attack Yupon in the deep stretch of Forgo and nearly hit him by the neck. Jockey Ricardo Santana was cut on and on the leg.

Life Is Good was the leading contender for the Triple Crown race in the spring, then was sidelined with an injury before the Kentucky Derby and four months later returned to Alan Jerkens against Jackie’s Warrior.

Life Is Good’s path to the Breeders’ Cup was changed out of the Derby by the Bob Baffert legal saga on Medina Spirit’s drug positive, when Winstar Farms sent Life Is Good to trainer Todd Plechter. His second place behind Jackie’s Warrior at Saratoga was impressive enough to make him a 4-5 favorite at the BC Dirt Mile.

War Like Goddess was a clear winner in two of her races in Saratoga, the Grade III Glens Falls and the Grade I Flower Bowl on the closing weekend, but she will face a bevy of strong European horses in Philly and Mare Turf, and is a nerdy 7 Preferred at -2.

Like the Knicks go, Letruska likes to go right to the starting gate and see if anyone can pass her, and she has Saratoga fans meeting in a Grade I personal pennant on Traverse Day with one of the most direly dramatic finale ever. Compensated. .

Running on the rails, she barely avoided a blanket finish by holding four horses three-quarters of a length apart on the wire – Bonnie South, Royal Flag and Dunbar Road.

The BC Distaff area has a heavier Saratoga influence than the BC Classic. Besides Letruska, the Royal Flag and Dunbar Road, the Baffert-trained As Time Goes By, sixth in the individual ensign, as well as the horologist, who was second only to the Royal Flag in Shuwe before winning the Summer Colony at Saratoga.

You then fold in 3-year-old Phillies, racing against older horses for the first time, among them division leaders Malthat and Clarier. Malathat competed in a daring race to finish second at the head of the Maracuja at Grade I coaching club American Oaks, fighting rivals in the four-horse field to an unintentional tag-team effect.

He came back from the first defeat of his career with an impressive victory in Grade I Alabama. Clairere was third in the CCA Oaks and second in Alabama.

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Categories: Sports

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