by Jeremy Plonk
September 23, 2019
Breeders’ Cup prep season is in full bloom on this first day of Fall. To get you prepared for all the preps, here’s a look at the schedule and status of each of the 14 divisions toward the Nov. 1-2 world championships to be held at Santa Anita. Stay with Xpressbet and XBTV for extensive coverage of key races and workouts in the coming weeks.
Sept 28: Awesome Again at Santa Anita
Sept 28: Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont
Sept 28: Lukas Classic at Churchill
In the books: Travers at Saratoga, Whitney at Saratoga, Woodward at Saratoga, Pacific Classic at Del Mar, Juddmonte International at York, Pennsylvania Derby at Parx
Where We Stand: McKinzie won the Whitney on the road and gets a home game for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. In a division devastated by attrition, this could simply be a year of a ‘now’ horse training well into the Classic and peaking at the right time.
Sept 28: Beldame at Belmont
Sept 29: Zenyatta at Santa Anita
Sept 29: Remington Park Oaks at Remington
Oct 6: Spinster at Keeneland
In the books: Personal Ensign at Saratoga, Clement Hirsch at Del Mar, Cotillion at Parx
Where We Stand: Midnight Bisou and Elate have separated from the pack, while the sophomores have not delivered a standout to challenge them.
Sept 28: John Henry Turf Championship at Santa Anita
Oct 5: Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont
Oct 6: Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp
Oct 12: Canadian International at Woodbine
Oct 17: Sycamore at Keeneland
In the books: Sword Dancer at Saratoga, Arlington Million at Arlington, Del Mar Handicap at Del Mar, Northern Dancer at Woodbine, Jockey Club Derby at Belmont, Irish Champions at Leopardstown, Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs
Where We Stand: It’s Bricks and Mortar vs. the world. America’s best turfer in several years has been flawless in 2019. The Europeans have won 4 straight (and 5 of the last 6) in this division, however.
Oct: City of Hope Mile at Santa Anita
Oct 5: Shadwell Mile at Keeneland
Oct 5: Hill Prince at Belmont
In the books: Fourstardave at Saratoga, Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, Woodbine Mile at Woodbine, Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs
Where We Stand: A 44-1 upset in the Woodbine Mile sort of typifies the division with no North American clarity. The Shadwell Mile could be where America’s best ascends, but the Europeans have to feel good about these prospects.
Filly & Mare Turf
Sept 28: Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita
Oct 5: First Lady at Keeneland
Oct 6: Flower Bowl at Belmont
Oct 6: Prix de L’Opera at Longchamp
Oct 12: Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland
Oct 12: EP Taylor at Woodbine
Oct 12: Sands Point at Belmont
Oct 20: Dowager at Keeneland
In the books: Beverly D at Arlington, Yellow Ribbon at Del Mar, Matron at Leopardstown, Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf at Kentucky Downs
Where We Stand: Defending F&M Turf heroine Sistercharlie looks as dominant domestically in this division as stablemate Bricks and Mortar does in the Turf.
Sept 28: Vosburgh at Belmont
Oct 4: Phoenix at Keeneland
Oct 5: Santa Anita Sprint Championship at Santa Anita
In the books: Forego at Saratoga, Vanderbilt at Saratoga, Bing Crosby at Del Mar, Gallant Bob at Parx
Where We Stand: Mitole has been nearly flawless in 2019 and heads one of the deepest and most talented divisions for this year’s championships. Two-time defending Sprint champ Roy H, away since January, is back on the work tab at San Luis Rey Downs, but is running out of time.
Filly & Mare Sprint
Oct 5: LA Woman at Santa Anita
Oct 5: Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland
Oct 19: Raven Run at Keeneland
In the books: Ballerina at Saratoga, Test at Saratoga, Rancho Bernardo at Del Mar, Gallant Bloom at Belmont
Where We Stand: Come Dancing clearly has become New York’s best in the division since cutting back in distance. Covfefe stands out among the sophomores. But it’s historically wise to wait until the two big races at Keeneland shake out before you get too cozy in your F&M Sprint convictions.
Sept 28: Ack Ack at Churchill
Sept 29: Oklahoma Derby at Remington
In the books: Kelso at Belmont, Pat O’Brien at Del Mar
Where We Stand: This hybrid division often gels when we see who’s going where, and who’s avoiding whom. Catalina Cruiser will try to make amends for last year’s disappointing run at Churchill while having the home-field advantage this time and is 3-for-3 on the year.
Sept 27: Eddie D. at Santa Anita
Sept 28: Unzip Me at Santa Anita
Oct 5: Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational at Belmont
Oct 5: Woodford Stakes at Keeneland
Oct 6: Prix de L’Abbaye at Longchamp
Oct 11: Franklin County at Keeneland
Oct 12: Nearctic at Woodbine
In the books: Green Flash at Del Mar, Nunthorpe at York, Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs, Turf Monster at Parx, Turf Amazon at Parx
Where We Stand: With the abolition of the 6-1/2 furlong downhill turf sprints at Santa Anita, the Turf Sprint shortens to 5 furlongs this time. This might open things up from the previous course specialists you looked for in SA-hosted events. Two-time defending Turf Sprint champ Stormy Liberal is 0-for-5 on the year and may have lost a step at age 7.
Sept 27: American Pharoah at Santa Anita
Sept 28: In Reality at Gulfstream
Oct 5: Champagne at Belmont
Oct 5: Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland
In the books: Hopeful at Saratoga, Del Mar Futurity at Del Mar, Iroquois at Churchill
Where We Stand: Dennis’ Moment has captivated Kentucky in his first 2 dominant victories, while Steve Asmussen trainees ran 1-2-3 in the Hopeful. The west coast picture got awfully fuzzy in the Del Mar Futurity with 35-1 shot Nucky.
Sept 27: Chandelier at Santa Anita
Sept 28: My Dear Girl at Gulfstream
Oct 4: Alcibiades at Keeneland
Oct 5: Mazarine at Woodbine
Oct 6: Frizette at Belmont
In the books: Spinaway at Saratoga, Del Mar Debutante at Del Mar, Pocahontas at Churchill
Where We Stand: Bast crushed the Del Mar Debutante for Bob Baffert in breaking her maiden, and Lazy Daisy shipped east to win the Pocahontas for Doug O’Neill. The 2-turn preps will determine this division, but the Californians look capable of defending home ground at this stage.
Sept 28: Pilgrim at Belmont
Sept 28: Royal Lodge at Newmarket
Oct 6: Bourbon at Keeneland
Oct 6: Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp
In the books: Juvenile Turf at Del Mar, With Anticipation at Saratoga, Summer at Woodbine, Kentucky Downs Juvenile at Kentucky Downs
Where We Stand: Decorated Invader has looked good at Saratoga and Woodbine for Christophe Clement, still in search of an elusive Breeders’ Cup trophy after 36 tries. Fighting Seabee won the Spa key prep, but his trainer Kenny McPeek is 0-31 in the Breeders’ Cup. Encoder topped Del Mar’s freshman turfers for John Sadler, who is now 1-45 in the BC after Accelerate’s Classic breakthrough. The Europeans historically are very strong in this division and perhaps the place to shop.
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Sept 27: Rockfel at Newmarket
Sept 29: Miss Grillo at Belmont
Oct 6: Zuma Beach at Santa Anita
Oct 6: Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp
Oct 9: Jessamine at Keeneland
In the books: Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar, PG Johnson at Saratoga, Natalma at Woodbine, Moyglare Stud at The Curragh, Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies at Kentucky Downs
Where We Stand: Chad Brown has won this division 3 straight years and 4 of the last 5. The Miss Grillo has been the historic benchmark for preps, so see what Chad unleashes there this weekend. Irish import Yesterdayoncemore raided to win the Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, sounding the first international shot, but this has been America’s division over the years.
Juvenile Turf Sprint
Sept 28: Armed Forces and Hollywood Beach at Gulfstream
Oct 5: Matron at Belmont
Oct 6: Speakeasy at Santa Anita
Oct 6: Indian Summer at Keeneland
Oct 6: Futurity at Belmont
In the books: Prix Morny at Deauville, Champions Juvenile at Leopardstown
Where We Stand: Bulletin won this race in its 2018 inaugural via a Hollywood Beach Stakes prep at Gulfstream. That race gets renewed Saturday. This likely will be the race with the least clarity among contenders as the Breeders’ Cup approaches.