News and STORIES

Six Breeder’s Cup Spots Locked Up Over the Weekend

Author: Chris Adams
Published: Monday September 20, 2021

This weekend saw a number of spots in the Breeder’s Cup locked up. Four spots were won for turf races while 2 races were won on dirt.


Woodbine in Canada had the most Breeder’s Cup tickets available with 3 this weekend. Given the fact that Woodbine does not have a true dirt track, all of their preps point to turf races for the Breeder’s Cup. 

Woodbine Mile

Town Cruise popped from the rail and ran up to the lead in the early stages. After establishing the lead he was able to get an easy 24 flat to the first quarter. As the horses entered the home stretch there was little that could be done to catch up to Town Cruise who held on for a fairly comfortable victory at 8-1. Raging Bull and Set Piece who were well regarded coming in left far too much to do and lacked the punch needed to get by the leaders late. While the win was impressive it is worth noting that the top 2 finishers were forwardly placed throughout which may suggest the late closers would have a better shot in a more contested pace.

With the victory, Town Cruise earns a guaranteed spot in the Breeder’s Cup FanDuel Mile.

Natalma Stakes

Sunday saw the running of 2 Woodbine stakes races with Breeder’s Cup implications. The first was the Natalma Stakes. In the race favorite Wild Beauty broke a step slow and ended up as the early trailer as the post time favorite. Throughout the backstretch the horse advanced into the middle flight. Coming into the stretch, she popped outside and made easy work finishing about 3 lengths to the good of any competitors.

The victory guarantees the filly a spot in the Juvenile Fillies Turf on Future Stars Friday.

Summer Stakes

The final Breeder’s Cup Challenge Series race of the weekend was featured on Sunday’s Woodbine Card. In the race Godolphin continued their North American success when Albahr, trained by Charlie Appleby won the Summer Stakes. 

The win earns Godolphin another Breeder’s Cup spot. This one will run in the Juvenile Turf on Future Stars Friday.

Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs “Downs After Dark” program on Saturday featured two dirt races with Breeder’s Cup implications. More specifically, the races helped bring some clarity to the juvenile picture in both the male and female divisions. The juvenile races will take place on day 1 of the Breeder’s Cup which has been coined as “Future Stars Friday”.

Pocahontas Stakes

Hidden Connection drew a tough post given the preferred front running style of this horse. Furthering the challenge was the fact that the #10 horse blitzed from the outside to get out in front. Nevertheless Hidden Connection was able to sit off the early leader and pounced entering the far turn. As they turned for home, the race was over. Reylu Guttierez asked her for more and Hidden Connection responded beautifully, opening up by an ever-widening margin.

With the victory, Hidden Connection earned both a spot in the Juvenile Fillies, but also 10 points toward the 2022 Kentucky Oaks.

Iroquois Stakes

The Iroquois Stakes was the 2nd Breeder’s Cup Challenge Series race from Churchill Downs on Saturday night. Stellar Tap was heavily bet after leaving an impression at Saratoga this summer. The even money favorite made an early move in the turn and tried to hold off late pursuers, but came up well short in the lane. In the end it was Major General who ran wide around the entire course to get the victory.

Major General will now be guaranteed a spot in the TVG Juvenile Stakes on Future Stars Friday at the Breeder’s Cup. 

Belmont Park

Belmont Park had only one Breeder’s Cup Challenge Series race this weekend, but with the quality of New York turf racing, it is sure to have major ramifications on the turf division moving forward.

The Jockey Club Derby Invitational

Tango Tango Tango set the early pace at 14-1. Bolshoi Ballet, who entered as the favorite, was hung three wide. Things didn’t improve for the co-favorite as they headed up the backstretch. When the running started Soldier Rising and Bolshoi Ballet made their moves together. Despite making up ground on the early leaders, Godolphin’s Yabir had trailed throughout, but hit high gear and circled the entire field. In the end the victory was an easy one with Soldier Rising finishing 2nd and Slicked Back fighting back on for 3rd at 19-1. Bolshoi Ballet ran out of the money in disappointing fashion but will likely look onward to the Breeder’s Cup anyway.

The victory ensures Yabir a spot in the Breeder’s Cup Longines Turf where he will likely see a few of these again.

Breeder’s Cup Launches Review of Baffert Runners

2021 has been a tumultuous year for Bob Baffert. Most notably Medina Spirit was found to test positive for an illegal substance following a victory in the Kentucky Derby. Since then it has been a bumpy several months for one of California’s top trainers.

The Kentucky Derby Saga

Following Medina Spirit’s positive test in the Kentucky Derby Baffert tried to get out in front of the process by holding an impromptu press conference. Following the initial report, Baffert had the opportunity to send in a split sample to a lab of his choosing.The split sample confirmed the results.

Immediately in the wake of the test the New York Racing Association which includes Belmont Park announced they would be suspending Baffert from all racing at their tracks including the Belmont Stakes. Pimlico, who was set to hold the next Triple Crown race, announced that Baffert’s horses would be allowed to run, but only under more stringent testing procedures. The horses were clean and permitted to run. 

As the summer wore on, a judge stopped NYRA’s ban on Baffert and insisted that his horses be able to run. The ruling was based on the fact that NYRA unfairly applied the rule as there are other trainers running with previous drug violations. 

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has yet to hold an official hearing on the results of the Kentucky Derby which would likely result in Medina Spirit’s disqualification and Mandaloun being named winner of the race.

Last month the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission did announce that Baffert horses would be barred from earning Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks points. These points are required for horses to earn spots in the two biggest races from Churchill Downs. In effect the decision serves as a ban on Bob Baffert for the 2022 Oaks Derby cards.

Breeder’s Cup Follows Suit

Baffert has picked up 4 additional drug positives in the last year. Despite the fact that Baffert is one of the top trainers at Del Mar, where the Breeder’s Cup is to be held, the Paulick Report first reported last week that the organization is reviewing the trainer’s eligibility for this year’s event. Although he does not fall under the official rules for disqualification, Baffert could be excluded using a sort of elastic clause that allows the Breeder’s Cup to rule out connections that have engaged in activity detrimental to the sport.

A ruling will need to be made on Baffert’s eligibility in the near future as the Breeder’s Cup begins at Del Mar in just over a month.