Todd Pletcher ruled the roost at Keeneland on Saturday, carrying off the two G1s during the afternoon with horses bound for the Breeders’ Cup. Annapolis graduated to the big league in the Coolmore Turf Mile Stakes, while Forte won for the second time at the top level in the Breeders’ Futurity. Elsewhere, the fast-improving Slammed made all to win the G2 Thoroughbred Club of America.
Coolmore Turf Mile Stakes
Annapolis makes a big splash
G1, $1,000,000, 1m turf, 3yo+
There’s a new name on the big stage after Annapolis made his breakthrough at the top level in a star-studded Coolmore Turf Mile, the main event at Keeneland on Saturday and a win-and-in for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile back here in four weeks’ time.
Annapolis was making his first start against older horses, but the 6-1 shot didn’t let his relative inexperience show. He sat just behind the pace set by Masen until running that rival down at the eighth pole, and then kept on strongly to hold off the posse by a length and a half, stopping the clock in 1:33 and one-fifth.
The 2020 winner Ivar finished best of all to be runner-up, a nose ahead of Irish challenger Order Of Australia, but the favorite Santin was never on the premises, finishing ninth in a race slightly diminished by the scratch of potential pace angle Smooth Like Strait.
“This horse is very tactical, he can do anything,” said jockey Irad Ortiz. “He’s doing very well right now, he’s a nice horse.”
Annapolis is now five-for-seven and never out of the first two, and his share of the purse made him a millionaire. Todd Pletcher, winning his second Turf Mile, confirmed that the War Front colt would take up his place in the BC Mile, in which his chance would be improved by fast ground.
Another G1 for fighting Forte
G1, $600,000, 1m 1/16, 2yo
It was a memorable afternoon for Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz, who had earlier claimed the other G1 on the card when Forte came out on top in a desperate duel for the Breeders’ Futurity, winning his second G1 by a neck from the favorite Loggins.
Ortiz was content to keep the 4-1 second-choice back in mid-division as first Bourbon Bash and then Loggins set brisk fractions but moved Forte up around the outside to deliver a challenge at the top of the lane. From there on it was eyeball to eyeball, Loggins on the rail, Forte on the outside, before Forte took command in the last five strides.
The pair drew six and three-quarter lengths clear of longshot Red Route One, who rallied late to grab the ‘show’ spot. The principals came very close during the stretch drive, and the stewards took a look but no action. The time was 1:44 and four-fifths.
“He started acting a little green, so I had to take hold of him,” said Ortiz. “I had to keep him straight and try to win the race.”
Forte, a son of Violence, was adding to his earlier win in the G1 Hopeful at Saratoga and earning a paid berth into the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile back here next month when he will renew rivalry with Loggins and take on west-coast ace Cave Rock, the likely favorite.
Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes
Slammed kicks down the door
G2, $350,000, 6f, 3yo+ fillies/mares
Slammed put New Mexico back on the racing map when leading every step of the way in the Thoroughbred Club of America, clearing right away to win by six and a half lengths.
The 2-1 favorite broke on top under Florent Geroux and never saw another horse, improving her position all the way down the stretch and cruising under the wire in a time of 1:10 and change. Happy Soul, who had raced in second throughout, held on to that position by a half-length from Joyful Cadence.
The race offered a free pass into the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, but Slammed’s connections will have to pay $200,000 to get the filly – who is now nine-for-12 lifetime – in the race as her sire Marking is not nominated to the Breeders’ Cup.
“She’s a superstar, she belongs with the best,” said trainer Todd Fincher, who trains in New Mexico and is also Slammed’s co-breeder. “Today everything went perfectly and we all saw what she was made of. We’re very proud of her.”
The best-known horse to represent New Mexico was Peppers Pride, undefeated in 19 starts, all in her home state. Slammed has just spread the word wider.
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