MORE BREEDERS CUP SPOTS AT STAKE IN RACING ACROSS US

A fabulous weekend for racing across US, fans continues into Sunday, when Belmont Park and Keeneland stage a dazzling double-header full of clues for the forthcoming Breeders’ Cup. The biggest name in action is at Keeneland, where the mighty mare Letruska bids to take her winning streak to five in the Grade 1 Spinster. Wesley Ward has big chances with two-year-old fillies both in Kentucky and in New York, where the day’s highlight is a deep field of fillies and mares in the Grade 2 Beldame, in which Horologist is back to defend the crown she won last year.

Beldame Stakes

The spectre of Letruska hovers over several of the runners in the Beldame, Sunday’s feature at Belmont Park, but that superstar mare is at Keeneland this weekend and so opportunity knocks for those she leaves behind her.

Last year’s Beldame heroine Horologist returns to defend her crown, but the five-year-old has had a tough time of it since keeping on strongly to beat a field that actually contained Letruska 12 months ago. That was probably the best run of her career, but she showed she was on the way back when runner-up in the Grade 3 Shuvee at Saratoga and confirmed it in a stakes back at the Spa, when she led at every call and simply went further and further away, hitting the wire eight and a half lengths clear of Gold Spirit and So Darn Hot

If she’s in that mood today then she’ll take all the beating, but she faces stiff competition from the almost robotically consistent Royal Flag , who has never been off the board in her life. She came late and strong to beat Horologist by three-quarters of a length in the Shuvee two runs ago, with the ex-Chilean runner and new barnmate Gold Spirit beaten two and a half lengths into fourth place on her first start Stateside.

Last time out Royal Flag got within three-quarters of a length of Letruska when doing all her best work late in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga, when Miss Marissa – impressive when wiring the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap on her previous start – was a distant eighth. That’s the best form in the race and perhaps the Beldame is just a question of whether the closer Royal Flag can catch the front-runner Horologist.

Todd Pletcher puts three in the gate, with Spice Is Nice at the forefront after her defeat of a below-par Horologist in the Grade 3 Allaire duPont Distaff Match at Pimlico in May. That was the best run of her life, but she failed to confirm it when never in the game behind Letruska in the Grade 2 Fleur De Lis at Churchill Downs in June, and has been off the track since then.

Her stablemate Thankful is on a six-race losing streak and was beaten in allowance grade latest, but Pletcher’s third runner Zaajel , the sole three-year-old in the field, shouldn’t be discounted after her victory in the Grade 2 Mother Goose here in June, although she showed nothing in the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga last time out and lacks consistency.

HorseJockeyHorse Racing Odds courtesy of Jazzsports
THANKFULKendrick Carmouche+2000
SO DARN HOTJavier Castellano+1200
ZAAJELManuel Franco+1000
HOROLOGISTJunior Alvarado+200
GOLD SPIRITJose L. Ortiz+450
MISS MARISSAJose Lezcano+800
SPICE IS NICEJohn R. Velazquez+600
ROYAL FLAGJoel Rosario+250

Betting Prediction for Beldame Stakes: The consistent Royal Flag will always be a tough opponent, but HOROLOGIST can win a second Beldame after looking right back to her best on her most recent start.

Futurity Stakes

Wesley Ward moves his pieces around like a chess grandmaster, taking Chi Town Lady and Poppy Flower out of Saturday’s Matron and dropping them into the Futurity, where they take on colts in a ‘win-and-in’ for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

“It looks like the colt division is a little easier,” Ward told the Daily Racing Form, and if he’s right then his pair might dominate here. Of the two, unbeaten Chi Town Lady seems the clear pick after running down Poppy Flower late to beat her by a length and three-quarters in a stakes at Saratoga in August, a performance given a little extra shine considering that she was hampered by a slow start and couldn’t get to the front. Chi Town Lady showed plenty of speed when winning at Keeneland on debut and figures to be on the pace today.

Poppy Flower, who won her maiden over this course and distance, was then third in a stakes at Kentucky Downs, although that track doesn’t suit all and she could be happier on this more conventional racecourse.

Brown may well be right, as the pick of the colts appears to be Slipstream, who got off the mark at the third time of asking over seven furlongs here, making all and clearing away to score by five and a quarter lengths. Saratoga maiden winner Midnight Worker was not disgraced on his stakes debut at Monmouth Park last month over a mile, and gets turf for the first time.

Another trying turf for the first time is Run Curtis Run , who ran himself into the ground in a Saratoga stakes last time, finishing last of eight. Prior to that he’d won a Saratoga stakes over today’s distance, but it’s a watching brief considering his most recent effort.

Biz Biz Buzz debuted on turf at Laurel Park and got the job done first time, keeping on strongly in the stretch to win going away by three lengths. That looked a stronger race than the one Ready To March won on dirt at Finger Lakes on debut, while Ready To March’s stablemate Kavod has been well beaten in three Graded stakes and needs to be found an easier spot.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing Odds courtesy of Jazzsports
RUN CURTIS RUNEric Cancel+1200
MIDNIGHT WORKERManuel Franco+600
BIZ BIZ BUZZJavier Castellano+800
SLIPSTREAMJoel Rosario+400
CHI TOWN LADYJohn R. Velazquez+200
KAVODPaco Lopez+1500
READY TO MARCHCharles Roberts+2000
POPPY FLOWERJose L. Ortiz+250

Our Free Betting Pick for Futurity Stakes: The two Wesley Ward-trained fillies look to have the edge over the colts in the Futurity, and the choice is the unbeaten CHI TOWN LADY, whocan make her pace count.

Knickerbocker Stakes

Belmont Park in the fall is prime territory for trainer Shug McGaughey and a horse in the famous Phipps black-and-scarlet colours, and Breaking The Rules can stick to the script in the Knickerbocker.

The six-year-old is fresh after just two outings in 2021, and tuned up nicely for this when getting up in the last few strides to win an allowance optional claimer over a mile at Saratoga, turning back the late thrust of Sacred Life by half a length. That victory came off a seven-month break, and Breaking The Rules should move forward from that with the extra furlong to help.

Sacred Life may be the better of the Chad Brown entry despite being zero-for-four in 2021, as barnmate L’Imperator was only third in a moderate renewal of the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch at the Spa last month, a length behind runner-up No Word, who hasn’t won for more than a year. On his previous start L’Imperator won an allowance optional claimer at Saratoga with two and a quarter lengths to spare over third-placed En Wye Cee, who was having his first run of the year.

Epic Bromance was a longshot third in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park in July, form that would sit well at this level, but he is unlikely to have the speed to cope with the drop back in distance. That also applies to Corelli, winner of the Grade 3 Singspiel at Woodbine in August, whose concession of 5lb to most of his rivals could be crucial in a tight heat. Field Pass only scrambled home in a weak Grade 3 at Pimlico in July and also has to spot 5lb to most of the field.

Horse Jockey Horse Racing Odds courtesy of Jazzsports
FIELD PASSDylan Davis+600
BREAKING THE RULESJoel Rosario+400
SACRED LIFEJose L. Ortiz+350
L’IMPERATORManuel Franco+300
TEMPLEKendrick Carmouche+1000
CORELLIJunior Alvarado+1200
EPIC BROMANCEJose Lezcano+1500
EN WYE CEEJohn R. Velazquez+800
NO WORDJavier Castellano+800

Our Betting Tip for Knickerbocker Stakes: There is no standout form to cling to in the Knickerbocker, but BREAKING THE RULES should improve from his recent victory at Saratoga and holds strong claims on that.

Juddmonte Spinster Stakes

A bona fide star sprinkles a little glitter over Keeneland on Sunday, as Letruska bids to maintain her dominance over her fellow females in the Spinster, a ‘win-and-in’ for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff for which she has already qualified three times over.

The key to the mighty Letruska is the lead, as when she’s in possession she’s practically impossible to beat. She is 16-for-21 lifetime and her only defeat of 2021 came when she couldn’t get to the front end, and since then she’s four-for-four, three of them Grade 1s. Arguably her best performance came in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park in June, when she led at every call and was never threatened in the lane, winning by two and three-quarter lengths from Bonny South.

Last time out she wired the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga, setting quick fractions and keeping on strongly off that brisk pace to turn back all the late challengers, crossing the line a half-length ahead of the hard-charging Bonny South, second again, with Dunbar Road fourth in a blanket finish. If anything, she seemed a little less dazzling on that occasion, as though she was doing just enough and no more, but even when she’s not right on top of her game Letruska can get it done. She has a 4lb pull with Bonny South and 6lb with Dunbar Road, and if she gets her way in front she’ll stay there.

Frequent Grade 1 bridesmaid Bonny South runs in the sponsor’s colours and did at least get home in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare here over a mile-sixteenth in April, clinging on for the dollars by a head from Royal Flag with High Regard ten lengths back in fifth. Bonny South is getting closer to Letruska but it remains to be seen whether she’ll ever get past her. She may have had her chance in the Personal Ensign when Letruska was probably a few percentiles off her magnificent best, and looks set for another supporting role.

Dunbar Road was third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff over course and distance but has been disappointing in 2021, with that Personal Ensign fourth by far her best effort. If she’s on the way back then she’d be a danger to all, and perhaps the return to Keeneland can move her up a little more, but she just hasn’t produced her earlier zip during this campaign.

If there is a pace threat to the odds-on favourite it will come from Crystal Ball and Envoutante who filled out the placings, a length and a half apart, behind Shedaresthedevil in the Grade 3 Locust Grove at Churchill Downs last time out, with High Regard last of six. Neither could get on the lead that day, but Crystal Ball made most when winning an allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs in May, and Envoutante led throughout when beating Bonny South in the Grade 2 Falls City – also under the twin spires – last November.

It seems an unlikely scenario if Letruska is on her game, though. Town Avenger, the only three-year-old in the field, comes here after winning an allowance at Churchill Downs by more than nine lengths, which entitles her to a crack at the big time without suggesting that she’ll be able to handle it.

Horse Jockey Odds courtesy of Jazzsports
DUNBAR ROADFlavien Prat+500
BONNY SOUTHFlorent Geroux+450
TOWN AVENGERJulien R. Leparoux+2000
LETRUSKAIrad Ortiz. Jr-125
ENVOUTANTEBrian Joseph Hernadez. Jr+600
CRYSTALL BALLTyler Gaffalione+500
HIGH REGARDRafael Bejarano+2000

Betting Prediction for Juddmonte Spinster Stakes: The outcome of the Spinster will be decided as the horses leave the gate, and if LETRUSKA is on the lead then it’s very difficult to envisage defeat for this marvellous mare.

Bourbon Stakes

With a full field in play in the Bourbon, luck in running will play a major part in the outcome, especially for those drawn near the Keeneland parking lot in this ‘win-and-in’ for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Much of the most relevant form here has come from unorthodox Kentucky Downs, and that doesn’t always translate to more conventional tracks. Tiz The Bomb won a stakes over a mile there last time out, holding on gamely by three-quarters of a length with Play Action Pass another half-length away in third, and On Thin Ice a way back in sixth.

A good showing, but Tiz The Bomb breaks from post 12 here and Play Action Pass is widest of all in 14. They need luck, which also goes for Lucky Boss in post 13, narrowly beaten in an Ellis Park stakes on dirt last time.

Red Danger is another Kentucky Downs stakes-winner and has a good shot here on the basis of that three-quarter-length success, but even from post 10 his supporters will have their fingers crossed for a fast break and a smooth trip.

Another out wide is Heaven Street , post 11, who beat Stolen Base by two and three-quarter lengths when winning an allowance optional claimer at Kentucky Downs over a mile. He could step up from that but needs to, as does Rocket One ,who won a mile maiden at Kentucky Downs after finishing behind Play Action Pass at Ellis Park.

Away from the Downs, Martini’nmoonshine led at every call to break his maiden over today’s distance at Saratoga, keeping on strongly down the stretch, and that big-track form reads very well in this company. Post 4 is a handy spot.

Horse Jockey Odds courtesy of Jazzsports
BRIT’S WITDavid Romero Flores+3000
STOLEN BASEFlavien Prat+1000
DOWAGIAC CHIEFJames Graham+2000
MARTINI’NMOONSHINETyler Gaffalione+1000
ROCKET ONEJulien R. Leparoux+800
CREDIBILITYEdwin Gonzalez+2000
FAST N STEADYLeonel Reyes+3000
WAITA MINUTE HAYESMitchell Murri+3000
ON THIN ICECorey J. Lanerie+1500
RED DANGERLuis Saez+350
HEAVEN STREETRicardo Santana. Jr+800
TIZ THE BOMBBrian Joseph Hernadez. Jr+300
LUCKY BOSSIrad Ortiz. Jr+800
PLAY ACTION PASSEdgard J. Zayas+1000
VIVARFlorent Geroux+800
RED RUNRicardo Santana. Jr+1000

Our Free Betting pick for Bourbon Stakes: Luck rather than good judgement is probably the key to the Bourbon, so keep stakes small and give MARTINI’NMOONSHINE a chance to build on his Saratoga form.

Indian Summer Stakes

It’s not that often that a filly can be strongly fancied to beat the boys in stakes company, but Averly Jane looks to have a lock on the Indian Summer, a ‘win-and-in’ for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint Odds.

The unbeaten Wesley Ward-trained filly comes here looking for a four-timer after a sizzling display in a stakes at Saratoga, in which she led at every call and hauled off in the lane to win by seven and a quarter lengths from Pure Panic. That race was taken off the turf, so she goes on the weeds for the first time, but given her dominance in her three starts it would be a surprise if the new surface was an issue.

Her barnmate Kaufymaker has already tried turf in a stakes at Kentucky Downs, in which she came home third, a length and a half behind the winner and a length and a half ahead of fourth-placed Bonus Appreciation, who was a well-beaten seventh behind Averly Jane at Saratoga.

Sonnyisnotsofunny ran them ragged in an Ellis Park maiden on his debut, scoring by eight and three-quarter lengths, and should give a good account of himself in the big league, while Diamond City leaves Woodbine for the first time after winning a turf stakes last time out and is one for exotics players to consider. Big Boss Ben was also the comfortable winner of an Ellis Park maiden – Circle Back Jack third on debut – but his limitations were exposed when only sixth in stakes company at Colonial Downs last time out.

Horse Jockey Odds courtesy of Jazzsports
SONNYISNOTSOFUNNYLuis Saez+500
KAUFYMAKERIrad Ortiz. Jr+350
DETROIT CITYAdam Beschizza+3000
PURE PANICFlavien Prat+1500
BIG BOSS BENReylu Gutierrez+3000
BONUS APPRECIATIONBrian Joseph Hernadez. Jr+1200
AVERLY JANETyler Gaffalione-125
ROMAN POETFlorent Geroux+5000
CIRCLE BACK JACKRobby Albarado+5000
DIAMOND CITYJulien R. Leparoux+400

Our Betting Prediction forThe Indian Summer: is not a notably strong race but does contain a potential star, and the unbeaten AVERLY JANE can’t be opposed after three commanding performances.

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