Wow, what a weekend. Tickets were punched, spots locked up, itineraries solidified for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships later this month.
Elsewhere plans were scrapped and horsemen were sent back to the drawing board, plotting other softer spots for their stable stars.
The action came fast and furious over the first full weekend of October, starting with a soggy Opening Day at Keeneland, to Belmont, Santa Anita and Keeneland Saturday and finally back to Keeneland Sunday for the Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster.
Words often don’t do a weekend like the one we just experienced justice, so we’ve loaded up the replays that look to be the most telling or predicting for the Oct. 30-31 Breeders’ Cup.
Did you miss a minute of the action? No worries if you did.
We’ve got you covered in this week’s edition of Monday Morning Trainer, video replay edition.
Runhappy stole the show Friday at wet and muddy Keeneland Friday afternoon, winning his second straight graded stakes and solidifying his position as one to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He won the Grade 1 King’s Bishop earlier this summer, and might have stolen that spotlight that day if not for a certain Triple Crown winner running later on the card.
The 2-year-olds took center stage Saturday with three Grade 1 events, including two at Belmont Park. Greenpointcrusader was game in both of his starts this summer at Saratoga, figured to improve with more distance and did just that winning the Grade 1 Champagne.
Exaggerator might have been the most impressive 2-year-old of the summer at Saratoga, winning the Grade 2 Saratoga Special in the middle of the meet. He figured tough to beat in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and it took a strong performance from Brody’s Cause to top him. Undoubtedly a key race leading into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Not to be outdone by her male counterparts, Nickname was very professional winning the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park in her third start. She lost to Rachel’s Valentina in her debut at Saratoga then came back to win easily. She already looked pretty tough, but good does Rachel’s Valentina look now?
The Jockey Club Gold Cup was the marquee event on the Super Saturday and it was the colt who loves Belmont the most that got the job done again. Tonalist improved to 5-for-7 lifetime at Belmont in the $1 million headliner.
Keeneland’s Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile looked like a very useful prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile and undoubtedly will produce a starter or two after Grand Arch won his second straight graded stakes over the gritty The Pizza Man and Tourist.
The front-runners folded up the tent in the stretch and Wild Dude and Kobe’s Back flew home to finish one-two in the Graded 3 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Tough to see them being able to drop that far back off the pace at Keeneland and be in the conversation at the end, but couldn’t we have said that same thing about Santa Anita?
Got Lucky always looked like a filly who would relish going long, and she’s show signs of breaking through at the top levels before. She didn’t put it all together until Sunday when she wore down champion Untapable and Yahilwa in the Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster at Keeneland.