Keeneland Barn Notes: Morticia Heads Field for Buffalo Trace


(Next Shares Staying at Keeneland / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Keeneland Media Team:


G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Morticia, the defending champion, heads an overflow field of 14 and two also-eligibles entered Sunday for Friday’s 22nd running of the $100,000 Buffalo Trace Franklin County (G3) for fillies and mares going 5½ furlongs on the turf.

The Buffalo Trace Franklin County will go as the ninth race on Friday’s 10-race program with a 5:30 p.m. ET post time. First post time Friday is 1:05 p.m.

Trained by Rusty Arnold, Morticia will seek to join Ayrial Delight (1998-1999) as the only horse to win the race in consecutive years.

Third in the Smart N Fancy at Saratoga in her most recent start, Morticia is a six-time stakes winner. Jose Lezcano, who was aboard for the Buffalo Trace Franklin County victory in 2017, has the mount Friday and will break from post position six.

Invading from California is Gary Barber and Team Valor International’s Belvoir Bay (GB).

A three-time graded stakes winner on grass, Belvoir Bay has not run since finishing fifth against males in the Highlander (G1) at Woodbine on June 30. Trained by Peter Miller, Belvoir Bay will be ridden by Flavien Prat and break from post position three.

Another mare who merits attention is Silverton Hill’s Ruby Notion.

Trained by Darrin Miller, Ruby Notion won the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint (G3) in her most recent start and once again will be ridden by Florent Geroux. Ruby Notion will break from post 12.

The field for the Buffalo Trace Franklin County, with riders and weights from the inside, is: Miss Gossip (IRE) (Joe Rocco Jr., 120 pounds), Con Te Partiro (Albin Jimenez, 120), Belvoir Bay (GB) (Prat, 122), Delectation (GB) (Tyler Gaffalione, 120), CountryChick (Carlos Esquilin, 120), Morticia (Lezcano, 120), Girls Know  Best (Jose Ortiz, 120), Excessivespending (Robby Albarado, 120), Chanteline (Ricardo Santana Jr., 120), Aiken to Be (Chris Landeros, 120), Smiling Causeway (Julien Leparoux, 120), Ruby Notion (Geroux, 122), Brielle’s Appeal (Shaun Bridgmohan, 120) and Goldberry (Rogelio Miranda, 120). Also-eligibles: OnProbation (Adam Beschizza, 120) and Brittney On Blades (Mitchell Murrill, 120).


Next Shares, upset winner of Saturday’s $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), will be spending a few more weeks here at Keeneland to prepare for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.

“We talked about it last night and the plan is to stay here until the last minute,” said Aimee Dollase, assistant to trainer Richard Baltas. Breeders’ Cup horses have to be on the grounds at Churchill Downs 72 hours prior to their races.

Next Shares and stablemate Insta Erma, sixth in the First Lady (G1) after stumbling badly at the start, have been in Kentucky since early September when both won stakes at Kentucky Downs.

“They both ran so well at Kentucky Downs, we decided just to come here to train rather than ship back to California,” Dollase said, reporting that Next Shares came out of his winning effort fine.

The gelding received a ground-saving trip from Tyler Gaffalione, who notched his first Keeneland graded-stakes victory with the 3¼-length score.

Next Shares races for Michael Iavarone, Jules Iavarone, Jerry McClanahan, Christopher T. Dunn, William Marasa, Ritchie Robershaw and Mark Taylor. At last year’s Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, he sold to David Meah, agent, for $190,000 from the consignment of ELiTE.

M and J Thoroughbreds and Riverside Bloodstock’s Great Wide Open (IRE), who finished second in the Shadwell Turf Mile at 81-1, could make his next start in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

“He ran so hard yesterday that I really expected him to be tired for a few days, but he was fresh this morning,” said trainer and co-owner Conor Murphy, whose stable is based at Trackside training facility near Churchill. “If he continues showing the form he showed going into the Shadwell Mile, he certainly will be under consideration for the Breeders’ Cup.”


A lot can change in the racing game in 24 hours. Nobody knows that better than trainer Ben Colebrook.

On Saturday morning, Colebrook was lamenting the troubled trip Katherine G. Ball’s Limousine Liberal had the day before in his third-place finish in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2).

On Sunday morning, Colebrook was celebrating his first Grade 1 victory thanks to KRA Stud Farm’s Knicks Go’s stunning 5½-length romp in Saturday’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at odds of 70-1.

“It is still sinking in,” said Colebrook, who went out on his own in 2012 when he started one horse. “I thought he might outrun his odds. Down the backside, I saw him flicking his ears and I thought he might get a piece of it.”

The victory earned Knicks Go a berth in the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 2.

“It is just speculation now, but I may take him over to Churchill to work because he never has been there,” Colebrook said.

Tommie Lewis and Magdalena Racing’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity runner-up, Signalman, will remain at Keeneland for the time being.

“He’ll stay here at Keeneland and probably have his workouts here to prep for the Breeders’ Cup,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “Small chance he’ll have one work at Churchill. It’ll be a couple weeks until we think about working him, but at this point all the partners are in on entering him and running (in the Breeders’ Cup).

“He came back with some scratches on his left hip from the incident (getting bumped into the rail) at the head of the stretch but it doesn’t look like anything we can’t handle.”

Third-place finisher Standard Deviation will remain at Keeneland, according to Whit Beckman, assistant to Chad Brown.

“It was a very workmanlike effort out of the (13) hole,” Beckman said. “He will stay here (until the Breeders’ Cup) because you’ve got good weather and it’s a good place to prepare a horse.”

Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity favorite Dream Maker, who finished 12th, is unlikely to be in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after incurring a minor injury, a small cut on athe back of a front hoof, in the race.

Trainer Mark Casse said the colt, owned by John Oxley, will not miss any training time.

“He ripped his shoe off at the start and grabbed his heel so we had no shot in the Futurity from the very beginning,” Casse said. “He nearly fell but he ended up catching his front foot with his back foot. I thought he was a Breeders’ Cup horse, but obviously we can’t go after yesterday. I guess now we are going to regroup and try to get ready for the Kentucky Derby (G1).”


Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables’ A Raving Beauty (GER) was on a plane back to New York early Sunday morning following her head victory over Dona Bruja (ARG) in Saturday’s First Lady (G1).

The First Lady victory was one of three Grade 1 wins on the day for trainer Chad Brown. He notched a Grade 1 double at Belmont with Wow Cat (CHI) winning the Beldame and Complexity taking the Champagne.

Also returning to New York from the Brown barn was First Lady favorite Quidura (GB), who finished seventh.

Trainer Ignacio Correas was pleased with the runner-up performance by Dom Felipe’s Dona Bruja.


“Very, very happy,” he said. “I’m very proud of her. Declan (Cannon) gave her a great ride. We are thrilled. It’s always better to win, but it was a winning race that was pretty good.”


Correas said Dona Bruja most likely would make her next start Dec. 2 at Del Mar in the Matriarch (G1), “then we’re going to campaign her next year.


“We’re going to try to get a Grade 1,” he said about choosing the Matriarch. “I think it’s a good spot for her.”

Trainer Mark Casse said plans are undecided for Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Valadorna, who was a close fifth in the First Lady.

“She ran very well and I am proud of her,” Casse said about the filly, who won Keeneland’s Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare (G3) on dirt in April. “I will talk with the Stonestreet team and see. There are races for her in New York and California.”


Insta Erma stumbled badly at the start of the First Lady before rallying to finish sixth beaten only 3¼ lengths.

“She seems OK this morning,” said Aimee Dollase, assistant to trainer Richard Baltas. “It was just unfortunate (what happened at the break). Credit to her for still trying the way she did.”

Insta Erma is owned by Medallion Racing, Nathan McCauley, Thomas Cornelison, Jerry McLanahan and Christopher Johnson.

She is cataloged as a racing or broodmare prospect in Book 1 of Keeneland’s November Breeding Stock Sale, which begins Nov. 5.



Trainer Brad Cox reported that Juddmonte Farms’ Golden Mischief came out of her victory in Saturday’s Thoroughbred Club of America (G2) well.

The victory earned Golden Mischief a berth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) scheduled for Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs.

“It (the Breeders’ Cup) is on our home field this year, so my vote would be to run,” Cox said.


Ironhorse Racing Stable’s Bucchero was back in his stall at Churchill Downs the morning after becoming the fourth horse to win the Woodford (G2) Presented by Keeneland Select in consecutive years.

Last year, Bucchero used the Woodford as a springboard to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Del Mar, where he finished fourth beaten only a length.

Trainer Tim Glyshaw plans to travel the same road this year, albeit a shorter distance.

“We’re very excited to run in the Breeders’ Cup in our backyard at Churchill Downs,” Glyshaw said. “We’re still very proud of Bucchero’s effort (in the Woodford) and we’ll start to get him ready for the Turf Sprint.”

Trainer Brad Cox echoed a similar sentiment regarding Klein Racing’s runner-up Will Call, who also will be pointed to the Turf Sprint.


Here are the invitees to Saturday’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Presented by Lane’s End (G1):

Beyond Blame (trainer Brad Cox), Capla Temptress (IRE) (Bill Mott), Chipolata (FR) (Christophe Clement), Daddy Is a Legend (George Weaver), Fatale Bere (FR) (Leonard Powell), Mission Impassible (IRE) (Jean-Claude Rouget), Nyaleti (IRE)(Mark Johnston), Pollara (IRE) (Chad Brown), Princess Warrior (Kenny McPeek), Rushing Fall (Brown) and Secret Message (Graham Motion).

Entries for the QE II will be taken Wednesday.

On Sunday morning at Keeneland, Susan and Jim Hill’s Daddy Is a Legend, a two-time Grade 3 winner, tuned up for a run in the race by working 5 furlongs in 1:04.20 on the turf course labeled “good.” She produced splits of :12.60, :25.60, :39.20, :51.40 and 1:04.20.

Arriving shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday from Europe for the QE II were Mohammed Hamad Khalifa Al-Attiyah’s Mission Impassible (IRE) and 3 Batterhams and a Reay’s Nyaleti (IRE).

Scheduled to arrive Sunday afternoon from Belmont Park is e Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ Rushing Fall. In April, she won the Appalachian (G2) Presented by Japan Racing Association here.


The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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