Keeneland Gearing Up For “Fan”-tastic Start to Fall Meet

(Whitmore winning the 2017 version of the Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

From the Media Team at Keeneland:


Top sprinters Whitmore and Limousine Liberal, who have split four meetings with each other, headline a field of six entered Tuesday for Friday’s 166th running of the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) for 3-year-olds and up going 6 furlongs on the main track.

The Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix, which will go as the eighth race on Friday’s 10-race program with a 4:57 p.m. ET post time, is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race with the winner earning a fees-paid berth in the $2 million TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) to be run Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Ron Moquett, who owns the 5-year-old Whitmore in partnership with Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners, Whitmore will be seeking to become the seventh runner to win this race in consecutive years, a feat most recently accomplished bySum of the Parts in 2012 and 2013.

Last year’s race was the first meeting of the two with Limousine Liberal finishing third, a neck back.

Trained by Ben Colebrook and owned by Katherine Ball, the 6-year-old Limousine Liberal took the next two meetings, winning the Churchill Downs (G2) over a sloppy track with Whitmore 3¼ lengths back in fourth and then prevailing by a neck in the Belmont Sprint Championship (G2). That victory earned Limousine Liberal a Breeders’ Cup berth in the Sprint.

Whitmore evened the score in the Forego (G1), beating third-place finisher Limousine Liberal by 1½ lengths and earning a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

Ricardo Santana Jr. has the call on Whitmore, who will break from post position two. Jose Ortiz rides Limousine Liberal, who will exit post position four.

The top threat to the veterans is Robert Baron’s 3-year-old Promises Fulfilled.

Trained by Dale Romans, Promises Fulfilled won the Amsterdam (G3) and H. Allen Jerkens (G1) at Saratoga in his past two starts and will be facing older horses for the first time Friday.

Luis Saez has the mount and will break from post position one.

The field for the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix, with riders and weights, from the rail out is: Promises Fulfilled (Saez, 122), Whitmore (Santana Jr., 124), Distinctive B (Florent Geroux, 120), Limousine Liberal (Ortiz, 122), Heartwood (T.D. Houghton, 120) and Dalmore (Albin Jimenez, 120).

(Trainer Michael Stidham / Photo Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)


Pin Oak Stable’s homebred Synchrony was last seen racing at Keeneland 2½ years ago when he finished third in the Lexington Stakes (G3) on dirt for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

A lot has changed since then. Synchrony returns to Keeneland as a major player for Saturday’s
$1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), a “Win and You’re In” race for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.

“He has gotten on the turf and never looked back,” trainer Mike Stidham said of Synchrony, who has compiled a 9-5-2-2 record on grass. “That was the plan (to run on grass) when he came to me. He had run some good dirt races but they wanted to explore the turf, and Donnie raced at tracks such as Oaklawn where there is no grass racing.”

Following the Lexington, Synchrony was off for 10 months before his career resumed under Stidham.

“He battled some issues,” Stidham said. “He ran two good races (in early 2017), but we wanted to get him 100 percent and gave him time off.”

Since returning in 2018, Synchrony has posted a 6-4-0-2 record with all victories coming in graded stakes. He enters the Shadwell Turf Mile off victories at Monmouth Park in the Oceanport (G3) at
1 1/16 miles and the Red Bank (G3) at a mile.

His lone setbacks came with a third-place finish in the Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill on Derby Day and a third in the 1 3/16-mile Arlington Handicap (G3) on July 7.

“The Arlington race was an experiment to see how he would do going longer,” Stidham said. “But the longer distance took away his kick, and we decided to cut back to a mile or a mile and a sixteenth. Right now, I would not trade places with anybody.”

(Mr. Misunderstood winning at Churchill Downs / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)


For trainer Brad Cox, 2018 has been a year he will long remember. He hopes the good vibes keep coming during Fall Stars Weekend that opens the 17-day Keeneland Fall Meet.

Cox’s big gun is Flurry Racing Stables’ Mr. Misunderstood, a multiple graded-stakes winner who is expected to be in the entry box Wednesday for Saturday’s $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1).

“He was a flat third in the Tourist Mile at Kentucky Downs last month,” said Cox, whose stable has earned a personal-best $11 million this year, sixth among trainers in North America. “Some horses take to that course. Some don’t.”

A winner of a 10 of 14 starts on the grass, Mr. Misunderstood finished sixth in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) in his lone start over the Keeneland turf course.

“He missed the break that day and still only got beat 2 lengths,” Cox said.

Cox, who notched his first Grade 1 victory when Monomoy Girl won this April’s Central Bank Ashland here, will have his first stakes starter of the weekend Friday with Right Time Racing III and Madaket Stables’ Meadow Dance in the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1). A maiden winner at Ellis Park, Meadow Dance finished third in the Arlington-Washington Lassie in her previous start.

Also on Saturday, Cox has Klein Racing’s TwinSpires Turf Sprint (G3) winner Will Call in the $200,000 Woodford Presented by Keeneland Select (G2). On Sunday, he will send out Fantasy (G3) winner Sassy Sienna in the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1).

As for the aforementioned Monomoy Girl, the four-time Grade 1 winner is at Churchill Downs preparing for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) on Nov. 3.

“She is doing great,” Cox said of the filly, who was disqualified from a victory in the Cotillion (G1) at Parx on Sept. 23. “She is going to have four works there before the Breeders’ Cup, and her first one is Saturday.”


Two European hopefuls for Saturday’s $400,000 First Lady (G1) arrived at Keeneland early Tuesday morning and were housed in the Quarantine Barn.

First to arrive was Mr. P.K. Siu’s Indian Blessing (GB), who finished third in the Ballston Spa (G2) in her most recent start. Ed Walker trains the 4-year-old filly, who is a Group 3 winner in Europe.

Godolphin’s Crown Walk (GB) arrived later for her first test in North America. The 3-year-old filly, trained by Henri-Alex Pantall, comes into the First Lady off a runner-up finish in the Prix Rothschild (G1) on July 29 at Deauville.


For the convenience of media covering Keeneland’s 2018 Fall Meet, which opens Friday and runs through Saturday, Oct. 27, Keeneland is posting select photos and video on its FTP site.

Photos will include finish and winner’s circle shots of stakes races, morning works of prominent horses, general scenics and special event photos.

Video clips of stakes races are uploaded daily. At the conclusion of each race day during the meet, a short highlight video also will be uploaded. Video of morning works of prominent horses also might be available.

Photos and video are available for editorial use only. Please credit as “Keeneland photo” or “Keeneland video.”

Please note: Access to Keeneland’s FTP site no longer requires a username or password.

Click her e to access the FTP site.

Folder: 2018 Fall Race Meet


Here are the probable starters for Fall Stars Weekend stakes this Saturday and Sunday as compiled by Keeneland Stakes Coordinator Allison DeLuca:

*$1,000,000 SHADWELL TURF MILE-G1 (Entries taken Wednesday; race Saturday) – Almanaar (GB) (Chad Brown), Big Score (Tim Yakteen), Bound for Nowhere (Wesley Ward), Forge (GB) (Bill Mott), Christian C (Wayne Catalano), Divisidero (Kelly Rubley), Great Wide Open (IRE) (Conor Murphy), Heart to Heart (Brian Lynch), Holiday Stone (George Weaver), Mr. Misunderstood (Brad Cox), Next Shares (Richard Baltas), Qurbaan (Kiaran McLaughlin), Synchrony (Michael Stidham), Voodoo Song (Linda Rice), Zulu Alpha (John Ortiz). Possible: Analyze It (Brown).

*$500,000 CLAIBORNE BREEDERS’ FUTURITY-G1 (Entries taken Wednesday; race Saturday) – Aurelius Maximus (Chad Brown), Borracho (Rusty Arnold), Classy John (Dallas Stewart), Dream Maker (Mark Casse), Knicks Go (Ben Colebrook), Looking At Bikinis (Brown), Mind Control (Greg Sacco), Moonster (Dale Romans), Mr. Ankeny (Romans), Signalman (Kenny McPeek), Sombeyay (Todd Pletcher), Standard Deviation (Brown), Tobacco Road (Steve Asmussen), Unionizer (Bill Mott).

*$400,000 FIRST LADY-G1 (Entries taken Wednesday; race Saturday) – A Raving Beauty (GER) (Chad Brown), Crown Walk (GB) (Henri-Alex Pantall), Dona Bruja (ARG) (Ignacio Correas IV), Indian Blessing (GB) (Ed Walker), Insta Erma (Richard Baltas), La Sardane (FR) (Neil Drysdale), Off Limits (IRE) (Brown), One Liz (Wayne Catalano), Pas de Soucis (IRE) (Jorge Abreu), Pyscho Sister (Ari Herbertson), Quidura (GB) (Brown), Valadorna (Mark Casse).

*$250,000 THOROUGHBRED CLUB OF AMERICA-G2 (Entries taken Wednesday; race Saturday) – Awestruck (Rusty Arnold), Chalon (Arnaud Delacour), Curlin’s Approval (Happy Alter), Happy Like a Fool (Wesley Ward), Mia Mischief (Steve Asmussen), Miss Sunset (Jeff Bonde), Rich Mommy (Victor Barboza Jr.), Torrent (Ron Moquett).

$200,000 WOODFORD PRESENTED BY KEENELAND SELECT-G2 (Entries taken Wednesday; race Saturday) – Bucchero (Tim Glyshaw), Done Deal (Ian Wilkes), Holding Gold (Mark Casse), Machismo (Gary Johnson), Master Merion (Wesley Ward), Undrafted (Ward), Vici (Mike Maker), Will Call (Brad Cox).

*$500,000 JUDDMONTE SPINSTER-G1 (Entries taken Thursday; race Sunday) – Blue Prize (ARG) (Ignacio Correas IV), Eskimo Kisses (Kenny McPeek), Fuhriously Kissed (Anthony Quartarolo), Pacific Wind (Chad Brown), Sassy Sienna (Brad Cox), Skeptic (Rusty Arnold), Talk Veuve to Me (Rodolphe Brisset).

*$250,000 DIXIANA BOURBON-G3 (Entries taken Thursday; race Sunday) – All American Hero (Mark Casse), Art du Val (GB) (Charles Appleby), Blockbuster (Casse), Gins and Tins (Wesley Ward), Henley’s Joy (Mike Maker), Life Mission (Ben Colebrook), Mr Wrench It (Coty Davidson), Salvator Mundi (Kenny McPeek), Tracksmith (Joe Sharp).

*$200,000 INDIAN SUMMER (Entries taken Thursday; race Sunday) – Blame the Frog (Ben Colebrook), Chelsea Cloisters (Wesley Ward), Egoli (Ward), Nitrous (Steve Asmussen), Perfect Answer (Coty Davidson), Shang Shang Shang (Ward), Strike Silver (Mark Casse).

*Breeders’ Cup Challenge race


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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