McLean Digs Into Breeders’ Cup: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

(Concrete Rose captures the G2 Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

We will begin to take a look at the Breeders’ Cup races, with a snapshot at each of the “Championship Races” that will make up the 2-day racing extravagancy at Churchill Downs — beginning this coming Friday.

The second of the Stakes in the magnificent sequence will be the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf — the second BC race on a day dedicated to promoting “Tomorrow’s Stars.” All the Breeders’ Cup races on Friday will be for the 2YO divisions — both fillies and colts; both grass and dirt.

This event will be contested at 1 mile over the brilliant green, green grass of Churchill Downs’ home, and post time is estimated to be 4:00 p.m. ET. A full field is expected. Here’s our snap shot.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf:

  1. Top Pick: Newspaperofrecord (6) — This Irish-bred filly is really an usual sort. For being a foreign-bred, and sold at a European sale (Tattersalls October a year ago), she never raced in Europe. And, as far as I can tell, she never even trained across the pond, either. But ever since she stepped foot in this country, she has been impressive. In her first career start, on Aug. 19 at Saratoga, she was bet down to favoritism at $1.50-to-$1. And, she ran off to a near 7-length win. In the second start, it was much of the same things. The only difference was that she led gate-to-wire, pulling away to a near 7-length win again. A thing to note is that both of those races were at 11/16-miles, and both were over a yielding surface. If the forecast remains the same, the sod at Churchill Downs is likely to have some give to it, as well. This filly is out of a dam, who has already produced two turf winners from three starters, and both of them have gone on to win Stakes, as well. If there a single in the two days, this one makes a compelling argument to be just that. Not threatened, challenged, tested, or even pushed so far.
  2. Interesting Factoid — This filly sold for $278,600 (U.S. Equivalent) at the Tattersalls October Sale last year. That was the 18th highest price yearling out of 74 from the Lope De Vega sire during the event. The average sales price for off-spring of that sire was $182,900 (U.S. Equivalent). The stud fee for the stallion? A modest $40,000. But here’s the deal. Lou De Vega — a dual Classic winner of the Group 1 Poule de’s des Poulains at Longchamp and the G1 Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly — is the son of the young stallion Shamardal. That one is a son of Giant’s Causeway. And, that one is a son of? Quick now. It’s Storm Cat. Did you read the previous post? Storm Cat sire line is 0-forever in all the Breeders’ Cup races held previously at Churchill Downs. Those numbers now range in the 20s. Enough to raise eyebrows and concerns. At least they do — for me.
  3. European Invasion — The Euro Invader who intrigues me the most is The Mackem Bullet (2). This is another filly bred in Ireland, but this one was sold for a modest $11,600 (U.S. Equivalent). The sire’s average was $44,200 for the sale. The stallion’s stud fee is $8,000. This filly has raced 6 times to date, with only one win. But she has 2 seconds and 2 thirds. In the last two outs, she has run second by a nose and second by a neck — the last coming in the G1 Juddmone Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket. She has run both of those seconds to the really good Fairyland, who many would consider and tell you is the best 2YO of the European contingency. This one likes to close, as well and has never been on ground rated better than “good.” Should be a nice price, too — and has been set at $15-to-$1 ML. Went off at $25-to-$1 in the last out. Lily’s Candle (3) is another interesting prospect for this one. This one has raced 5 times this year, and has 3 wins to her credit. In her last out, she won the G1 Qatar Pri Marcel Boussac — Criterium des Pouliches at Longchamp. But what is most impressive? In two races at this 1-mile distance, she is a perfect 2-for-2. The fourth shot in the ML at 8-1 odds. Nice.
  4. Live Long Shot: Summering (12) — This daughter of War Front is a home-bred for Glen Hill Farm, and trained by my very good friend Tom Proctor. Proctor won the Distaff in 1994 with one of the longest shots in the history of the Breeders’ Cup — One Dreamer. This one may not be those odds, but at 15-1 ML, she could be a nice payoff in her own right. This March foal won her first two races — including the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar on Sept. 3 from a nice stalking position. In her last out, though, she ran a very troubled third in the Surfer Girl Stakes at Santa Anita. Got caught on the rail in that one, and had to wait and wait and wait for an opening. When it finally did come, it was too late for her to get up in the 1-mile Stakes event. She will break from the #12 post on Friday, but should be able to utilize her speed to get a good position early on in this one with the services of rider Drayden Van Dyke. The one obstacle will be the surface. She has never been on anything other than a firm grass surface. But the dam, Wishing Gate, is by Indian Charlie and she was a SW, too. Pedigree is strong. Worth a shot?
  5. How Do I Play It — While Newspaperofrecord should be and will be a prohibitive favorite, and a “KEY PLAY” candidate, I will buck the trend here, and spread out. (We will know early on if the “curse of Storm Cat” lives on.) I will use Concrete Rose (1), The Mackem Bullet (2), Lily’s Candle (3), and Summering (12) in the horizontal plays. I will key the 1-2-3-12 over/under Newspaperofrecord (6) in the exactas. And, I will play the 2-3-12 across the board. Looking for some odds, my friends.
  6. How Do You Play It —  We welcome your insights and handicapping tips. Let us know. Email me at After all, to win at the Breeders’ Cup? It takes a village.
  7. Next — Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies — 11/16 Miles on the Dirt

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
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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