Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®
Daily Cup Update: Ladies Classic, Wednesday, Nov. 3
Acoma – The Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic contender schooled at the gate and in the paddock Wednesday morning then jogged a bit before taking a strong gallop with trainer David Carroll in the saddle.
“Everything went great, she’s very good about all that,” Carroll said. “She was kind of aggressive in her gallop today; she’s sitting on go. But we’re very happy with how she’s going into the race. We took her up to the paddock and walked around there for a while. Normally she’ll walk to the track and stand and look around for a while and this morning she wanted no part of that, she wanted to get on with it – so we let her get on with it.”
The 5yo daughter of Empire Maker turned in her final preparation for the Ladies’ Classic on Sunday, working 4f in 50 flat under jockey Albarado. She comes into the race off a score in Keeneland’s Oct. 10 Spinster Stakes for owners Helen Alexander and Helen Groves.
Acting Happy – Jay Em Ess Stable’s Acting Happy jogged one lap around the main track with a pony at her side Wednesday morning. Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. will equip the sophomore daughter of Empire Maker with blinkers for the first time Friday.
“You could see in the Alabama that she wasn’t putting her head down and reaching out,” Dutrow said. “She was kind of looking over at those other fillies. She still ran very well. We’ve always liked this filly. We’re thinking blinkers will move her up. I’ve watched her train in blinkers and she’s responded to them.”
Acting Happy’s claim to fame is a win in the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on Preakness weekend. She has run only twice since, finishing third in a pair of G1’s in New York.
“You know it’s our game bringing horses at her level into big races fresh like this,” Dutrow explained. “She went to Churchill early because we wanted her to get used to that track over there and when she left Aqueduct she looked outstanding. The reports I’ve gotten the last couple of days is that she likes it there and we’re all set with her. She showed me enough in the Alabama (third behind Blind Luck) to know we belong.”
Blind Luck – Blind Luck galloped on Wednesday morning and went to the gate for a bit of schooling. As the winner of the Kentucky Oaks, she is not only familiar with the track, but has shown trainer Jerry Hollendorfer that she likes it, leaving him to say he is just keeping her happy now.
“She stays happy,” he said of the daughter of Pollard’s Vision.
Blind Luck is coming off a second-place finish in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing to fellow Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic contender Havre de Grace, a filly she had defeated by a nose and a neck in her two previous races, the Delaware Oaks and the Alabama Stakes, respectively
“We used her race in Philly as a prep and we have no excuses,” Hollendorfer said of the loss in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion. “It was longer between races than she’s used, to and she carried more weight (124 lbs), but we got done what we had to do.”
Hollendorfer’s biggest concern before Tuesday was an inside post position that would get her trapped on the rail. Instead, she drew post 10, just inside of Havre de Grace.
“She doesn’t have much pace to run at, but then in all of her races this year she hasn’t had a pace to run at,” he said.
Hollendorfer, who still lives in the Bay Area despite running a string in Southern California, stayed up to watch the San Francisco Giants clinch the World Series on Monday night. The significance of the team’s victory was not lost on Hollendorfer.
“If the Giants can win, then I should be able to!” he said.
Havre de Grace – While Rick Dutrow Jr., who trained 2005 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year Saint Liam, has won three Breeders’ Cup races, his older brother Tony Dutrow is still looking for his first. Now his charge Havre de Grace, who was sired by Saint Liam, has a legitimate chance in the Ladies’ Classic.
The 3yo filly is among Saint Liam’s only crop of foals as he was euthanized following a tragic paddock accident at Lane’s End Farm on August 24, 2006.
“I haven’t put any thought into how meaningful it would be to win a Breeders’ Cup with a horse that was sired by a great racehorse and trained by my brother,” Tony Dutrow said.
“Only two thoughts come to mind. One is what a wonderful racehorse Saint Liam was; he was so special and my brother did such a great job with him. The other thought is what a loss it was to the horse racing industry. He was just showing us glimpses of what he was going to do (as a sire). What you saw on the racetrack may not have been as good as what he was going to do in the breeding shed.”
Still, it would be awfully sweet for Dutrow to finally have a Breeders’ Cup trophy of his own.
“It would be cool,” Dutrow said, when asked about the prospects of winning a Breeders’ Cup race and finished fourth with Burning Roma in the 2000 Juvenile in his only Breeders’ Cup start. “I selfishly think of myself. But I think more of the clients who put up the money and their hopes and dreams and hang in there year after year only to be disappointed. That’s who I feel for. This is a tough game. It’s built on disappointment. But it’s also built on hope.”
Dutrow has three reasons to hope that now it will be his turn. In addition to Havre de Grace, he will saddle 3-1 morning line favorite Rightly So in the Filly & Mare Sprint and Joyful Victory in the Juvenile Fillies.
Havre de Grace galloped 1 ½ m on Wednesday morning and was scheduled to school in the paddock in the afternoon.
It's Tea Time – It’s Tea Time went to the track Wednesday morning and was allowed to stand and relax before galloping once around the track in preparation for the Ladies’ Classic.
“She’s doing everything right we ask of her,” trainer Rusty Arnold’s assistant Jack Bohannon said. “She will just gallop up to the race.”
It’s Tea Time will school in the paddock with the horses running in the fourth race today. Arnold is expected to be at his Churchill Downs barn Thursday morning.
Life At Ten/Malibu Prayer – The second choice on the morning line at odds of 7-2, Life At Ten galloped over the main track Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs. Although the 5yo daughter of Malibu Moon has made 16 career starts at eight different tracks, this will be her first race at Churchill
“This has been her best year,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I feel like she’s training as well now or better than she has at any point in her career.”
Life At Ten may not be familiar with Churchill, but she is 3-for-3 at the 9f distance of the Ladies’ Classic.
“I think a mile-and-an-eighth is the perfect distance for her based on the way she ran in the Beldame last time,” Pletcher said. “She kind of stalked the pace and then made her move. She’s coming into this race the right way.”
Malibu Prayer, a front-running winner of the Ruffian Handicap at Saratoga before finishing second in Monmouth’s shorter Molly Pitcher last time, was out for a gallop over the Churchill dirt Wednesday morning.
“She’s doing well,” said Pletcher. “She’s only had one bad outing this year, and that was in a sprint (Vagrancy at Belmont Park in May). That was probably not such a good idea, but it was her first start since November and we didn’t want to ask too much of her.”
Milwaukee Appeal – It was a day of rest for the 3yo daughter Milwaukee Brew, just as it was following her shipping to Keeneland for the Spinster Stakes, her most recent start.
Trainer Scott Fairlie said the Ontario-bred, who was vanned from Woodbine Racecourse Tuesday, traveled well and appears very sharp after the trip.
“I gave her the day off after she shipped to Keeneland and that seemed to work fine for her [she finished second in the Spinster]. We’ll do more with her tomorrow [Thursday]. She’ll jog and then gallop 1 1/4 miles.”
Fairlie said he didn’t think the filly would have any trouble with Churchill’s dirt surface.
“She has run often on dirt and has done well,” he said, adding that she was second in the Alabama Stakes. “I think this surface is a little tighter and I believe she’ll like that even more.”
Persistently – The 4yo daughter of Smoke Glacken galloped 1m under exercise rider Cecil Putnam at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning.
Persistently scored the most high-profile victory of her career at Saratoga in August when she closed from well off the pace to upset Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the Personal Ensign Stakes.
The stretch-running filly’s connections, the Phipps Stable and trainer Shug McGaughey, campaigned Personal Ensign during an undefeated career that concluded with a victory in the Ladies’ Classic (formerly the Distaff) at Churchill Downs in 1988.
“Winning the family’s race was big. It set up perfectly for her, being a mile-and-a-quarter, and with her running style and closing ability,” said Jennifer Patterson, an exercise rider and assistant to McGaughey. “Everything set up perfectly for her that day and she trained great going into it.”
Alan Garcia, who was aboard for the Personal Ensign and a subsequent third-place finish in the Beldame at Belmont Park, has the return call.
Seeking the Title – The Seeking the Gold filly galloped 1 1/2m at Churchill on Wednesday as she prepared for the toughest test of her career. Trainer Dallas Stewart reported that she was doing fine and was "on course" for Friday's race.
When asked what he thought about the overall complexion of the race, Stewart replied "Solid. It's a rock solid race."
Unrivaled Belle – The consistent daughter of Unbridled’s Song (10 of 11 exacta finishes), runner-up in her last three starts, went to the paddock and galloped Wednesday morning and was said to be “very good” by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
The roan filly will break from post eight in a field of 11 as Mott seeks his third Breeders’ Cup victory in this race. He won it as the Distaff in 1997 (Ajina) and 1998 (Escena).
“Good post there, no complaint,” Mott said. “It’s a well-balanced field. I think the 3yo filly Blind Luck will be tough. She’s very good. Life At Ten is tough. It’s a good solid field. I don’t think the field is loaded with speed.”
Unrivaled Belle, listed at 8-1 in the morning line, chased Life At Ten in two of her most recent starts, but was unable to catch her in either race, but upset Rachel Alexandra at Churchill Downs in the La Troienne in late April.