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Horses at the gate.

Free-to-Enter Handicapping Contest Continues; Amy’s Challenge Has Set Back

Canterbury’s Horse of the Meet, Amy’s Challenge, will not race Friday at Keeneland after suffering severe cramping, know as tying up, earlier this week at the Lexington, KY racetrack. Read more about it in this report from DRF’s Nicole Russo.

Amy’s Challenge recorded the highest Beyer Speed Figures of any filly in North America in her two wins at Canterbury Park this summer. There is a chance she races later in the Keeneland meet according to trainer Mac Robertson.

The weekly Countdown to the Cup Handicapping Contest continues this Saturday with a noon entry deadline. The featured track is Keeneland as it will be for the remainder of the contest through Oct. 28. Keeneland has a stakes-filled program Saturday including these races:  $1 Million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1), $400,000 First Lady (G1), $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2), $200,000 Woodford (G2) Presented by Keeneland Select.

Entry to the contest is free. Players must select one horse in each of Keeneland’s 10 races and earn points based on a mythical across-the-board wager. The five top total scores for the day earn a betting bankroll for Breeders’ Cup weekend, Nov. 3 and 4.

Congrats to the Week 2 winners:

$200 Breeders’ Cup Bankroll – Alex Meyer

$100 Breeders’ Cup Bankroll – Jesse Overton

$100 Breeders’ Cup Bankroll – Robin Dawe

$100 Breeders’ Cup Bankroll – Matt Wiebke

$100 Breeders’ Cup Bankroll – Dan Ovando

Breeders’ Cup notes provided by Breeders’ Cup publicity staff:

Keeneland, Belmont Take Center Stage for Final Set of Breeders’ Cup Auditions

Friday’s kickoff to a tremendous Opening Weekend at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., along with a huge Saturday and Sunday at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., headline the final Breeders’ Cup Challenge weekend, which sees 13 automatic qualifiers take place. The Shadwell Turf Mile headlines an eight-race Challenge schedule at Keeneland, while the Jockey Club Gold Cup tops four at Belmont and will offer the final berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Toss in the “Win and You’re In” Santa Anita Sprint Championship in Arcadia, Calif., and the first Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar will be front and center by Sunday evening, as the majority of the heavy lifting will be complete.

Keeneland’s “Fall Stars” weekend is sure to live up to the billing, as all eight Challenge races will play a pivotal role in their respective Breeders’ Cup division during the first three days of the 17-day meet. Saturday, the “Win and You’re In” action is led by the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (GI), which will award an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile, though it’s far from the only highlight on a Challenge schedule that also includes the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (GI, Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), First Lady (GI, Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf) and Thoroughbred Club of America (GII, Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint).

Juddmonte Farm’s homebred TIME TEST (GB) will likely go favored for trainer Chad Brown, even though he’s been runner-up in all three U.S. starts this year. The 5-year-old son of Dubawi (IRE) was transferred from Roger Charlton’s barn in Europe after a 2016 campaign that saw him win the York (GII) to close out his year in July and made his first start for Brown when he was second in Aqueduct’s Fort Marcy (GIII) in May. Time Test, who is 6-for-14 lifetime, was also second in Belmont’s Manhattan (GI) in June and enters off a second-place finish to divisional leader World Approval in Saratoga’s Fourstardave (GI) August 12.

Terry Hamilton’s HEART TO HEART, second in the local Maker’s 46 Mile (GI) the last two years, rates a legitimate wire-to-wire threat for trainer Brian Lynch, while WinStar Farm’s homebred AMERICAN PATRIOT upset the Maker’s Mark this year for trainer Todd Pletcher but has been well-beaten in both starts since. Grade I winners DIVISIDERO and MONDIALISTE (IRE) are also expected for the “Win and You’re In” Shadwell Turf Mile, as are BALLAGH ROCKS, LE KEN (ARG), OFFERING PLAN and SUEDOIS (FR), while LANCASTER BOMBER is possible.

The $500,000 Claiborne Futurity, run at 1 1/16 miles, is headlined by Carolyn Wilson’s THE TABULATOR, who already earned a berth into the Juvenile with his victory in Churchill Downs’ “Win and You’re In” Iroquois (GIII) September 16 for trainer Larry Rivelli. The 2-year-old son of Dialed In is 3-for-3 lifetime, which includes a win in Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows in July.

Albaugh Family Stable’s FREE DROP BILLY, who was second in two Saratoga stakes starts this summer for trainer Dale Romans, including a neck beat in the Hopeful (GI) September 4, will make his two-turn debut, as will Valene Farm’s GIVEMEAMINUTE, who was just a neck behind when third in the Hopeful for trainer Dallas Stewart. TEN CITY, who was third in the Iroquois, is also expected for the “Win and You’re In” Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, as are sharp maiden winners BOURBON RESOLUTION, BRAVAZO, LONE ROCK, LONE SAILOR and STRONGER.

The 1-mile, $400,000 First Lady will have an extremely strong field, with The Club Racing, Needle In a Haystack and Sagamore Farm’s MISS TEMPLE CITY leading the way for trainer Graham Motion. The 5-year-old daughter of Temple City has been a superstar over the Keeneland turf, going 4-2-2-0 on the course, which includes grade I wins over males in last year’s Maker’s Mark and Shadwell Turf Mile. Overall, Miss Temple City is 7-for-19 lifetime and got a confidence boost in her last start, when she won the Ladies Turf at Kentucky Downs September 9.

Dom Felipe’s DONA BRUJA (ARG) will cut back for trainer Ignacio Correas after a dead-heat second in Arlington Park’s August 12 “Win and You’re In” Beverly D. (GI), an automatic qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, while Godolphin’s DICKINSON won the local Jenny Wiley (GI) in April over divisional leader Lady Eli but has lost three straight since for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Graded stakes winners HAWKSMOOR (IRE), ROCA ROJO (IRE) and ZIPESSA are also likely for the “Win and You’re In” First Lady.

The $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America, run at six furlongs, is expected to draw a short field, with Carl Moore’s FINLEY’SLUCKYCHARM looming as a decisive favorite for trainer Bret Calhoun. The 4-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy is 8-for-11 lifetime and 3-for-4 this year, including grade III wins in Churchill’s Winning Colors and Chicago and was just second, beaten a neck, to divisional leader Paulassilverlining in Saratoga’s Honorable Miss (GII) July 26.

Claiborne Farm’s homebred BENDABLE, who won the Desert Stormer (GIII) in June at Santa Anita for trainer Richard Mandella, as well as Kirk and Judy Robison’s VERTICAL OAK, who aired in the Prioress (GII) September 3 at Saratoga for trainer Steve Asmussen, are also expected for the “Win and You’re In” Thoroughbred Club of America, as are I’M A LOOKER, IVY BELL, MOIETY and SWEET KHALESI

Alcibiades, Phoenix Highlight Opening Day

The “Win and You’re In” action kicks off with Friday’s Opening Day card, with the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (GI) offering an automatic starting berth into the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and the $250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (GII) awarding a berth into the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint, respectively.

The Alcibiades, run at 1 1/16 miles, drew a few stakes winners still trying to make up the pecking order in the local 2-year-old filly ranks. Dawn and Ike Thrash’s KELLY’S HUMOR could be a slight favorite over nine rivals off her second in Churchill Downs’ September 16 “Win and You’re In” Pocahontas (GII), another automatic qualifier for the Juvenile Fillies. The daughter of two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute (2007 and 2008) won the Ellis Park Debutante in August for trainer Brad Cox before suffering her lone defeat in three starts in the Pocahontas.

A solid bid is also expected from Lothenbach Stable’s BET SHE WINS, who won the Arlington Lassie at Arlington Park by 9 ½ lengths for trainer Chris Block.  The filly is owned by Robert Lothenbach of Wayzata, Minn. CAROLINE THE GREAT, DANCING, HEAVENLY LOVE, OVERLY THINKING, PRINCESS WARRIOR PACIFIC GALE, and SASSY SIENNA have also been entered in the “Win and You’re In” Darley Alcibiades.

The six-furlong Phoenix has an 11 horse field, led by Katherine Ball’s homebred LIMOUSINE LIBERAL and Bob LaPenta’s WHITMORE. The former, a 5-year-old son of Successful Appeal, was second, beaten a neck in the Phoenix last year for trainer Ben Colebrook and has won of 3-of-5 this year, including the Churchill Downs (GII) in May. The latter, a 4-year-old son of 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect, was an early-season divisional leader for trainer Ron Moquett off a trio of stakes wins, including the Maryland Sprint (GIII) at Pimlico in May, but has lost two straight, including when third-place at 1-2 in the DeFrancis Dash (GIII) at Laurel Park September 16.

PJG Stable’s FAVORITE TALE was third in the Sprint over the track in 2015 and was second in his lone start this year in Parx Racing’s Banjo Picker Sprint September 2 for trainer Guadalupe Preciado, while Ammerman Racing’s THREEFIVEINDIA exits a solid optional claiming win at Saratoga August 26 for trainer Chad Brown. AWESOME BANNER, IT’S THE JOURNEY, MR. MANNING, LOOSE ON THE TOWN, RICHARD THE GREAT, SEVENTH SENSE (TUR), and UNCONTESTED are entered in the “Win and You’re In” Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix.

Spinster, Bourbon Headline Sunday Card

Sunday’s $500,000 “Win and You’re In” Juddmonte Spinster (GI), run at 1 1/8 miles, will award an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff and, along with the “Win and You’re In” Dixiana Bourbon (GIII), will anchor the final Breeders’ Cup Challenge telecast and will air on NBCSN from 5-6:00 p.m. ET.

The Sprinter is expected to have a compact field, with G. Watts Humphrey’s homebred ROMANTIC VISION leading the way off her win in Churchill’s Locust Grove (GIII) September 16 for trainer Rusty Arnold. The 5-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid is 5-for-18 lifetime and won her first career graded stakes at Churchill when she beat Merriebelle Stable’s BLUE PRIZE (ARG), who has been second in all four U.S. starts this year for trainer Ignacio Correas. The 4-year-old daughter of Pure Prize was a dual-grade I winner in her native Argentina before coming to the U.S. late last year and is 2-for-8 lifetime.

John Gunther’s homebred TIGER MOTH, who was third in the Locust Grove for trainer Brad Cox, and MARTINI GLASS and MO D’AMOUR are also expected for the Juddmonte Spinster.

The $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon, run at 1 1/16 miles, will award an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and is expected to draw an overflow field of 2-year-olds looking to give definition to a division that is always wide open at this point in the year. The Bourbon could be led by Jerry Durant’s BUDRO TALKING, who is undefeated in two starts for trainer Danny Pish, including a win in his turf debut in Louisiana Downs’ Sunday Silence September 9, which gives him a leg up on a group that figures to be made up of mostly maiden turf winners.

Hoolie Racing Stable’s ADMIRALTY PIER, who was third in another “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Turf, Woodbine’s September 17 Summer (GII), and Run For The Cross’ HIGH PROVIDENCE, second in the Sunday Silence for trainer Jason Meaux, are also scheduled to run in the “Win and You’re In” Dixiana Bourbon, as are ARAWAK, DIAMOND OOPS, FLAMEAWAY, FRED’STWIRLINCANDY, JOHN TIPPMANN, MACHTREE, TAP DADDY, TIGERS RULE, TRENTON TRAVELER and WICKED TRICK.

Jockey Club Gold Cup Tops Quartet of Weekend Challenge Races at Belmont

Belmont’s Fall Championship Meet peaks Saturday, when the $750,000 “Win and You’re In” Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) will award the last-of-7 automatic qualifiers for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, while the $500,000 “Win and You’re In” Champagne (GI) will offer a berth into the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

The Gold Cup, run at 1 ¼ miles, is shaping up as a wide-open race, with favoritism up for grabs, though Donegal Racing’s KEEN ICE could get the nod, as he’s the most well-known and starts as one of three for trainer Todd Pletcher. The 5-year-old son of 2007 Breeders’ Classic winner Curlin was third in last year’s Classic at Santa Anita, won the track and distance Suburban (GII) in July and enters off a second-place finish to divisional leader Gun Runner in another Classic qualifier, Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Whitney August 5. Keen Ice, who also beat American Pharoah in Saratoga’s Travers (GI) in 2015 when trained by Dale Romans, is just 3-for-23 lifetime, but two of those wins came at 1 ¼ miles.

The most intriguing runner is Paul Reddam’s PAVEL, who blitzed the field by 6 in the Smarty Jones (GIII) at Parx Racing September 4 for trainer Doug O’Neill and will tackle older horses for the first time, while making just his fourth lifetime start. The son of Creative Cause won his debut sprinting at Santa Anta in July then was fourth in Saratoga’s Jim Dandy (GII) later that month. WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and Head of Plains Partner’s GOOD SAMARITAN, third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita, won the Jim Dandy in his dirt debut but was just fifth in their Travers (GI) as the favorite August 26, will also debut against older horses, while Pletcher’s DESTIN and RALLY CRY will get some support in the “Win and You’re In” Jockey Club Gold Cup, as will the speedy DIVERSIFY.

The one-mile Champagne is expected to lure a talented, albeit unproven, field that will test Belmont’s demanding one-turn mile. Favoritism could go any number of different ways, but Godolphin’s homebred ENTICED impressed in his debut win at Saratoga for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and the 2-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro is bred to be a star, as mom It’s Tricky was a three-time grade I winner. Woodford Racing’s ENGAGE, a son of Into Mischief, will get plenty of support for trainer Chad Brown and looked good winning his second career start at Saratoga September 4.

Gold Square’s AVEENU MALCAINU, who is undefeated in two starts against New York breds, including the August 25 Funny Cide for trainer Jeremiah Englehart, and Mr. Amore Stable’s FIRENZE FIRE, who won Saratoga’s Sanford (GIII) in July for trainer Jason Servis but was just fourth in their Hopeful (GI) September 4, are also major players, as are sharp but unproven Saratoga maiden winners HAZIT and HONORABLE TREASURE. BAHAMIAN, CREA’S BKLYN LAW, KOWBOW KARMA and STRONGER could also run in the “Win and You’re In” Champagne.

Flower Bowl, Frizette Offer Bids Sunday

Sunday the “Win and You’re In” action continues at Belmont with $500,000 Flower Bowl (GI), which will award an automatic starting berth into the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and the $400,000 Frizette (GI), which will offer up a berth into the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

The Flower Bowl may be short on entries, but it’s shaping up as serious tilt, with trainer Chad Brown holding a pair of major players in Sheep Pond Partners and Bradley Thoroughbreds’ DACITA (CHI) and Juddmonte Farm’s homebred GRAND JETE (GB), 1-2 finishers of Arlington Park’s “Win and You’re In” Beverly D. (GI) August 12. The former, a 6-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy, won the berth into the Filly & Mare Turf that the Beverly D. awarded, but it was the latter, a 4-year-old daughter of Dansili (GB), who was probably best after encountering heavy traffic entering the far turn and not getting out until it was too late, yet still closing with a rush to dead-heat for second. Dacita, who was ninth in the Filly & Mare Turf in 2015 at Keeneland, is 10-for-19 lifetime, while Grand Jete, who won the Eatontown (GIII) at Monmouth Park in June, is 4-for-12 lifetime.

Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum’s NEZWAAH (GB) is expected to add some international appeal for trainer Roger Varian. The 4-year-old daughter of Dubawi (IRE) won The Curragh’s Pretty Polly (GI) in July then was fourth in York’s August 24 “Win and You’re In” Darley Yorkshire Oaks (GI), also an automatic qualifier for the Filly & Mare Turf, when finishing behind the superstar filly Enable (GB), who Saturday added to her legend in Chantilly’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (GI, see race recap below). Stakes winner GUILTY TWELVE is also a likely starter in the “Win and You’re In” Flower Bowl, while GRATEFUL, PUCA and WAR FLAG are all possible.

The one mile Frizette will be led by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable and Michael Imperio’s LADY IVANKA, who already earned a berth into the Juvenile Fillies when she won Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Spinaway (GI) September 2 for trainer Rudy Rodriguez. The 2-year-old daughter of Tiz Wonderful is 2-for-2 lifetime and has a stalking style that figures to appreciate the added distance.

Klaravich Stable’s SEPARATIONOFPOWERS will offer the main danger for trainer Chad Brown and the daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) will try to turn the tables after running third as the favorite in the Spinaway, while Saratoga maiden winners CALEDONIA ROAD, CRITIQUE and PURRFECT MISS must all be respected in the “Win and You’re In” Frizette. PACIFIC, WALL OF COMPASSION and YESTERDAY’S NEWS are all possible, as is MAYA MALIBU, who was second in the Spinaway and would be a huge threat, though she is more likely to run Friday in Keeneland’s “Win and You’re In” Alcibiades (GI, see preview above), another automatic qualifier for the Juvenile Fillies.

Sprint Bid on the Line in Santa Anita Sprint Championship

Saturday’s $300,000 “Win and You’re In” Santa Anita Sprint Championship (GI) will award a starting berth into the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint and the six-furlong test will likely have a short but competitive field, led by Agave Racing Stable and Jeff Wilke’s RANSOM THE MOON. The 5-year-old son of Malibu Moon already qualified for the Sprint with his win in Del Mar’s “Win and You’re In” Bing Crosby (GI) July 29 and also won the local Kona Gold (GII) in May and is 5-for-19 lifetime.

WinStar Farm, Head of Plains Partners and China Horse Club’s AMERICAN ANTHEM will test older horses for the first time for trainer Bob Baffert. The 3-year-old son of Bodemeister was on the Triple Crown Trail this winter but was well-beaten in both the Rebel (GII) at Oaklawn Park in March and Santa Anita Derby (GI) in May and has found a new home at one-turn since. American Anthem, who is 3-for-7 lifetime, won the local Laz Barrera (GIII) in May and Belmont Park’s Woody Stephens (GII) in June and was third in Saratoga’s Allen Jerkens (GI) August 26.

Gatto Racing’s GIANT EXPECTATIONS, who earned a berth into the Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile when he won Del Mar’s “Win and You’re In” Pat O’Brien (GII) August 26 for trainer Peter Eurton, is also expected for the “Win and You’re In” Santa Anita Sprint Championship, as are stakes winner MR. HINX and OCHO OCHO OCHO.