We're getting closer to Breeders' Cup weekend and that means more Win and You're In races ran this past weekend with everyone vying for their chance to be in the starting gates at Santa Anita. Here's a recap of this weekend's top races.
$301,404 American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita
The American Pharoah Stakes is a 1 1/16 mile race for 2-year-olds on the dirt. Setting fast fractions of :23.72, :47.06 and 1:22.71, EIGHT RINGS proved he was much the best in Friday's American Pharoah Stakes despite having running a rather green race and having an immature moment and lapse in focus in the final furlong. AMERICAN THEOREM gave chase throughout, but the son of AMERICAN PHAROAH couldn't keep up as EIGHT RINGS pulled away from the field with an eighth of a mile remaining. AMERICAN THEOREM finished second followed by STORM THE COURT.
EIGHT RINGS had a disastrous last start in the Del Mar Futurity when he dumped Drayden Van Dyke in the opening furlong. Despite his immaturity, however, the colt earned himself a berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, a race that his trainer, Bob Baffert, has won four times.
$300,351 Chandelier Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita
COMICAL went to the front to set the pace and BAST was sent after her. COMICAL set fractions of :24.92, :49.54 and 1:13.98, giving BAST quite the challenge along the backstretch. The pair battled for the lead all the way to the second turn. At the quarter pole, the pair was still neck and neck. BAST on the outside continued to run down the leader and took the win by a head at the wire. COMICAL finished second three lengths ahead of K P DREAMIN who ran quite the race from the back of the pack to finding a hole in the homestretch and battling her way to make third.
LEUCOTHEA caused a good bit of a drama at the start after breaking awkwardly, unseating her jockey and running down the outside rail, causing photographers to have to dive to escape. BAST earned herself a berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
$282,000 Vosburgh Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park
Across the country on the East Coast, the battle for Breeders' Cup berths continued at Belmont Park. In the Vosburgh, IMPERIAL HINT was sent off as the 1-5 favorite, but the race proved to be more of a challenge than expected. The colt led by 1 ½ lengths after the half-mile, running it in :44.65. Victory was in sight for a wire to wire win until FIRENZE FIRE showed up alongside after the quarter pole. FIRENZE FIRE inched ahead for a short lead midstretch, causing Castellano to have to urge IMPERIAL HINT to battle it out at the wire, taking the win by a head bob. BROWN BUCKEYE finished third behind the pair.
IMPERIAL HINT earned himself a spot in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. The colt is likely meet up with MITOLE in that race, who won the Metropolitan Handicap but previously lost to IMPERIAL HINT by 7 1/2 lengths in the Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga.
$734, 250 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park
The Jockey Club Gold Cup was marred with a bit of controversy in the stretch duel between CODE OF HONOR and VINO ROSSO. VINO ROSSO set fractions of :47.73 and 1:11.63. PRESERVATIONIST failed to fire and TACITUS was unable to get to the lead. CODE OF HONOR rallied from fourth to battle VINO ROSSO down the stretch. The finish fans saw was VINO ROSSO passing the wire by a nose, that is until the tote board started flashing numbers and the decision came down to the stewards.
The head-on video showed VINO ROSSO, who set the pace, bumping CODE OF HONOR three times, which resulted in the Todd Pletcher trainee being knocked to second place. The decision gave CODE OF HONOR the win and a berth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. TACITUS finished third.
$300,351 Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1T) at Santa Anita
After setting fast fractions of :23.72, :47.53 and 1:110.05, MIRTH excelled under Mike Smith, hitting the wire strong 1 1/4 lengths ahead of BEAU RECALL. She was the 6-1 upset and earned herself a spot in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. BEAU RECALL finished a neck ahead of ELYSEA'S WORLD, who was unable to make mid-stretch bid.
The connections of MIRTH have every right to be excited, as the filly was just a $16,000 maiden claimer just two years ago and had six tough losses. This win more than doubled her career earnings.
$300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita
In another upset of the day, MONGOLIAN GROOM set a favorable pace with an opening half-mile of :48.29. MCKINZIE assumed his usual stalking position but found himself 2 1/4 lengths behind the front runner at the finish line. MONGOLIAN GROOM came away with the 25-1 upset and a spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic. HIGHER POWER finished third with SEEKING THE SOUL in fourth.
$200,000 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita
SECRET SPICE set the pace with quick fractions of :23.14 and :46.83. PARADISE WOODS pressed on the outside. At the turn for home, she dug in to prevail with a final time of 1:44.31 while SECRET SPICE held on for second followed by OLLIE'S CANDY in third.
The win earned the filly an all-expenses paid trip to the Breeders' Cup Distaff.