Big day at Keeneland yields four Breeders’ Cup berths, but one tragic end

Suedois and jockey Danny Tudhope win the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.
Suedois and jockey Danny Tudhope win the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.

He had only been in Kentucky a week, and after the race his jockey had a little trouble finding where to weigh in, but the French-bred Suedois had no trouble navigating a 14-horse field to win the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Saturday.

The win gave Suedois automatic entry into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile and was part of a slate of five graded stakes, four of which earned automatic berths into the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 3-4 at Del Mar in California. Sadly, one of the day’s entries, a 2-year-old colt trained by Kenny McPeek, had to be euthanized after breaking down in the eighth race.

Riding midpack as the field exited the final turn, Scottish jockey Danny Tudhope swung his 6-year-old gelding wide and asked for a burst in the final quarter mile. He got it. The 9-1 shot passed six horses down the stretch to win by a half-length in front of crowd of 28,763.

“I didn’t want to get (to the front) too soon,” said Tudhope, who stands a bit taller than many jockeys at 5-foot-8. “He finished really strong. He handled the track really well.”

Tudhope and Suedois trainer David O’Meara ran last with Mondialiste at last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile after running fourth with the same horse in the 2016 Shadwell. O’Meara said he would need to confirm with Suedois owners on whether they would accept the bid.

O’Meara has had success in the United States, winning the Arlington Million in 2016 and the Woodbine Mile in 2015. He was confident in Suedois, who won his last time out in the Solonaway Boomerang (G2) in Ireland.

“We’ve tested him in five or six Group 1’s in England and Ireland last year, mainly in England, actually, and he was hitting the woodwork in them all, and he was placed in most of them.” O’Meara said. “It’s always something I wanted to do is to step him up to a mile and since he’s come up to a mile, he’s won two out of two.”

Suedois paid $21.40, $8.60 and $6.40. Heart to Heart, the 2-1 favorite, finished second for $4 and $3.40. Ballagh Rocks (6-1) took third and paid $4.40. 

A win and a loss

A fatal injury marred the $500,000 Clairborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) won by the Dale Romans-trained Free Drop Billy.

Jockey Corey Lanerie pulled up Ten City as the 2-year-old dark bay colt stumbled after boldly moving to the front along the final turn. The initial report from Dr. Mary Scollay on the NBC telecast was a broken front left leg. McPeek later reported Ten City had been euthanized.

“Sorry to share Ten City won’t survive this,” McPeek said on Twitter. “I’m sick for the horse, my clients and staff.”

Free Drop Billy, the 3-2 favorite owned by Albaugh Family Stables, emerged from the pack at the top of the stretch and pulled away to win by four lengths. It was his second win in only his fourth start and the first race he’s run around two turns.

“We always thought (the distance, 1 1/16 miles, would suit him).” Romans said. “If you look at all his numbers on paper, every time they stretched a race a bit, he got a little bit better. Today I think we saw what he is really capable of.”

Free Drop Billy paid $5, $3.80 and $2.80. Bravazo, a 47-1 shot, took second for $25.20 and $12.80 and Lone Sailor (17-1) finished third for $8.80. The unlikely trifecta was the best of the day, paying $1,966.60.

Lady with Zip

Zipessa, a 16-1 shot, pulled alongside the pacesetting Hawksmoor down the stretch and powered past to win the $400,000 First Lady (G1) and gain entry into the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Julien Leparoux took Hawksmoor to the lead early, pulling out by three lengths at the half mile pole, but Joe Bravo aboard Zipessa steadily reeled her in as they moved along the backstretch and final turn.

“This filly, she can relax,” Bravo said. “She’s gotten bigger, smarter, with age she’s just gotten to be a better horse … She’s just getting better and better.”

Zipessa, a 5-year-old chestnut mare trained by Michael Stidham, has five wins in her career. This is her first Grade 1 stakes win. She stared down Hawksmoor along the top of the stretch before pulling away to win by 1½ lengths, paying $35.20, $12, and $4.80. Hawksmoor (5-1) finished second for $6 and $3.80 and Roca Roja, a 2-1 co-favorite, finished third for $2.80.

Both kinds of luck

Finley’sluckycharm came off the pace late and eased to victory in the final furlong of the $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2).

The 4-5 favorite, with Brian Hernandez Jr. up, looked comfortable throughout the 6 furlongs, but the late charge wasn’t expected. She didn’t break as well from the gate as she normally does, but Hernandez didn’t panic.

“She changed our game plan on us today,” Hernandez said. “She’s a good filly and I guess you can do that with these good fillies. I was really proud of her that last eighth of a mile, how fast she came home.”

Chalon, at 11-1, came in second. Longshot True Romance (38-1) was third.

Betting windows closed prematurely ahead of the race and were down for a few minutes. After a slight delay, the No. 8 horse Ivy Bell dismounted jockey Shaun Bridgmohan as the 4-year-old filly was loaded into the gate. She was subsequently scratched.

Woodford upset

Bucchero, a 26-1 shot, took down a field that included three horses that went off at 5-2 in the $200,000 Woodford Presented by Keeneland Select (G2).

The 5-year-old chestnut trained by Tim Glyshaw took command on the frontstretch with jockey Fernando De Le Cruz up. He paid $55.20, $17.20 and $7.40. Hogy, one of the 5-2 favorites paid $4.20 and $2.80. Mongolian Saturday , at 7-2, took third for $3.60. That made for the day’s best exacta, paying $237.20.

Double time

Shuttles ran almost all day from Kroger Field to Keeneland and back for racing and football fans taking in a Keeneland-UK football doubleheader.

The thousands at the track in UK blue included Michael Barrera, visiting his sister Claire with their parents for the weekend from Chicago. Claire is a student at UK. This is their third year doing the double. They took the Lextran shuttle from Kroger Field.

“I feel like it’s part of the tradition of Kentucky,” Michael Barrera said. “You’ve got to see the horse races before you see the football. It’s part of it. It’s different from other schools and other places. I like it.”

Tom Leach, the voice of the Wildcats on the UK Radio Network, also works for Keeneland year-round, and acknowledged the doing the double makes for a long work day, but “it’s fun work.”

Leach had to cut his race day a shorter than fans might have to get ready for the UK-Missouri game, but he thinks it’s a great experience.

“I used to do that when I was growing up. My dad and I would come out here, then go over to the game at night,” Leach said. “Every October there were two or three of those because in those days the game times were pretty much either 1:30 or 7 o’clock.”

UK game times are less predictable now with TV rights, but the Oct. 28 Tennessee game might offer another doubleheader opportunity.

Keeneland Fall Meet

When: Through Oct. 28 (no racing Mondays and Tuesdays)

First post: 1:05 p.m. each racing day