Keeneland Odds: QE II Challenge Cup, Fayette Highlight Saturday’s Card

By Margaret Ransom

Lael Stables’ British-bred Magic Attitude, making her second North American start and first since capturing the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) by 2 ½ lengths three weeks ago, will square off against eight other sophomore fillies in Saturday’s $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1T on Saturday at Keeneland.

The Arnaud Delacour-trained daughter of Galileo is the 5-2 choice on the morning line and will have Javier Castellano back in the saddle.

American Pharoah

American Pharoah – Photo Courtesy of NYRA-Adam Coglianese

The QE II was first contested in 1984 and named in honor of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II, who attended the races at Keeneland while on a visit to central Kentucky and the local horse farms in the area. The monarch presented the trophy to the winning connections that year.

The Keeneland fall turf feature received graded status in 1986 and has been a Grade 1 since 1991. And while it hasn’t been necessarily a key prep for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), it has produced a significant number of starters for the race, as well as year-end championships in female turf divisions. A year ago, Cambier Parc was victorious, though she skipped the Breeders’ Cup, and joined a list of amazing past winners, such as Together, Vacare, Ticker Tape, Riskaverse, Affluent, Ryafan, La Guerriere and Plenty of Grace. Both Perfect Sting and Dayatthespa won this race en route to a Breeders’ Cup win and Eclipse Awards at the end of the year.

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez’s name appears five times in this race’s history as leading rider, while three trainers – John Veitch, James Toner and Chad Brown – have had three winners each.

It’s likely to rain on Saturday thanks to Hurricane Delta, so prepare for a very soft turf course and a wet main Keeneland track, though the temperature will be warm and in the lower 70s.

The 1 1/8-mile grass feature has been set as the ninth race with a 5:30 p.m. ET post time. The field:

PP
Horse
Odds
Jockey
Trainer
Pedigree
1
Harvey’s Lil Goil
3-1
Martin Garcia
Bill Mott
American Pharoah—Gloria, by Tapit
2
Sweet Melania
7-2
Flavien Prat
Todd Pletcher
American Pharoah—Gloria, by Tapit
3
Antoinette
8-1
James Graham
Bill Mott
Hard Spun—Shuruq, by Elusive Quality
4
Magic Attitude (GB)
5-2
Javier Castellano
Arnaud Delacour
Galileo—Margot Did, by Exceed And Excel
5
Lucky Betty
30-1
Declan Cannon
William VanMeter
Munnings—Cherokee Beads, by Street Sense
6
Hendy Woods
10-1
Julien Leparoux
Mark Casse
Uncle Mo—Separate Forest, by Forestry
7
Micheline
6-1
Florent Geroux
Michael Stidham
Bernardini—Panty Raid, by Include
8
California Kook
12-1
Tyler Gaffalione
Peter Miller
Boisterous—Kukaluka, by Comic Strip
9
Red Lark (IRE)
10-1
Drayden Van Dyke
Paddy Gallagher
Epaulette—Firecrest, by Darshaan

$200,000 Haygard Fayette Stakes (G2), 1 1/8 miles, 3 and up

Mirinaque

Mirinaque – Courtesy of Benoit Photo

Lucky Seven Stable’s Opening Verse Stakes winner Crafty Daddy and Grade 2 winner Mr. Freeze are among the 10 runners set to contest Saturday’s Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keenland. The 1 1/8-mile main track test carries a purse of $200,000 and will be run for the 63rd time this year.

The Fayette Stakes is named for Fayette County, Kentucky, of which the city of Lexington is located. Title sponsor Haygard is the world-renowned equine hospital, where the Davidson Surgery and McGee Medical Centers (formerly the Haygard-Davidson-McGee Equine Clinic) are based.

Handicap division leader Tom’s d’Etat won this race a year ago and added his name to a prestigious list that includes Wise Dan, Successful Dan, Midway Road, Arch, Isitingood, Judge T C, Summer Squall, Lac Ouimet and more. Don Brumfeld remains the stakes race’s leading rider with five wins and Neil Howard has tightened the girth on four winners throughout his career.

Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s Mr Freeze was second in this race last year yet hasn’t won a race in three starts since the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) in late February. He is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Alysheba (G2) on Sept. 4 at Churchill Downs. Dale Romans trains the son of To Honor and Serve, who will be ridden by Javier Castellano.

Crafty Daddy had a productive turf career up until the Opening Verse at Churchill Downs was moved to the main track due to weather. So now trainer Kenny McPeek has put the gelded son of Scat Daddy back in a dirt race hoping for a repeat victory. Brian Hernandez Jr. Will be back aboard on Saturday.

The Haygard Fayette has been carded as the day’s 8th on a 10-race program with a 4:57 p.m. ET post time. The field:

PP
Horse
Odds
Jockey
Trainer
Pedigree
1
Coastal Defense
6-1
Joe Talamo
Dale Romans
Curlin—Trensa, by Giant’s Causeway
2
Captivating Moon
5-1
Julien Leparoux
Chris Block
Malibu Moon—Appealing Storm, by Valid Appeal
3
Crafty Daddy
5-1
Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Kenny McPeek
Scat Daddy—Eager Emma, by Unbridled’s Song
4
Mirinaque (ARG)
15-1
Gerardo Corrales
Maria Munoz
Hurricane Cat—Langostura, by Honour and Glory
5
Title Ready
10-1
Corey Lanerie
D. Stewart
More Than Ready—Title Seeker, by Monarchos
6
Mr Freeze
3-1
Javier Castellano
Dale Romans
To Honor and Serve—Heavenly Cat, by Tabasco Cat
7
Rated R Superstar
20-1
Martin Garcia
Cipriano Contreras
Kodiak Kowboy—Wicked Wish, by Gold Case
8
Tax
7-2
Tyler Gaffalione
Danny Gargan
Arch—Toll, by Giant’s Causeway
9
Mo Mosa
12-1
Florent Geroux
Mike Maker
Uncle Mo—Roughing, by Eskendereya
10
Aurelius Maximus
10-1
Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Steve Asmussen
Pioneerof the Nile—La Reina, by A.P. Indy
Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters, Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager. She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several race horse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull as her favorite horse of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, three Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.