An eye-popping 16 horses have entered this year’s running of the Grade 1, $1,000,000 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes at Keeneland Race Course. The race serves as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event for the Mile on November 3 at Churchill Downs. Last year, Heart to Heart set the pace in this race, only to be caught by Suedois in the late stretch. Heart to Heart is back for revenge after winning two Grade 1 races earlier in the year. The Mile’s fourth-place finisher last year, Divisidero, is also back to take a shot at capturing a Grade 1 event.
The winner of the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Mile this fall at Churchill Downs. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the person who nominated the foal or racehorse. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based internationally.
The Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes shares the card with three other Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Races.” On Saturday, Belmont Park will also have one challenge series race, while Santa Anita Park will have two. The action continues on Sunday with Keeneland and Belmont Park each hosting three more challenge series races. Finally, the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” action comes to an end at Keeneland on October 10 with the Grade 1 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes. That race will be a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
The full field from the rail out includes: Next Shares, Divisidero, Great Wide Open, Imperative, Heart to Heart, Synchrony, Qurbaan, Multiplier, Analyze It, Voodoo Song, Almanaar, Mr. Misunderstood, Big Score, Bound for Nowhere, Zulu Alpha, and Holiday Stone.
#11 Almanaar – This gelding does not run often, with just six starts over the last three years, but when he does, he usually shows that he has a ton of talent. Last year, he won the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap before missing the rest of the season with an injury. He came back this year with an allowance win at Belmont Park, then ran a solid second in the Grade 1 Arlington Million. Now, he cuts back to a mile for this event, a distance where he found success when running overseas before shipping to this country.
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#14 Bound for Nowhere – Simply put, this horse has never lost when racing in the United States. He began his career with blowout wins at Turfway Park and Keeneland before shipping to Ascot, where he finished fourth in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup. After another loss overseas, he came home to win two in a row, including the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes here at Keeneland. That win earned him another trip to Royal Ascot, where he was a close third, beaten only 3/4 of a length. He returned to the United States last time out to win the $750,000 Tourist Mile Stakes at Kentucky Downs.
#5 Heart to Heart – America’s favorite turf horse is back for revenge after just narrowly missing out in this race last year by a 1/2-length. The 7-year-old finally became a Grade 1 winner this year when he won the Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes in February. Soon after, he shipped to Keeneland and landed another Grade 1 in the Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes. Since then, he has not won in two starts and will need to rebound after a poor sixth-place finish last time out in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga.
#9 Analyze It – This 3-year-old will try older horses for the first time after a stellar career up to this point. He is three-for-six in his career, but he has suffered three heart-breaking losses in a row. In the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge Stakes, the Grade 1 Belmont Derby, and the Grade 1 Secratariat Stakes, he has looked home free for a nice win, only to be caught late in the final stages. Those races were all at longer distances, though; at a mile, this horse is undefeated.
#6 Synchrony – There is no doubting that the turf is where he runs best. After starting his career on the dirt, his connections decided to give turf a try, and the horse has responded with five wins, two seconds, and two thirds over the lawn. He enters this race off of back-to-back Grade 3 wins at Monmouth Park in the Oceanport Stakes and the Red Bank Stakes. The only thing missing on his resume is a Grade 1 victory. He has tried only once, finishing third in the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs, where he was defeated by the classy Yoshida.
#2 Divisidero – One of the classiest turf horses in the country, he is always around at the end of the race with a chance. No matter where he runs, you can count on him showing up with a nice effort. In five starts this year, he has just one win, the Grade 3 Arlington Park Handicap. That led him to the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, where he was a late-closing third. Last time out, he tried his hand in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, finishing fifth by 3 1/2 lengths.
#1 Next Shares – This son of Aracharcharch has danced a lot of dances this season. He has run in eight stakes races overall, six of those against graded company. The 5-year-old gelding has hit the board in two Grade 1 races, missing by a 1/2-length in both. Last time out, he shipped to Kentucky Downs for the $250,000 Old Friends Stakes, which he won by a solid 1 3/4lengths.
#12 Mr. Misunderstood – You can always count on him to show up with an honest effort. He has won 11 of 19 career starts while amassing over $700,000 in total earnings. This will be his second try against Grade 1 company, with his first a sixth-place finish in the Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes at Keeneland. He has won two of his last three heading into this event, including the Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs 3 starts back.
#13 Big Score – It has been a while since we have seen a victory out of this horse. However, he has hit the board in 10 of 14 career starts, and his last win did come over this Keeneland turf course. This year, he has just two starts, with both of them being fourth-place finishes. Last time out, he dropped to the back of the pack in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile Handicap before closing nicely to only be defeated by 2 1/4 lengths.
#10 Voodoo Song – For many, this is one of the coolest horses in training. Last year, he took Saratoga by storm, winning four straight at that meet. This year, he picked up the biggest win of his career in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga. However, he lost last time out in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap, his first loss at that track. His deadliest weapon is to get out to the early lead and take them as far as he can.
#7 Qurbaan – Last time out, this 5-year-old horse made his American debut in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga. Sent off at odds of 13-1, he sat off the early pace before flying home late to win the race by a nose. The effort was very impressive considering the circumstances and is building point heading into this contest. If he can improve off of that effort, then he will be tough to handle in this race.
#15 Zulu Alpha – If he draws into the race, then he will be running for trainer John Ortiz for the first time. Last time out, this horse popped a 103 Beyer speed figure in a blowout optional claiming victory at Churchill Downs. Ortiz claimed him out of that race, which was just three weeks ago, and quickly placed him here. This shows that he must be doing well since changing barns.
#8 Multiplier – His 3-year-old season saw him compete on the dirt in races such as the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. After starting this season on that same surface, trainer Peter Miller switched him to the turf, where he immediately won an optional claiming race at Santa Anita. Since then, he has yet to win and has only hit the board once in four starts. However, all of those were against tough stakes company.
#4 Imperative – It has been a long time since this horse tried running on the turf. He is best known for his achievements on dirt, including twice winning the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic. The horse has almost $3 million in career earnings, but only $40,000 of that came from turf races. He has only seven turf starts in his 41-race career while never winning over it.
#3 Great Wide Open – This horse has struggled for most of 2018. He had failed to hit the board in a stakes race before his start last time out at Kentucky Downs. His connections took a shot in the $750,000 Tourist Mile Stakes, and it worked out well. He finished second at odds of 18-1 while setting the early pace before getting caught late by one of his competitors in this one: Bound for Nowhere.
#16 Holiday Stone – Trainer George Weaver brings this horse to Keeneland after a win last time out at Saratoga against optional claiming company. This will be his first try against Grade 1 company if he draws into this field.