An even field of 11 horses will battle in the Summer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine this Sunday to cap off a major weekend of racing. This Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the Juvenile Turf (G1) could be the most competitive one on the continent.
Leading the charge is local hopeful Keep On Truckin, who will make his turf debut. He dominated his competition in his last two efforts, both over the synthetic surface, including last time out when he defeated his rivals by 7 3/4 lengths in the Clarendon Stakes. Among the foes that he’ll take on is the European shipper Vitalogy, who will make his North American debut for trainer Joseph O’Brien.
The winner of the Summer Stakes will receive an automatic position in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The Summer Stakes is one of two Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events this Sunday at Woodbine. The other will be the Natalma Stakes (G1), which is a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Fillies Turf. One day earlier, on Saturday, there will be three “Win and You’re In” events: the Woodbine Mile (TVG Mile), the Iroquois Stakes (TVG Juvenile), and the Pocahontas Stakes (Juvenile Fillies). The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on September 21 at Parx with the running of the Cotillion Stakes (G1). That race will be a “Win and You’re In” event for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
The field from the rail out includes: Vitalogy, Decorated Invader, Proven Strategies, Pleasecallmeback, Keep On Truckin, Mystic Lancelot, Zoological, Cucina, Secret Stash, Talking, and Cadet Connelly.
#2 Decorated Invader – This colt’s solid summer at Saratoga should have him set up for success against stakes company. He was second on debut before breaking his maiden in his next start by an eye-catching 3 1/4 lengths. It is a great sign that top New York-based jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., will come up to ride him.
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#6 Mystic Lancelot – The Todd Pletcher-trained colt has only one race under his belt, but he definitely made it count. He aired to a 3-length romp at Saratoga in a maiden special weight going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, and Pletcher’s top rider, John Velazquez, will come to Woodbine for the mount, which signals that he thinks a lot of this colt. He can get a major resume-building win here.
#5 Keep On Truckin – When talking about impressive 2-year-olds at Woodbine this season, there is no doubt that Keep On Truckin belongs at the top. He dominated his competition in both starts, including a runaway victory in the Claredon Stakes last time out. He will try the turf for the first time (both of his previous starts came on the synthetic surface), but his pedigree is well-suited for turf, so he should be able to handle the lawn without an issue.
#1 Vitalogy – Joseph O’Brien brings this colt in from overseas after a solid beginning to his career. He was able to break his maiden on debut at Naas before a solid showing in the Tattersalls Acomb Stakes (G3) at York, where he finished fourth. Joseph will look to follow in the footsteps of his father, Aidan, who has shipped horses to North America with great success in the past.
#3 Proven Strategies – This is the first of three entries for trainer Mark Casse, who holds a strong hand in many of the big stake races at Woodbine this weekend. Last year, Casse almost won this race with a maiden named War of Will, who won several races in 2019, including the Preakness Stakes (G1). A maiden himself, Proven Strategies comes into this event off of the best race of his career, a second-place effort last time out in the Skidmore Stakes at Saratoga
#9 Secret Stash – This filly will make her North American debut for trainer Mark Casse this weekend – it’s just not known exactly where. She is also entered in the Natalma Stakes (G1) on Sunday’s card, which is restricted to fillies. She won last time out in a maiden race at Bellewstown and seems to have ability, but how she handles the new racing conditions will be the major question mark.
#4 Pleasecallmeback –A solid maiden special weight score on debut earned him a shot in the Soaring Free Stakes next time out, where he finished second to Mr. Hustle by 2 1/2 lengths. That was race was contested at 6 1/2 furlongs, but his pedigree hints that he is better suited for longer races. That could make him dangerous here.
#10 Talking – This gelding has just one prior start under his belt, a maiden special weight romp at Monmouth Park for trainer Jonathan Thomas, who helped turn Catholic Boy into a Breeders’ Cup Classic contender last year. It’s a good sign that Javier Castellano will come up to take the mount, but this competition will be much more difficult than what he faced on debut.
#11 Cadet Connelly – It took this gelding six tries to break his maiden, which isn’t great, but it is positive that he did it at Woodbine. The race was his local debut as well, so there is a possibility that he really likes this track. Prior to breaking his maiden, he was second in the TAA Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Colonial Downs, giving him a little bit of class
#7 Zoological – His connections are hoping that the light bulb came on last time out when this colt picked up a local maiden special weight victory in his fourth try. The good news is that it came at this same mile-long distance on the turf. The competition gets much stiffer in this spot, which is going to be his biggest question mark.
#8 Cucina – This colt made three straight starts on the dirt to begin his career, including a maiden special weight score at Belmont Park three starts back. After that, he finished fourth in the Sanford Stakes (G3) at Saratoga before shipping to Woodbine and finishing third in the Soaring Free Stakes, beaten 4 3/4 lengths.