Breeders' Cup

TCA Stakes Preview: Competitive Field Takes Aim at Breeders’ Cup

Curlin's Approval Winning the Grade 2 Royal Delta Stakes at Gulfstream Park (Photo: Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photo)

A field of 10 is set to battle in this year’s running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keenelend Race Course. The race serves as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event for the Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Sprint on November 3 at Churchill Downs. The field for this year’s event is evenly-matched, which should make for a solid betting opportunity. Curlin’s Approval is the only horse entered that has competed in a Breeders’ Cup race in the past. She finished 13th in last year’s Filly & Mare Sprint after breaking poorly and failing to show up with her best effort. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione, who is unbeaten in two starts aboard Curlin’s Approval, will have the mount in this race.

The winner of the Thoroughbred Club of American Stakes will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint 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 2 Thoroughbred Club of America 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.

Here is the field from the rail out: Rich Mommy, Torrent, Miss Sunset, Vertical Oak, Awestruck, Happy Like a Fool, Golden Mischief, Curlin’s Approval, Chalon, and Crazy Sweet.

Top Choice

#9 Chalon – The runner-up from last year’s running of the race is back to give it another shot. Last year, she took the lead early in the race, only to be caught late by Finley’sluckycharm in a 1 3/4-length defeat. Since that contest, she has two wins in four starts, including a victory last out at Monmouth Park in the $75,000 Regret Stakes. Javier Castellano has the mount, rather than regular rider Paco Lopez.

Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers

#7 Golden Mischief – Since moving to the barn of Brad Cox, this filly has run some tremendous races and comes into this spot on a two-win streak. Two races back, she shipped to Prairie Meadows to win the $100,000 Saylorville Stakes by 5 lengths, then parlayed that win with another blowout 7 1/4-length triumph in a small $75,000 stakes at Mountaineer. Those wins have propelled her back to graded stakes company in this spot.

#3 Miss Sunset – This California-bred has superior speed, which always makes her dangerous in sprint races. Three races back, she shipped to Keeneland for the Grade 1 Madison Stakes and narrowly missed by a nose. In 2017, she shipped to Keeneland and picked up a win in the Grade 2 Raven Run Stakes. Those two efforts prove that she runs very well away from California, which is something that other California-bred horses struggle with at times.

Exotic Plays

#4 Vertical Oak – Trainer Steve Asmussen brings this filly back to Keeneland after finishing seventh in this race a year ago. That was a discouraging effort and ended up being one of the worst of her career. The good news is that she has been solid ever since, winning two of her five starts since that loss. She has also hit the board in all five, which speaks to how consistent she has become.

#10 Crazy Sweet – For the first time ever, this filly ships away from Presque Isle Downs. She has made 13 career starts, all at the Pennsylvania-based track. Seven of those were wins, with three seconds and a third as well. Last time out, she moved up in class to the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters Stakes to finish a solid third, defeated by 4 1/4 lengths. We will find out if she can take her show on the road, as she has shown a good bit of talent.

Party Crashers

#6 Happy Like a Fool – This 3-year-old takes on older horses for the first time while also returning from a long layoff. We have not seen her since May 18 when she dominated rivals in the Grade 3 Ms. Preakness Stakes. She took the lead from the start of that race and put everyone away in the stretch to win by 6 1/2 lengths. Her workouts suggest that she is ready to run here.

Throw Outs

#8 Curlin’s Approval – The class of the race, this multiple graded stakes winner does her best work at Gulfstream Park, which makes this race a challenge. Her only start at Keeneland was an off-the-board finish, but she gets Tyler Gaffalione to ride, and he is undefeated when aboard.

#5 Awestruck – She started the year off with two straight victories, one of which came over this track against allowance company. Since those wins, she moved up in class but lost three straight. However, all of those races came in two-turn contests, which means that she could show solid improvement while cutting back in distance here. She has two wins from three starts when running at Keeneland, which is another good sign.

#1 Rich Mommy – Consistency is this filly’s greatest asset. She has hit the board in 12 of 14 career starts. This year, she has yet to win but has shown consistency with three of four on-the-board finishes. Last time out, she was second in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney Stakes, finishing 6 lengths behind the winner at odds of 14-1.

#2 Torrent – This filly opened up the year with a victory at Oaklawn Park against optional claiming company while running well to round at the meet in Arkansas. After that, she tried facing tougher company, but she has struggled to make an impact in any of her last four starts. Her return to Keeneland could be good news, though, as she has never run off the board in two stats at this track.

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