Virginia Connected Horses Well Represented in This Weekend’s Breeders’ Cup Races

Virginia-bred and connected horses are sure to have an impact on this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup Championships at Del Mar, where 13 “Cup” races are scheduled between Friday and Saturday. The Distaff, Juvenile Turf, Sprint and Turf will have the Commonwealth represented well.

Virginia-bred Stellar Wind will conclude a spectacular racing career Friday in the $2 Million Distaff. She will face 7 other elite fillies and mares in the 9th race at 7:35 PM. Stellar Wind will be ridden by Victor Espinoza and is the early 5-2 favorite. The 5 year old Curlin mare will seek redemption for a loss in last year’s Distaff, the only blemish in her six most recent Grade I starts. She prevailed this year in the Clement Hirsch, Beholder Mile and Apple Blossom Handicap and in 2016’s Zenyatta and Clement Hirsch Stakes. She enters the Distaff with career earnings of $2,233,200 from 15 starts. Stellar Wind is out of the Malibu Moon mare, Evening Star, and was bred by Peggy Augustus’ Keswick Stables & Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Inc.

Hronis Racing’s Stellar Wind and jockey Victor Espinoza, outside, outleg Beholder (GaryStevens), inside, to win the Grade I, $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes, Saturday, October 1, 2016 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA.

Catholic Boy is a 2 year old Kentucky-bred that is trained by Jonathan Thomas, son of Virginia Equine Alliance’s Track Superintendent, John Dale Thomas. The More Than Ready colt will compete Friday in the $1 Million Juvenile Turf, scheduled as the 8th race at 6:50 PM. He enters the race 2-for-2 in his young career and comes in fresh off a triumph in the Grade 3 With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga. Catholic Boy, who is out of Song of Bernadette by Bernardini,  previously broke his maiden July 20th at Gulfstream. He is 12-1 early and will face a full field of freshmen.

Catholic Boy won his first graded stakes at Saratoga August 30th.

Sadler’s Joy is owned and bred by Lauren and Rene Woolcott of Woodslane Farm in The Plains, Virginia. The talented 4 year old son of Kitten’s Joy will compete in Saturday’s $4 Million Longines Turf, the 11th race on the card at 7:37 PM. The stakes will immediately precede the $6 Million Classic. Sadler’s Joy is 12-1 early and will face 13 other foes on grass. Just over two months ago, he authored a thrilling last to first stretch drive comeback to capture the Grade I Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga. Most recently, he finished fourth in the Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic September 30th at Belmont. Sadler’s Joy has earned $882,480 this year and $1,027,968 in his career. He is a Kentucky-bred and is out of the Dynaformer mare, Dynaire.

The gang from Woodslane farm cheered Sadler’s Joy to victory in the Grade I Sword Dancer from the Ponies & Pints OTB in downtown Richmond.

Drefong was the 2016 Eclipse Award Champion Sprinter and seeks to score back-to-back wins in the $1.5 Million Twin Spires Sprint.

Drefong, co-bred by Virginia Anthony Warrender, won the Grade I Forego at Saratoga August 26th. Photo courtesy of NYRA.

Ten horses will go to post in Race 8 Saturday at 5:37 PM, and Drefong is the 5-2 favorite. Virginia Anthony Warrender co-bred the 4 year old Gio Ponti colt, who has bankrolled over $1.5 million from only 8 starts. In addition to last year’s “Cup” victory, he has earned Grade I triumphs at Saratoga in the Forego Stakes this year and in the King’s Bishop last year. The Bob Baffert trainee is out of Eltimaas by Ghostzapper.