There are still decisions to be made over the next two months, but it is conceivable that Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott could have three horses in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.
Yoshida likely earned his way into the Classic by virtue of his two-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, the Japanese-bred colt’s first start on dirt. After saving all the ground early on, Yoshida rallied eight to nine wide in the stretch under Joel Rosario and was drawing away from Gunnevera and the other 12 runners in the bulky Woodward field.
Yoshida earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for the performance, the second-highest figure of his 11-race career. Yoshida earned a 106 when he won the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
“The most impressive part of the whole performance was crossing the wire as easy as he was doing it,” Mott said Sunday morning.
Mott acknowledged that Yoshida was a bit tired but said he otherwise came out of the Woodward in good order.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic is run at 1 1/4 miles. Yoshida, a son of Heart’s Cry, has recorded four of his five wins at 1 1/8 miles. In his only start at 1 1/4 miles, Yoshida finished fifth in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby on turf in his fourth career start.
In separate interviews Sunday, Mott and Elliott Walden, president and chief executive of WinStar Farm, which owns Yoshida with China Horse Club, SF Racing, and Head of Plains Partners, indicated their first inclination is to point Yoshida to the Breeders’ Cup Classic without having another race before then. Yoshida ran in the Woodward just three weeks after finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Fourstardave.
“At this juncture, we’ve had greater success at more than a mile, although it hasn’t been 10 furlongs,” said Mott, who has won the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice.
Meanwhile, Mott reiterated Sunday that the Classic is still a possibility for Elate, the 4-year-old filly who finished second behind Abel Tasman in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga on Aug. 25. Elate is 2 for 2 at 1 1/4 miles with wins against females in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga last year and the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap in July.
Mott said Elate would most likely be pre-entered in both the BC Distaff, a 1 1/8-mile race against females, and the Classic. Elate will likely make her next start in the Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont Park on Oct. 6.
Speaking of the Classic, Mott said he and Elate’s owners, Adele Dilschneider and representatives of Claiborne Farm, have “thrown it up in the air. I don’t think anything’s been written in stone. It’s certainly something we need to consider. We want to give her her best chance.”
The 3-year-old Hofburg could be Mott’s third contender in the Classic. The runner-up in the Florida Derby and third-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes, Hofburg missed the Travers due to a temperature. He has recently resumed training and is likely going to make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 22.
Hofburg, who won the Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on July 27, could have a workout as early as Monday morning.
“I might have talked myself into three of these things in the Classic,” Mott said.
Mott won the BC Classic in 1995 with Cigar and in 2011 with Drosselmeyer. In 2012, he ran three horses in the Classic: Flat Out (third), Ron the Greek (fourth), and To Honor and Serve (10th).
Gunnevera, the runner-up in the Woodward, came out of his race in good order and vanned back to South Florida on Sunday morning to prepare for the BC Classic. Trainer Antonio Sano noted that Gunnevera ran 54 feet farther than did Yoshida.
“His race was good,” Sano said, noting that the 1 1/4 miles of the Classic will be “better for my horse.”
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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