A field of a dozen 2-year-old fillies, headed by Sorority winner Runup, are set to go to post in the 70th running of the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes (G1) that serves as the centerpiece of the Oct. 8 opening day program of the Keeneland Fall Meet.
The 1 1/16-mile main track test is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race with the winner getting a fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) to be held Nov. 5 at Del Mar.
Owned and bred by James McIngvale, Runup has won both of her starts on dirt highlighted by a three-length victory at Monmouth Park in the one-mile Sorority in her first two-turn test. Trained by Laura Wohlers, Runup will be ridden by Joseph Ramos and leave from post position 12.
Another entrant with two-turn experience is Mama Rina, runner-up in the Pocahontas Stakes (G3) last month while going 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs. Owned by the partnership of Harold Lerner, AWC Stables, Nehoc Stables, Scott Akman and Paul Braverman et al, and trained by five-time Alcibiades winner Kenny McPeek, Mama Rina will be ridden by Julien Leparoux from post position six.
Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox won the Alcibiades in 2019 with British Idiom, who came back four weeks later to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita en route to divisional honors. Cox is hoping for a repeat of such history when he sends out Godolphin’s Matareya and Albaugh Family Stables’ Juju’s Map in the race.
“We have always thought highly of her,” Cox said of Matareya, who won her lone start by 4½ lengths at Ellis Park on Aug. 20. “Juju’s Map, I like her a lot. She is a little more seasoned than Matareya, and she has won at a mile (at Ellis Park).”
Three runners coming out of Grade 1 tests are in the field: Sequist and Dream Lith, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the seven-furlong Spinaway Sept. 5 at Saratoga, and Myfavoritedaughter, fourth in the TVG Del Mar Debutante Sept. 5.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Lori Gervais, Charles Pigg, Tom Andres and Karen Kraft and trained by Dallas Stewart, Sequist won on debut at Colonial Downs before going to the Spinaway. Junior Alvarado has the mount from post position three.
Cypress Creek Equine and Arnold Bennewith’s Dream Lith won her debut outing by 2¼ lengths at Saratoga prior to the Spinaway. Robertino Diodoro trains Dream Lith, who will exit post position four under Adam Beschizza.
Average Joe Racing Stables’ Myfavoritedaughter took three tries to notch her first victory, which came by 25 lengths over a sloppy track going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park prior to going to Del Mar. In the Debutante, Myfavoritedaughter rallied from last and missed the show spot by a half-length.
“She’s ready; I think she will run big,” trainer Jeff Engler said of Myfavoritedaughter. “She has had two works at Churchill (since the Del Mar race) and her last breeze (a :47.40 half-mile) was exceptional. She was very wide in the stretch (in the Debutante) and on the gallop-out, she passed the second- and third-place finisher. The further the better for her.
“We’ve been waiting to go two turns with her. She is probably the fittest horse I have had in my career.”
Special Reserve Headlines Phoenix Stakes
Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s Special Reserve headlines a field of seven sprinters entered for Friday’s 169thrunning of the $250,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) going six furlongs on the main track.
The Phoenix Stakes is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race with the winner receiving a fees-paid berth into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) to be run Nov. 6 at Del Mar.
Trained by Mike Maker, Special Reserve has compiled a 6-4-2-0 record in 2021 and enters Friday’s race off a runner-up effort in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) at Saratoga on July 31. In his lone Keeneland start, Special Reserve was second in this spring’s Commonwealth (G3).
Joel Rosario, who was aboard in the Vanderbilt, has the mount Friday out of post position six.
Looming as the main threat to Special Reserve is Griffon Farms and trainer Michelle Lovell’s Just Might.
Winner of his past four starts, all coming in stakes, Just Might enters Friday’s race off dirt victories at Colonial Downs and most recently at Churchill Downs. Colby Hernandez has the mount from post four.