The two-day Breeders’ Cup spectacular in Los Angeles is regarded by many as the best thoroughbred action on earth with an all-star cast from around the world converging on the picturesque Santa Anita Racecourse in Arcadia for 14 Grade 1 blockbusters carrying total prize money of $25 million.
The five Grade 1s for two-year-olds will be run today and, as always, the $6-million Breeders’ Cup Classic and $4-million Breeders’ Cup Turf will be the highlights of Saturday’s action.
The Santa Anita show gets going at 20:30 SA time on Friday and at 19:10 on Saturday. Catch it all live on Racing 240 on DStv and TAB will offer Win, Place, Exacta and Rolling Pick 6 bets on both days
A mere three races into his career, $2 million FanDuel Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile favourite Locked is already living up to lofty expectations.
After a debut third, he jumped from a runaway 1-mile maiden victory at Saratoga on 1 September directly to a challenging half-length victory in the Gr1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and is the 7-2 morning line favourite in the Juvenile.
Eclipse Thoroughbreds Partners and Walmac Farm co-own the son of Horse of the Year Gun Runner. Aron Wellman, founder and president of Eclipse Thoroughbreds, said his team identified him as a must-have prospect at the Keeneland September 2022 sale. They went to $425,000 to acquire the chestnut bred by Rosa Colasanti.
“He was a standout based on our inspections and evaluation of him,” Wellman said. “We’re very fortunate to have added him to the stable. Most of the time that proves not to be the case, but, thankfully, in his case, we were right.”
Locked came loaded with the qualities that Wellman hopes to find at auction.
“He was a really athletic colt, with a lot of scope to him,” Wellman said. “He looked like a two-turn Classic type. The thing that really stood out, aside from just his sheer confirmation and physique was that he was really easy on himself. I find fillies a lot easier to read as yearlings. They’re a little bit more emotional, a lot more intelligent. But for him, he just seemed to be a bit wise beyond his years.”
Wellman said he has learned that looks aren’t everything with a yearling.
“When you’ve got the physical attributes like him as a colt, sometimes you worry that they’re going to be a little bit too over-zealous, to not put the mental part of the game together with the physical,” Wellman said.
“He struck us at the time as one of those horses that had not just the physical constitution, but the mental constitution as well. Thankfully, that’s proven true. We’re wrong way more than we’re right, but it only takes a few of these types to make up for the majority of the misses.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher was not involved in the selection.
“When they sent him to us they said they had high hopes for him,” Pletcher said. “They liked the way he had been training. He came to us in excellent condition.
“He was just one of those colts that everything we asked him to do he did perfectly. He’s a very quiet colt to be around. He’ll do whatever you ask him to do. If you want him to work fast, he will. If you want them to work easily, he will. He’s got a great temperament and disposition. I think that’s part of what makes him successful.”
Pletcher sent Locked out for his first start, going 6 furlongs, on Aug. 5 at Saratoga. He got away last in the field of 10, but ended up third by 3½ lengths.
“I thought his debut was impressive,” Pletcher said. “He was green early, climbed from the kick-back like most of them will do, leveled off very well in the stretch finished strongly then galloped out really, really strongly. He came back with two good breezes leading up to the mile maiden. I thought that was a super-impressive race running in 1:36 flat. It might have been the fastest mile time on the dirt at the meet. I don’t recall a faster one.
“Then he came back with a really difficult trip in the Breeders’ Futurity. He was wide throughout from the widest post and was able to win despite that. He’s been a star since Day One. He is a terrific-minded colt that just does everything right and I think is going to continue to improve as the races stretch out in distance and he matures.”
The Santa Anita show gets going at 20h30 SA time this evening and at 19h10 on Saturday.
Catch it all live on Racing 240 on DStv and TAB will offer Win, Place, Exacta and Rolling Pick 6 bets on both days.