By Ed McNamara
Rattle N Roll struggled in his first two starts, getting off slowly when third in his debut and bolting on the second turn before being pulled up in his second race. He put it all together in his next start, surging late to break his maiden by three lengths last month at Churchill Downs. The best was yet to come Saturday.
The previously erratic colt dominated the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland Racecourse, sweeping four wide into the stretch and bursting clear for a five-length win over another closer, Todd Pletcher’s Double Thunder. Ken McPeek trains the son of the unheralded sire Connect, who ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.78 under Brian Hernandez Jr. and paid $19.40.
If Del Mar’s main track is favoring closers on Nov. 5, Rattle N Roll will be a major threat in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Even if it isn’t, Rattle N Roll deserves serious respect.
Blowout’s name doesn’t fit her, because she’s usually involved in tight finishes, and they rarely go her way. Entering the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes, she finished second in four of her previous six races, never by more than three-quarters of a length. Blowout flipped the script this time, when she led throughout and held off stablemate Regal Glory by a half-length to earn a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
It was a 1-2 finish for trainer Chad Brown, who won the First Lady for the fourth consecutive year and for the fifth time overall. Irish shipper Empress Josephine ran third, while 6-5 favorite Althiqa had traffic problems and settled for fourth.
Blowout, a 5-year-old daughter of Dansili, ran a mile in 1:34.86 on a good course and paid $12.60 for her fifth win in 14 career starts. She’d won only one of her previous six.
As expected, Bell’s the One was last entering the stretch of the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes. As usual, she put in a strong late run, sweeping five-wide to take the lead in deep stretch before holding off another deep closer, 14-1 shot Club Car, by a neck.
The 5-year-old mare, trained by Neil Pessin and ridden by Corey Lanerie, earned an automatic bid to the BC Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). She ran a distant third to superstar Gamine in last year’s renewal at Keeneland. Bell’s the One ($4.20) was timed in a quick 1:08.63 for her third win in seven tries in Lexington. She’s 6-for-7 at 6 furlongs, with the defeat coming by a half-length to Sconsin last month at Churchill.
When a horse who needs the lead loses it in upper stretch, it almost always loses. So, when pace presser Firecrow stuck his nose in front of odds-on Golden Pal, thousands of chalk players cringed. Was their single in the opener of the all-stakes pick 5 going down?
They had to sweat for only a few seconds, because Golden Pal rebroke for John Velazquez, left Firecrow behind and drew away to a 2 1/4-length win over late-running Extravagant Kid in the Grade 2 Woodford Stakes. The son of Uncle Mo paid $3 for his fourth win in seven starts for trainer Wesley Ward after running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.12 on a turf course rated good.
For the second year in a row, Brazilian trainer Paulo Lobo pulled off a major upset in the Turf Mile. Last year he took it with 14-1 shot Ivar, and his time he and jockey Alex Achard connected at 12-1 odds with stretch-running In Love. The 5-year-old son of Agnes Gold, who also is Ivar’s sire, emerged on the outside in deep stretch to win easily over 25-1 Tell Your Daddy, with Somelikeithotbrown in third.
Speed was dominant on the first two days of Fall Stars Weekend, but In Love overcame the bias with a powerful late run to score by daylight. His stablemate, Ivar, was in the mix in mid-stretch but finished fourth.
It was the third straight victory for In Love, who was coming off a 2 1/4-length win in a $400,000 ungraded stakes at Kentucky Downs. He hadn’t won a graded stakes since August 2019 in Argentina. He paid $26.60 after being timed in 1:34.84 and earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.