Breeders' Cup Friday Aftermath

Fierceness | Benoit

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All five of the 'Future Stars Friday' winners at Santa Anita appeared to emerge from the efforts unscathed, with connections looking forward to their Classics campaigns in 2024.

The very domination of the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner and 'TDN Rising Star' Fierceness (City of Light) will likely have put the colt at the head of the class for champion 2-year-old honors, and the Repole Stable homebred looked good Saturday morning.

“We were extremely happy with the way Fierceness ran,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “The race kind of unfolded the way we envisioned it would. We wanted to get involved and get to the first turn in good position, which he was able to do. Just a powerful performance.”

'Rising Star' Locked (Gun Runner) looked to be going nowhere at short odds on the Juvenile, but got going late to finish a respectable third.

“Locked got shuffled back a little more than we wanted and then got stuck inside,” Pletcher said. “There was a lot of kickback. I thought once he kind of got into the clear down the lane he started closing pretty well. At that point, the race had kind of gotten away from him. He was a couple strides away from being second, but he just had too much to do at that point.”
Pletcher said both colts will return first to Churchill Downs before shipping to the trainer's South Florida base at Palm Beach Downs to chart a course towards the new year.

There will be no such gray area where it comes to the Eclipse Award-winning juvenile filly after George Krikorian's Just F Y I (Justify) stamped her authority on her race Friday, lowering the colors of the previously undefeated divisional front-runner 'TDN Rising Star' Tamara (Bolt d'Oro). If he wasn't totally surprised that his filly proved best, he was slightly taken aback with the way she did it.

“She actually showed a bit more early speed than I expected,” Mott said. “She put herself right up there, which was great.”
The connections of Tamara confirmed that she emerged with a 'small knot' and the back of her rear hind.

“We'll take a look at it and see what it is,” said trainer Richard Mandella. “That will determine whether we may need to give her a rest. I could see at the half-mile pole that she wasn't running her race. I thought Mike (Smith) would have a tight hold on her.”

Chad Brown said that Hard to Justify, who gave her sensational young stallion a second straight Breeders' Cup winner on Friday in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, would get a rest with an eye on her sophomore season.

European horses unsurprisingly made their presence felt in the afternoon's other grass races. Big Evs (Ire) (Blue Point {Ire}) gave her sire, trainer Mick Appleby and jockey Tom Marquand their first Breeders' Cup winner with their first starter.

“It hasn't sunk in yet, it really is a dream come true,” trainer Michael Appleby said. “I'm still pinching myself. It was the best day of my career and I'm just so proud of all my team at home, Tom Marquand and Big Evs's owners Rachael and Paul Teasdale.”

Trainer Aidan O'Brien was dealt a disappointing blow when River Tiber (Ire) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) was withdrawn from the Juvenile Turf Friday morning, but the team was mollified some when Unquestionable (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) validated favoritism in the final Breeders' Cup event of the day.

“It's very tough to win here, but I'm delighted for the lads as they put so much into it,” O'Brien said. “It's hard to explain because when things start bad like what happened with River Tiber as it usually goes down because there are a lot of areas you can't control.”

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