By Bob Ehalt
There’s still a little less than two months left in the 2018 racing season, but realistically a lot of the excitement exited the scene last weekend when the 35th Breeders’ Cup was contested.
Only a handful of races with significance in terms of the Eclipse Awards are on the horizon, yet there are some chance to put your Breeders’ Cup profits into play – or recoup your losses.
One comes on Saturday at Aqueduct, where, weather permitting, there should be an interesting and competitive turf stakes topping the card.
The $150,000 Artie Schiller drew a field of 10, plus two main track only entrants, topped by Bricks and Mortar and Qurbaan.
Bricks and Mortar is the 5-2 favorite, which isn’t surprising considering he’s from Chad Brown’s barn. What is surprising is that he’s the choice despite not racing since Oct. 7, 2017, when he finished third in the Grade 3 Hill Prince at Belmont Park.
Qurbaan is the 3-1 second choice and has raced far more recently, finishing third in the $1 million Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile a month ago on Oct. 6 at Keeneland.
Prior to that, Qurbaan scored by a nose in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga.
“He’s been just great since he’s come to us,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “He’s doing very well and has been training forwardly off his race in the Shadwell. We didn’t get into the Breeders’ Cup (Turf Mile) so we had this spot in mind and hopefully the weather cooperates.”
The main threats also include Blacktype (9-2), who is coming off a neck victory in the Grade 2 Knickerbocker last month at Belmont.
“He’s been a very fun horse to have around,” trainer Christophe Clement. “He always tries and is coming in for this well off his victory in the Knickerbocker last out. Unfortunately, he’ll have to carry the most weight in the field, but he prefers some give in the ground which it looks like there’s a chance we’ll get, so hopefully things work out.”
Brown also has another key contender in Projected (4-1), who was third, two noses behind Qurbaan, in the Bernard Baruch two starts ago. In his last race, Projected lost by a nose in the Grade 3 Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup.
The rest of the field includes Profiteer (10-1), Backsideofthemoon (10-1), Black Tide (15-1), Proforma (15-1), Dalarna (30-1) and Dr. Edgar (10-1).
The two main track entrants are Papa Zulu and Exulting.