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Stopcharginmaria Highlights Breeders' Cup Friday at Keeneland

As the sun rose on Friday morning the temperature slowly climbed into the 40s, but the cold did not stop thousands of people from filling up Keeneland for the first day of Breeders’ Cup racing.

Of the 11 races at Keeneland, four of them were Breeders’ Cup races – the juvenile turf, dirt mile, juvenile fillies turf and the Distaff.

The biggest race, the Distaff, is the premiere Breeders’ Cup race for fillies and mares, ages three and up., Ten of the 14 horses who ran in this year’s Distaff were Kentucky bred.

With 2014 Distaff returning champion Untapable scratching due to a low-grade fever, other horses stood a better chance in a high-competition field.

The Distaff was also won by Beholder in 2013, who scratched before running in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic due to health issues. The race of nine furlongs, or 1 1/8 of a mile, is a guaranteed purse of $2 million for the winning horse.

Even the sun showed up for the distaff, which was won by Stopchargingmaria by a neck. The race was over in less than two minutes.

Though the horses were the true athletes Friday, another winner on the first day of Breeders’ Cup racing in Lexington was trainer Todd Pletcher – who had two first place horses on Friday. Those horses were Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map and Stopchargingmaria. Pletcher had nine horses in the races on Friday.

“I felt like today we had some of our best chances,” Pletcher said. “Any time you come into these events and the horses are running well and win early on the card it makes you feel good. At least about your preparation and hopefully you’ve done your part to put them in the best position to perform as well as they can.”

Pletcher’s other trainee, Liam’s Map, finished the dirt mile ahead of a full field. Owner Vincent Viola said it was Liam’s Map best race, which bodes well for the horse’s future.

The Triple Winner isn’t the only horse retiring this weekend. Liam’s Map will be retiring to Lane’s End Farm in Midway to stud.

“I would say, unequivocally, this is his most impressive race,” Viola said. “I think the breeders should take some note of that. I think this was his best race.”

Liam’s Map has competed in eight races with six first place wins and has earned $1,358,940 over the course of his career.

“We’re humbled and honored that (Lane’s End) would have an interest in our stallion,” Viola said.

In juxtaposition to Pletcher, trainer Mark Casse won his first Breeders’ Cup with Catch a Glimpse during the juvenile fillies turf.

“It feels good. When this is all you’ve ever done your entire life … this is important,” Casse said.

-from Brookbank



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