Air Recruit on Target for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1)

Air Recruit on Target for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1)

Laurel Futurity Winner Scheduled to Breeze Friday, Leave Sunday
G2-Placed Maryland-Bred Fulmineo Also Pre-Entered in $1M Race
Pick 5, Rainbow 6, Super Hi-5 Carryovers for Friday’s 10-Race Card

LAUREL, MD – Mark Grier’s Air Recruit, impressive winner of the $150,000 Laurel Futurity Sept. 30 at Laurel Park, is scheduled to have one final work ahead of an anticipated start in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.

Air Recruit and Fulmineo, bred in Maryland by Country Life Farm and Starr of Quality LLC, were each pre-entered in the one-mile Juvenile Turf, the last of five Breeders’ Cup races for 2-year-olds to open the two-day championship event of 14 races worth $28 million.

Both horses are based with trainer Arnaud Delacour at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.

“[Air Recruit] is doing very well. We’ve been happy with him,” Delacour said. “We have one more work to go, probably going to breeze [Friday]. They’re scheduled to ship [to California] on Sunday morning. So far, we’ve been happy with everything.”

Air Recruit made his first two starts sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the Colonial Downs turf, capturing his Aug. 5 unveiling by 1 ¼ lengths before running third behind multiple stakes winner No Nay Mets in the Sept. 9 Rosies.

The 1 1/16-mile Laurel Futurity was Air Recruit’s first time around two turns. After saving ground early, regular rider Charlie Marquez tipped out at the quarter pole and they went on to a professional 5 ½-length triumph in 1:46.95 over a Dahlia turf course rated good.

“I was very happy with the last race,” Delacour said. “He broke very alertly and it looked like he could be a little strong at some stage, but Charlie did a great job to take him back and tucked him in behind the speed. From there, he was pretty much just waiting to make his move and when he made his move, he came with a big run.”

Air Recruit returned to the work tab with a half-mile move in 48.60 seconds over Fair Hill’s all-weather surface Oct. 21, fourth-fastest of 12 horses. The Air Force Blue colt was purchased for $105,000 as a yearling last July and had his first timed breeze at Fair Hill in mid-June.

“He was just doing everything right, but I didn’t really think Breeders’ Cup at that stage,” Delacour said. “We just wanted to get him going. The question mark the last time was the distance, but he checked that box and did it very well and had plenty to finish. I think we’re in a good spot there.”

Luis Saez is named to ride Air Recruit in the Juvenile Turf.

Co-owned by Grier and Starlight Racing, Fulmineo is by 2022 champion freshman sire Bolt d’Oro out of the First Dude mare Starr of Quality. Third behind subsequent Hopeful (G1) winner Nutella Fella in his July 26 debut on dirt at Delaware Park, he was moved to the grass and stretched from 5 ½ furlongs to 1 1/16 miles and graduated by 2 ¼ lengths Sept. 2 at Colonial. Last out he was second to fellow Juvenile Turf pre-entrant Agate Road in the Oct. 4 Pilgrim (G2) going 1 1/16 miles on the Aqueduct turf.

“We didn’t have too many options the first time he ran. He was ready a little too early so we had to go 5 ½ on the dirt which was a little fast for him, but he ran well behind some nice horses,” Delacour said. “From there we stretched him and tried him on the turf and he’s done great since. He might not be as tactical as Air Recruit. Air Recruit has got some tactical speed, but Fulmineo is probably more of a come-from-behind type of horse. But, they’re both very efficient on a firm turf.”

Delacour has had four career Breeders’ Cup starters. He ran second by a head with Chalon – winner of Laurel’s Primonetta to open her 4-year-old year – in the 2018 Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) and third with A.P. Indian in the 2016 Sprint (G1).

“The Breeders’ Cup is a great venue. It’s got that international flavor at the end of the year,” said Delacour, scheduled to leave Monday for California. “Anything can happen. They’re hard to win, but it’s a great experience and we feel fortunate just to be in there.”

Trainer Graham Motion, also based at Fair Hill, pre-entered Tok Tok in the Juvenile Turf. Tok Tok won his first two starts at Colonial including the Sept. 9 Kitten’s Joy and was fifth by two lengths to fellow pre-entrant Can Group in the Oct. 8 Bourbon (G2) at Keeneland.

Brocknardini, winner of the $150,000 Selima Sept. 30 at Laurel, was among 25 pre-entrants in the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), where she is the fifth of 11 also-eligibles in a race limited to 14 starters.

National Treasure, winner of the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course, was among 15 pre-entries in the $1 million Dirt Mile (G1) along with Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage, who ran third in the Preakness, and 2022 fifth-place finisher Skippylongstocking.

The $2 million Distaff (G1) had 13 pre-entries including Hoosier Philly and multiple graded-stakes winner Adare Manor, runners-up in Pimlico’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2) in 2023 and 2022, respectively; A Mo Reay, a Laurel optional claiming allowance winner last summer that captured the Beholder Mile (G1) in March; and Le Da Vida, third in the May 19 Allaire du Pont at Pimlico.

Trainer Michael Trombetta, who has strings at both Laurel Park and Fair Hill, pre-entered Arzak in the $1 million Turf Sprint (G1). Arzak was second as the favorite in a 5 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance June 16 at Laurel before winning the Woodford (G2) Oct. 7 at Keeneland.

Also pre-entered in the Turf Sprint are millionaire defending champion Caravel, bred and formerly owned and trained by Maryland native Elizabeth Merryman; and Beer Can Man, winner of the Jim McKay Turf Sprint May 20 at Pimlico.

Nakatomi, third in the May 20 Maryland Sprint (G3) at Pimlico, was pre-entered in the $2 million Sprint (G1).

Notes: Jockey Jevian Toledo had two wins Thursday, Venomous Vixen ($9.20) in Race 2 and Up Her Sleeve ($11.60), who dead-heated for first with Esperannna ($17) in Race 5 … Jockey Jorge Ruiz also doubled, aboard Headline News ($6.20) in Race 3 and Hardspun Reason ($3.60) in Race 7 … Both Venomous Vixen and Regalo ($4.60) in Race 8 are trained by Brittany Russell … Built Wright Stables’ Outlier ($13.80) earned his 10th career win in front-running fashion in the Race 4 feature, a third-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up. The 5-year-old gelding put away It’s Sizzling Time at the top of the stretch and went on to win in 1:44.93 over Grade 3 winner Magic Michael for 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track … Respect the Valleys’ Venomous Vixen, a first-time starter by Palace Malice, romped by 11 lengths in her Race 2 debut, a maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies. The winning time was 1:25.61 for seven furlongs over a fast main track … 4-year-old Curlin gelding Headline News drew into the field following early scratches and came with a late run on the outside to graduate in Race 3, a maiden special weight for horses ages 3, 4 and 5, in 1:36.38 over a firm Kelso turf course … Thursday’s finale was a seven-furlong maiden special weight for 2-year-olds that saw Goodfellas’ Regalo, by Maximus Mischief, power to a second-time-out victory in 1:25.01 … There will be carryovers of $9,359.58 in the 50-cent Late Pick 5 (Races 6-10), $3,206.06 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 5-10) and $2,616.81 in the $1 Jackpot Super High Five (Race 6) for Friday’s 10-race program that begins at 12:25 p.m.