09/27/2012 3:26PM

Royal Lodge offers incentives for Derby and Breeders' Cup


The Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes is the best race on a big Saturday program at Newmarket in England, featuring high-class fillies like Elusive Kate and Beauty Parlour. Beauty Parlour’s name has come up as a potential Breeders’ Cup runner, but the Newmarket race with the strongest link to the American scene is actually the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes, for 2-year-old colts and geldings.

The one-mile Royal Lodge does not include any of the leaders of the European 2-year-old division, but it is both a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In race tied to the BC Juvenile Turf, and the very first race in Churchill Downs’s new Road to the Kentucky Derby points system which will qualify horses for the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Whichever horse wins the Royal Lodge will earn 10 points toward a slot in the Derby. The Royal Lodge sits among the lowest tier of Road to the Derby scoring races, with the most important preps worth 100 points to the winner.

Not that there’s more than a remote chance that any runner in Saturday’s race will wind up in Kentucky on the first Saturday in May. Juddmonte Farms’s Excess Knowledge has displayed some ability in his two races, winning his debut and finishing second Aug. 18 at Newbury. Aidan O’Brien-trained Afonso de Sousa has won one of his four races while looking like a second-tier juvenile in his yard, while Steeler has notched a pair of wins and seconds in four races.

The Sun Chariot merits more attention. Beauty Parlour, winner of the French 1000 Guineas winner and second in the French Oaks, makes her first start outside France while racing for the first time since mid-June. During Beauty Parlour’s down time, Elusive Kate has put together a solid three-race run, finishing second in the Group 1 Falmouth at Newmarket in her seasonal debut, winning the Prix Rothschild over a good field, and coming home third behind Excelebration and Cityscape in the Group 1 Prix Jacques Le Marois. Also in an expected eight-horse field is Up, the Aidan O’Brien-trained filly with designs on the BC Filly and Mare Turf, and the solid if unspectacular Chachamaidee, a winner in seven of her 20 starts.

The Group 1 Cheveley Park, for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs, drew a field of 12 and should be headed by Maureen and Rosdhu Queen. Rosdhu Queen has started her career with three wins, stepping into stakes competition for the first time last month to capture the Group 1 Lowther Stakes at York. Maureen has won two of her three races, taking the Group 3 Juddmonte Stakes in her most recent appearance and finishing second in the Group 2 Cherry Hinton.

Black Caviar to race in 2013

Black Caviar, the undefeated Australian sprinting sensation, will race again in 2013, her trainer, Peter Moody, announced Thursday.

Moody said no specific plans have been made for a campaign that will begin sometime this fall on Northern Hemisphere time, and Black Caviar is not even in serious training right now, but the news put to rest speculation that Black Caviar had made the final start of her career, her 22nd, when she won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. The narrow margin of Black Caviar’s victory in her first start outside Australia came as a surprise to many, but the form of that race has since been validated, with Breeders’ Cup Mile-bound runner-up Moonlight Cloud going on to put together an excellent summer campaign.

Little Bridge tops Japan Grade 1

Little Bridge, the winner of the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, returns to racing in the Far East on Sunday as a leading contender in the $2.47 million Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse in Japan.

A 6-year-old gelding, Little Bridge has not started since the King’s Stand Stakes, which was run over five furlongs on turf. The Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes is run over about six furlongs on turf.

Little Bridge has won his last three races, including two group sprint stakes at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong in April.

Little Bridge is one of two Hong Kong-based runners in the Sprinters Stakes, joined by Lucky Nine, who was third in the Golden Shaheen for sprinters in Dubai in March. Lucky Nine has won two Group 1 races in Hong Kong in the last year.

The Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes has drawn a field of 16, including one runner from Singapore, Captain Obvious.

Of the 13 Japan-based runners, the leading contenders are Epice Amore and Lord Kanaloa, the first two finishers of the Group 1 Centaur Stakes at Hanshin Racecourse on Sept. 9.