09/20/2010 1:34PM

Three Breeders' Cup spots up for grabs at Ascot

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Edward Whitaker/Racing Post
Rip Van Winkle, with Johnny Murtagh riding, wins the Juddmonte International.

Ascot will be the scene of three Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on Saturday when the winners of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (BC Mile), Fillies Mile (Juvenile Fillies Turf) and Royal Lodge Stakes (Juvenile Turf) will all earn automatic berths at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5 and 6.

Always one of the best one-mile weight-for-age races on the international calendar, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes was won last year by Rip Van Winkle, who subsequently finished 10th in Zenyatta’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. Rip Van Winkle is one of five Aidan O’Brien trainees left in the race at Monday’s five-day entry stage along with Group 3 winners Steinbeck and Air Chief Marshal, possible pacesetter Windsor Palace, and Cape Blanco, who will run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe instead.

A son of Galileo, Rip Van Winkle defeated Twice Over and Byword in the 1 1/4-mile, 88-yard Juddmonte International two back before chasing home Cape Blanco in the 1 1/4-mile, Irish Champion Stakes on Sept. 4.

Rip Van Winkle will be facing a pair of very good 3-year-old milers in the QEII in Canford Cliffs and Makfi. Canford Cliffs got the best of Rip Van Winkle in his latest outing on July 28, beating him by a neck in the Sussex Stakes for his third Group 1 mile triumph in a row. Trained by Richard Hannon, Canford Cliffs is generally the 6-5 favorite for Saturday’s race.

Makfi, beaten into seventh by Canford Cliffs in the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, bounced back with a victory over Goldikova on very soft ground in the one-mile, Group 1 Prix Jacques Le Marois on Aug. 15. A son of Dubawi trained by Mikel Delzangles, heis penciled in for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, but Canford Cliffs is not.

Godolphin has supplemented White Moonstone, their undefeated daughter of Dynaformer, to the Group 1 Fillies Mile. Saeed bin Suroor has overseen White Moonstone to victories in a six-furlong Ascot maiden, the seven-furlong, Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes, and the one-mile, Group 2 Park Stakes. O’Brien has the Galileo filly Misty For Me, recent winner of the Curragh’s seven-furlong, Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes. Theyskens’ Theory, a Brian Meehan-trained daughter of Bernardini and a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy, will be stepping up in class and distance off a victory in the seven-furlong, Group 3 Prestige Stakes.

Frankel will get his acid test in the one-mile, Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes. A son of Galileo named for the late trainer Bobby Frankel, he was a 13-length winner of a seven-furlong Doncaster allowance last week, and is highly regarded by his trainer, Henry Cecil. All three races will be televised on both HRTV and TVG.