Gary Broad's California-based Core Beliefs and Wayne T. Davis' Louisiana-based Mocito Rojo are the 123-pound highweights for Saturday's 62nd running of the $200,000 Hagyard Fayette (G2) on closing day of the Fall Meet. They lead a field of 10 horses entered Wednesday for the 1 1/8-mile dirt race for 3-year-olds and up.
The Hagyard Fayette will go as the ninth race on closing day's 11-race program with a 5:30 p.m. ET post time. First post is 1:05 p.m.
||The Great Day (ARG)
|Albert Stall, Jr.
||Ricardo Santana, Jr.
||Brian Hernandez, Jr.
||Big Dollar Bill
Trained by Peter Eurton, Core Beliefs won the New Orleans Handicap (G2) at Fair Grounds in March. In his past two starts, the 4-year-old Quality Road colt was sixth in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) and fourth in the San Diego (G2). In those races, he faced the likes of Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) pre-entrants Catalina Cruiser, Higher Power, Mongolian Groom and Vino Rosso.
Joe Talamo, who is nearing 2,000 career wins, has the mount on Core Beliefs, who will break from post seven.
Wayne T. Davis' Louisiana-based Mocito Rojo arrives at Keeneland with a record of 17 victories in 25 starts and earnings of $797,000. He's on a five-race win streak that includes the Steve Sexton Mile (G3) in April at Lone Star Park and the Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill Downs on Aug. 28 in his most recent start.
Trainer Shane Wilson credited Keeneland Racing Secretary Ben Huffman, a longtime friend, with encouraging him to send Mocito Rojo here for the race.
"We'd like to try him in a Grade 2 spot somewhere," Wilson said. "He likes to win. Every time we've put him in a little tougher spot, he's run a little bit better and a little better."
Wilson and Davis claimed Mocito Rojo for $10,000 in his winning career debut at Delta Downs in December 2016. Wilson said he had been impressed with the youngster's works and hoped he'd be as good as his older full sister, Blutadda, who had earned about $100,000 at the time.
For his new connections, Mocito Rojo won at Delta, Evangeline Downs and Louisiana Downs. Wilson studied the competition and believed the Kentucky-bred was ready to travel outside Louisiana.
"We decided to try a Grade 3 just based on the speed figures he'd been running," he said. "He stepped up and ran well there (in the Steve Sexton Mile, which he won by two lengths). We came back for the Lukas Classic, and he did it again."
The Lukas Classic, which Mocito Rojo won by a neck, is at 1 1/8 miles, the same distance as the Hagyard Fayette.
Now Mocito Rojo is in Lexington, where the Hagyard Fayette will mark the Keeneland debut for his regular jockey, Filemon Rodriguez.
"They may be better riders, but they don't know my horse," Wilson said. "Filemon Rodriguez has won 14 times on the horse. He broke his collarbone a couple months back, so that's why Gerard Melancon rode him in his last two starts. But he's back now. He knows the horse; he's the only one who's ever breezed the horse.
"First time at Keeneland, he might be a little nervous. But I think once they're in the gates and break, he'll be fine."
Also coming from Louisiana for the Hagyard Fayette are Wilson's wife and their two sons along with Davis, for whom Wilson has trained for many years.
"Mr. Davis is 90, and this is the best horse he's ever had," Wilson said. "When (Mocito Rojo) won at Churchill the last time, he said, `Shane, I've made some money in my life, but I've never had as much fun as I'm having right now.' He tells me all the time: `I've heard all my life that if you'll stay at it (in horse racing) long enough you'll get a good horse."
Red Oak Stable's Bal Harbour, runner-up in the recent Woodward Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, and Calumet Farm's Everfast, runner-up in this year's Preakness (G1), are among 35 3-year-olds and up nominated to the 62nd running of the $200,000 Hagyard Fayette (G2) to be run at 1 1/8 miles over the main track on Saturday, Oct. 26, the closing day of the 17-day Fall Meet at Keeneland.
Bal Harbour, who has three other graded stakes placings this year, is trained by Todd Pletcher and one of six Pletcher nominees to the race. Pletcher won the Hagyard Fayette in 2015 with Race Day.
Dale Romans, who trains Everfast, has two other nominees to the Hagyard Fayette. They include Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister's Mr Freeze, who won the Ack Ack (G3) at Churchill Downs in his most recent start. Romans won the Hagyard Fayette in 2003 with M B Sea.
Other nominations of note include Wayne Davis' Mocito Rojo, winner of his past five starts including the Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill, and WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing's Quip, winner of this spring's Oaklawn Handicap (G2).