Fresh off a victory in the Bernard Baruch (G2) on closing day of the Saratoga meet, West Point Thoroughbreds’ and St. Elias Stable’s Ring Weekend goes postward in Saturday’s $1,000,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland. Trained by Graham Motion, the 5-year-old Tapit gelding set a track record for a mile and sixteenth on the turf in the Baruch.
The Shadwell Turf Mile attracted a strong cast, with six grade one winners entered: Ring Weekend, Miss Temple City, Tourist, Mondialiste (Ire), Grand Arch, and What a View. It’s a “Win and You’re In” race for the $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) run on November 5 at Santa Anita.
Ring Weekend is one of just three millionaires in the deep field. After winning three graded stakes as a 3-year-old, he captured the Frank E. Kilroe (G1) at age four in March of 2015. Following that race the gelding was sidelined for over a year due to a nasty foot abscess that required several months of corrective shoeing.
Off a 14 month layoff, he ran huge to finish second in the Dixie Stakes (G2) on Preakness Day before finishing sixth in the Fourstardave (G1) on August 20 at Saratoga. It’s a bit unorthodox to run a graded stake horse back off short rest, but trainer Graham Motion felt the gelding thrived at Saratoga and just had an unlucky trip in the Fourstardave. Just 16 days after the Fourstardave, Ring Weekend put in a track record setting performance.
“We’re excited to be at Keeneland with a top contender in a million dollar race,” said West Point president Terry Finley. “Ring Weekend showed his brilliance in the Kilroe Mile last year and we knew he was “back” after such a strong effort in the Baruch. It’s been a patience-testing last year and a half, and I couldn’t be happier for our Partners. We celebrated together in the champagne room after he won at Saratoga, and have our sights set on the Breeders’ Cup Mile.”
“Ring Weekend is such a naturally athletic and talented horse,” said Graham Motion. “It’s a shame he missed most of his four-year-old season, but I really think he’s come back better than ever. I was very happy with his last race and think he is right there with the best turf horses in the country. He’s pretty versatile, but I think we’ll see him within a few lengths of the lead on Saturday.”
West Point and Vinnie and Teresa Viola of St. Elias Stables purchased Ring Weekend for $310,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Viola and Terry Finley are both graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and named the chestnut colt after an academy traditional where senior cadets are awarded their class rings.
Post time is 5:45 and the race will be broadcast live on NBC. Ring Weekend breaks from post nine under Junior Alvarado.