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Breeders’ Cup to be historic for Runnymede

Rogue Romance (Michele MacDonald photo)     When the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships begins on November 5, Runnymede Farm is poised to make history.

    The green and black Runnymede silks will be carried in a Breeders’ Cup race for the first time ever when Juvenile (G1) contender Rogue Romance, who farm Chairman Catesby W. Clay purchased from the Runnymede consignment at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale, enters the starting gate.

    Two other Runnymede-breds, both Grade 1 winners, also will compete at the Breeders’ Cup—with Jaycito also contesting the Juvenile and Awesome Gem rated as the morning line favorite in the Marathon (G3).

     Having a trio of top runners in championship races is a remarkable achievement for a farm that has maintained a broodmare band of only about 30 mares annually over the past decade. In recognition of this landmark, the Daily Racing Form published a story which can be accessed at this link:

    More than 30 members of the Runnymede family, including some friends and supporters, plan to travel to Churchill Downs to cheer on all three horses.

Jaycito (Michele MacDonald photo)   “You can’t imagine how exciting it is for all of us to have three of our horses show up on the biggest day of racing in the year. It is what we have always aimed for coming to fruition,” said Runnymede General Manager Martin O’Dowd. “We wish the connections of Awesome Gem and Jaycito the very best of racing luck and we are so happy our horses have ended up in such capable hands. As for Rogue Romance, we feel he’s ready to run the race of his life and we have really high hopes for him.”

    As the oldest continually operated Thoroughbred nursery in the state of Kentucky following its founding in 1867, the farm has raised champions and top stakes winners for more than a century yet this will be a singular occasion. Jaycito and Rogue Romance, who were raised as foals in the same field at Runnymede in 2008, will be vying for honors as America’s best two-year-old male in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

    Jaycito, who races in the blue and yellow silks of Zayat Stables, will start from the outside post 10, next to Rogue Romance in post 9. Trained by Mike Mitchell and rated a co-third choice on the morning line at 8-1, Jaycito is by Victory Gallop and out of Runnymede’s Night Edition, a daughter of Ascot Knight who is currently in foal to Smarty Jones. He will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.

    Rogue Romance is one of the best sons to date by the brilliant Smarty Jones and was produced by Lovington, one of Runnymede’s most outstanding broodmares who sadly lost a battle with laminitis this summer after prolonged treatments. The robust chestnut colt, who is trained by Ken McPeek and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux, has raced exclusively on turf but is bred for dirt and is training energetically.

Awesome Gem (Courtesy of West Point Thoroughbreds)

Awesome Gem (Courtesy of West Point Thoroughbreds)     While the Juvenile will be run—with great anticipation on the part of racing fans who will rely on the race as a guage for next year’s Kentucky Derby (G1)—on November 6, Runnymede also will be represented on the previous day in the form of Awesome Gem.

     A Grade 1 winner who has earned more than $2.2-million to rank as one of the richest Runnymede-breds in the farm’s storied annals, Awesome Gem will be making a phenomenal fourth start in a Breeders’ Cup race and will begin from post 7 in the 1 ¾-mile test of stamina. The Awesome Again gelding out of the Pentelicus mare Piano, bred by the farm in partnership with Runnymede’s longtime friend Peter Callahan, is trained by Craig Dollase for West Point Thoroughbreds.

   David Flores, who steered Awesome Gem to his Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) victory, will be back in the irons.