Grand Slam Turf Battle

What with all of Swifty’s talk of the multitude of variations that exist in tennis for the Grand Slam, I was surprised to notice that we have our own Grand Slam… the Grand Slam of Grass. And I thought the Triple Tiara was obscure!

The Grand Slam of Grass is relatively new, started in 2005 by Colonial Downs as a way to complete with neighboring Mid-Atlantic tracks with slots money. The series, open to 3 year olds, includes the Colonial Turf Cup, Virginia Derby, Secretariat Stakes (at Arlington) and the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Touted as the richest Grand Slam in sports, anyone sweeping the series would win over $5 million in purse and bonus money.

No one has swept the series yet but maybe Battle of Hastings will be the one to change that.

Grand Slam of Grass Series:

Yellow = repeat winners, Green = 3yo BC Turf winners

The first year of the series came the closest to having a sweep. English Channel, who just moved to Lane’s End (along with Candy Ride, who’s next?) kicked off the series with a bang taking the first two legs and placing in the third. He ran 5th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, a race he dominated in 2007, and is one of only two horses who ran ITM to run in every leg of the series.

In 2006 Showing Up won the Colonial Turf Cup but skipped the Virginia Derby only to come back and win the Secretariat Stakes. He didn’t run in the BC Turf but Go Between, who won the Virginia Derby and ran 3rd in the Colonial Turf Cup, ran in every race in the series (6th in the Secretariat and 7th in the BC Turf).

Battle of Hastings is the first repeat winner since Showing Up and the first consecutive repeat winner since English Channel. His connections said they would make a decision about the Secretariat in a week or two.

Colonial Turf Cup:


Virginia Derby:


Stretch run footage of the Virginia Derby and connection interview:

(James River News)

For the sake of argument let’s say that he does race AND win the Secretariat… the next step is the Breeders Cup Turf, a race that’s not restricted to 3yos. It’s not that it can’t be done, 7 of the 26 Breeders’ Cup Turf races have been won by 3yos. 27% is not fabulous, but it’s not hideous either. Of those 7 only 2 winners have been trained in the US. Battle of Hastings, while bred in Britain, is trained right here in the U.S of A… and the win percentage drops to 7.6% for U.S. trained 3yos in the BC Turf.

Before we get too down in the mouth about his chances let’s take a look at the 3yos that have won the Breeders Cup Turf.

2008: Conduit – Ireland


2006: Red Rocks – Ireland


2002: High Chaparral – Ireland


1994: Tikkanen – US (trained in France, on stud duties in Ireland)


1989: Prized – US (born & trained by Neil Drysdale)


1986: Manila – US (born and trained by LeRoy Jolley)


1984: Lashkari – British


Looking at the US trained 3yos, Florida bred Prized beat the previous year’s winner, Sunshine Forever (who finished 14th)… and it was his first time on turf! Manilla is ranked by Steve Davidowitz as the best long-distance turf horse in American racing history. Not a shabby group.

Can Battle of Hastings do it? Too soon to tell, but it doesn’t hurt that he’s got a fighting spirit to go along with his name… he’ll need it. Here’s hoping he’s the first to sweep the series!

Update: Check out Kennedy’s current top 10 for the BC Turf… and note there’s only one American, 6yo Presious Passion. Tough crowd for an American 3yo!