Day 1 on Friday saw just one favorite win out of the six races. Only Royal Delta could rise to the challenge and show the betting public they were correct in their pick. We also witnessed a nine year old gelding from Argentina win, a maiden win, Mike Smith take over the sole possession of first place for most Breeders Cup wins by a jockey and Bill Mott continue his command of recent Breeders Cup. Day 2 provided additional story lines, as well as, additional upsets.
2012 BREEDERS CUP RESULTS
BREEDERS CUP JUVENILE TURF
The Euros get off to a good start on the second day with the Aidan O’Brien trained George Vancouver powering his way through horses dow the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths. It was his first non-maiden win, but it looked like he had never lost before. Jockey Ryan Moore was extremely patient waiting for a seam to open up, and it did. He deserves as much credit as the horse. That makes it back to back year’s for O’Brien as he won this race with Wrote (IRE) in 2011. Pilgrim Stakes (G3) winner Noble Tune and Bourbon Stakes (G3) winner Balance the Books came flying from near the back end of the pack to get 2nd and 3rd. They were only a neck apart. The Roger Charlton trained Dundonnell got up for 4th. That gives the Europeans both juvenile turf races this year as Flotilla (FR) won the Juvenile Fillies Turf on Friday. Last year, it was a split between the Americans and Europeans with Stephanie’s Kitten taking the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Wrote (IRE) taking the Juvenile Turf.
BREEDERS CUP FILLY & MARE SPRINT
If there were any doubts that Groupie Doll wasn’t the fastest female sprinter in the country heading into the Breeders Cup, the doubts were quickly turned into beliefs. The four year old William Bradley trained filly exploded at the far turn in the seven furlongs sprint, took over the lead as they turned for home and cruised to a 4 1/2 lengths win. It was her fifth consecutive win, all Grade 1 or Grade 2 races. She posted a final time of 1:20.72, just a second off the track record and she’s won these last five races by a combined 25 lengths. She is the current queen of sprinting and deserves the right to be in consideration for Horse of the Year honors. Gallant Bloom winner Dust and Diamonds could not hold off the challenge from Groupie Doll as she finished 2nd ending her three race winning streak. The always consistent mare Switch had a rough start to the race that saw her 10th and last, went 6-wide on the far turn and stretch and finished 3rd beaten 8 1/4 lengths. 49/1 long shot Belle of the Hall got up to complete the board. This was the first Breeders Cup win for trainer William Bradley. For jockey Rajiv Maragh, it was his 2nd win of this year’s Breeders Cup. He won with Hightail in the Juvenile Sprint on Friday.
BREEDERS CUP DIRT MILE
Trainer Steven Asmussen and jockey Corey Nakatani teamed up to take the Dirt Mile with Tapizar at odds of 15/1. The 3rd longest shot out of the nine horse field. The four year old Tapit colt sat off the early held by race favorite Emcee until the far turn. He took over while going 3-4 wide and cruised down the stretch to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Rail Trip, the oldest horse in the field at seven gave a nice late run to finish 2nd, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Ontario shipper Delegation. Local horse John Scott finished 4th for trainer Carla Gaines. Emcee faded to finish 6th while fan favorite Shackleford could not overcome a terrible start and never factored in the race. He finished 7th. With two poor performances in his last three races, this quite possibly could have been the last race for the three-time graded stakes winner. Tapizar finished the one mile dirt race in 1:35.34 and paid $32.60 to win.
BREEDERS CUP TURF SPRINT
Radio and TV personality Jim Rome added the ultimate “clone” to his jungle on Saturday. As part of the ownership group Jungle Racing LLC, W. Strauss, J. Grohs, B. Beljak, and KMN Racing LLC, the four year old filly Mizdirection took it to her 13 counterparts including 12 males and 1 female. After missing 160 days without a race, the four year old Mizzen Mast gray filly surged past her rivals with each stride down the stretch after sitting far back early. It looked as if the Asmussen trained Unbridled’s Note was going to take the win, but jockey Mike Smith did what he does best on the big stage and guides his horse to the win. Mizdirection won by 1/2 length and finished the 6 1/2 furlongs race in a quick 1:11:39. It was her second career graded stakes victory, but first in Grade 1 company. The other filly in the field, three year old Reneesgotzip finished 3rd 1 1/4 lengths behind Unbridled’s Note and 1 1/4 lengths in front of Great Mills. Disappointing results for 2009 Turf Sprint winner California Flag and multiple graded stakes winner Bridgetown who finished 13th and 14th respectively.
BREEDERS CUP JUVENILE
Several undefeated horses suffered their first loss on Friday, but that was not going to happen to the Todd Pletcher trained Shanghai Bobby. The Harlan’s Holiday colt had won his first four races including his latest the Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. Bob Baffert sent one of his two horses, Title Contender, to the early lead and posted quick fractions of 22.0, 45.2 and 1:10.28 for the first six furlongs of the 1 1/16 miles race. Shanghai Bobby was just 1/2 length behind. There was no way either one of these two would stick around on those fractions. Well, that held true for Shanghai Bobby, but not Title Contender. On the far turn, Bobby took over the lead while Title Contender started to fade. He’s Had Enough, ridden by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Mario Gutierrez was coming hard at the new leader. If looked as if Shanghai Bobby was finally going to tire after the early pace, but dug in and battled. Jockey Rosie Napravnik and Gutierrez were riding their horses hard with just 1/16 of a mile to go. However, at the end, Napravnik and her colt would get the better of Gutierrez and his horse. They were separated by just a head. Shanghai Bobby finished in a time of 1:44.58. Capo Bastone got up for 3rd after sitting back early with Fortify finishing in 4th. Baffert’s other colt, Power Broker could not duplicate his effort from the FrontRunner Stakes and finished a non-factor 5th.
This was just the 3rd favorite to win in 11 races so far. Would Point of Entry be able to keep the favorites streak alive and extend his own winning streak to six races?
BREEDERS CUP TURF
Todd Pletcher sent Turbo Compressor to the lead in the 1 1/2 miles turf race, but could not duplicate the result of his younger stablemate from one race earlier. He set early fractions of 23.4, 46.3 and 1:10.4 for the first six furlongs and settled his fate. He faded to 12th and last by the end. Oddly enough, the D. Wayne Lukas trained Optimizer was up there with him. We usually see him at the back early and make a late move. That hurt his chances as well. He finished 11th. Arlington Million winner Little Mike, who usually likes the lead was sitting patiently behind the front two in 3rd and waited for his opportunity. hat opportunity came on the far turn as rider Ramon Dominguez passed his tiring rivals and took over the lead as they turned for home. The four race favorites Point of Entry, St. Nicholas Abbey (IRE), Trailblazer (JPN) and Shareta (IRE) all began their moves to tried to catch the new leader. Little Mike as he did in the Arlington Million dug in and would not let anyone get near him and won the Breeders Cup Turf by 1/2 length over Point of Entry. St. Nicholas Abbey, last year’s winner was 3/4 length behind in 3rd and Trailblazer finished 4th a neck in front of Shareta. The final time of 2:22.83 was just .03 second off the track record set back in 1989 by Hawkster. After a disappointing result for Shackleford, trainer Dale Romans had something to be excited about with the win by his five year old gelding by Spanish Steps.
XPRESSBET BREEDERS CUP SPRINT
The three year olds took command in this six furlongs dirt race. The horses who went to the lead pretty much stuck around at the end. Everyone, simply couldn’t keep up. The Shivananda Parbhoo trained Trinninberg sat behind Sum of the Parts for the first 1/2 mile that went in 21.2 and 43.3. Once Willie Martinez got the lead with his three year old Teuflesberg colt, he would not relinquish it. He went on to win by 3/4 length over fellow three year old The Lumber Guy, who sat 4th and 3rd before making his move down the stretch. Aging and injury prone Smiling Tiger, who missed this race last year due to injury, surprised with a good effort to finish 3rd. He hadn’t raced since June 30. Sum of the Parts fell to 4th. Last year’s winner and favorite Amazombie was never a factor and finished 8th. Bob Baffert’s Coil was shuffled back early and was too far back to be a threat late. He finished 7th. Trinniberg now has four graded wins this year. Thsi was his first Grade 1 win. He finished the six furlongs in a blistering 1:07.98 and paid $29.40 to win. Yet another upset.
XPRESSBET BREEDERS CUP MILE
Arguably, the most competitive and anticipated races of the weekend ended up being the same old result. Wise Dan, trained once again to victory by Charles Lopresti, swallowed up pacesetter Obviously (IRE) down the stretch after sitting 3rd and 2nd for the first six furlongs. As soon as he ad the lead, you just knew he would not give it up. He drew away to win by 1 1/2 lengths and set a new track record in the process. He finished the one mile turf race in 1:31.78. The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom returned from a nine months layoff with a solid effort to finish 2nd, despite not having any running room as they straightened out down the stretch. As soon as he had an opening, he passed Obviously at the end. Excelebration (IRE), the 2nd best turf miler in Europe, now 1st with the retirement to Frankel, was beat out by a nose at the wire and finished 4th. As soon as this race ended, the social media World erupted with posts and tweets that Wise Dan and Frankel would be a dream matchup. Of course fans from Europe saying Frankel would dominate and fans from the United States claiming Wise Dan would. Unfortunately, we will never know. It’s a shame as horse racing around the World would focus on one single race. Frankel is heading early to stud and hopefully Wise Dan will give American fans one more year or highlights as he is a gelding and does not need to be retired to stud. Yes, that was a dig to the connections of the European star.
BREEDERS CUP CLASSIC
This race was Game on Dude’s to lose and that’s exactly what happened. Bob Baffert has had his fair share of heartaches this season and it didn’t get any better in the $5,000,000 Classic. His star five year old gelding and race favorite got off to a slow start, then squeezed back even further as he tried to make his way up towards the lead. Jockey Rafael Bejarano tried to settle him off in 5th and 6th respectively while going wide on every turn, but that’s not what this horse wants. Game on Dude fought him every step of the way and was never a factor in the race. He finished 6th. Let’s not take away the spectacular performances of two great race horses. Fort Larned, trained by Ian Wilkes got the early lead and posted very quick fractions or the 1 1/4 miles race. Like we’ve seen throughout the first 14 races of this event, speed held even with quick early fractions. Brian Hernandez Jr. sat on his colt and kept him relaxed. He had a 1 1/2 lengths lead after the first mile but Mike Smith had Mucho Macho Man ready for a move. As they turned for home, Fort Larned held a slim lead and Mucho Macho Man looked like the stronger horse. Tons of credit for Fort Larned as he dug in hard and would not give up the lead. The battle for supremacy was between the two of them as they held a six lengths advantage on the rest of the field. Fort Larned would eventually prevail by 1/2 length after a stretch long duel. A valiant effort by Mucho Macho Man, but he would fall just short. Several lengths behind in 3rd and 4th was the Bill Mott trained duo of Flat Out and Ron the Greek. Fort Larned finished the race in a final time of 2:00.11 and paid $20.80 to win.
HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE 2012 BREEDERS CUP CHAMPIONSHIPS
- We saw just three favorites win in 15 races (Shanghai Bobby, Wise Dan and Royal Delta). A great time for bettors who went against the chalk and were looking for the big payouts.
- Royal Delta continued her dominance of the older filly & mare division with her back to back win in the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic. The win also put her name into consideration for Horse of the Year. In 2012, she has 4 wins in 7 races along with two runner-up efforts. Her wins aside from the Ladies Classic include a romp in the Beldame Invitational Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, Delaware Handicap -(G2) at Delaware Park and Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs. To me, it won’t be enough to win the award.
- Two undefeated fillies went down in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies as Beholder, trained by Richard Mandella dethroned both Executiveprivilege and Dreaming of Julia.
- Trainer Chad Brown continues his incredible 2012 campaign with yet another turf win. His French bred mare Zagora won her 5th graded stakes victory of 2012 (first Grade 1) with her win in the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf. She puts herself at the top of the female turf division at this point.
- Jockey Mike Smith surpasses Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey as the all-time leader in Breeders Cup wins with 17. Her posted wins on Royal Delta in the Ladies Classic and Mizdirection in the Turf Sprint. He almost made it 18 with Mucho Macho Man in the Classic.
- Groupie Doll stamped her name onto the ballot for Horse of the Year, top older female and female sprinter with her dominance of the Filly & Mare Sprint. She has made a mockery of her competition over the last several months.
- In my opinion, Little Mike winning the Turf ruined the chances of Point of Entry being named Horse of the Year. It also put Little Mike into contention with Point of Entry as the top older turf male. His wins in the Arlington Million and Breeders Cup Turf were impressive. Especially since both times, no one thought he could win.
- Shangahi Bobby is the leading contender to win the two year old male Eclipse Award and the 2013 Kentucky Derby after his hard fought win in the BC Juvenile. Let’s see if Todd Pletcher can play it right this time around.
- Fort Larned put himself into consideration for Horse of the Year with his 4th graded win of the year (2nd Grade 1 – Whitney). Not sure it will be enough to win the honor, but his win in the Classic and 3rd win out of his last four show he is at the top of his game.
Finally, I believe we saw the eventual Horse of the Year on Saturday afternoon when Wise Dan won yet another big race with relative ease in the BC Mile. Defeating Obviously, who set a track record at Del Mar a couple of months ago, Animal Kingdom and Excelebration in the same race is quite the feat. He now has five graded wins on the year at five different tracks, in two different countries at opposite sides of the continent. There are some that are close to him, but this horse deserves the high praise that people are giving. I’m not sure if we will see him again in 2012, but sure hope we get to see this talented horse in 2013.
Congratulations to all connections who won in the 2012 Breeders Cup Championships. We hope 2013 can be an even better event!