There were many great stories and headlines following the two days of horse racing at Churchill Downs. As expected with many of the best horses worldwide competing against each other in Kentucky there would be many upsets. It didn’t take long for the upsets to make their mark as the first of nine races started with a 41/1 long shot taking the Breeders’ Cup Marathon.
Breeders’ Cup Marathon (G2) Results
With just one graded stakes win to his credit, the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on April 24, 2010, this win by Afleet Again was a complete shock. He was the longest shot on the board and hadn’t won a race since that Grade 3 win. He sat towards the back of the pack the entire race, then made a huge move half way the stretch. He took over the lead and drew off to win by 2 1/4 lengths. He ran the 1 3/4 miles race in 3:00.39. Just 4/5 of a second off the track record.
Afleet Again – Robert Reid Jr. – Cornelio Velasquez
Birdrun – William Mott
Giant Oak – Chris Block
Pleasant Prince – Wesley Ward
Cease – Albert Stall Jr.
Eldaafer – Diane Alvarado
Baryshnikov – Michael Maker
Brigantin – Andre Fabre
Harrison’s Cove (GB) – Aidan O’Brien
Meeznah – David Lanigan
A.U. Miner – Clark Hanna
After having such a successful run with his turf champions Cape Blanco (IRE) and Treasure Beach (GB) in their debuts in the US, you knew it was a matter of time before a horse from the Aidan O’Brien stable would notch a win at this year Breeders’ Cup. On day one, he had a 4th, 14th, 3rd and 10th before his two year old colt Wrote (IRE) would walk away with the Juvenile Turf for two year old colts and geldings.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) Results
He sat in the middle of the pack in the one mile race on the turf, then split horses coming down the lane to take over the lead. Jockey Ryan Moore did a fantastic job waiting for his spot and once it came he let his horse run. That is exactly what he did. He took the lead, then opened up a comfortable lead. He won by 2 1/2 lengths and ran the one mile race in 1:37.41.
Wrote (IRE) – Aidan O’Brien – Ryan Moore
Excaper – Ian Blacj
Farraaj – Roger Varian
Lucky Chappy – Graham Motion
Animal Spirits – Albert Stall Jr.
Daddy Nose Best – Steven Asmussen
Finale – Todd Pletcher
Caspar Netscher (GB) – Alan McCabe
Shkspeare Shaliyah – Doodnauth Shivmangal
Fantastic Song – Chad Brown
Coalport – Wayne Catalano
State of Play – Graham Motion
Majestic City – Peter Miller
Tequila Factor – Wayne Catalano
Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Results
Heading into this race, the talk was all about the track records broken by both Big Drama and Euroears as well as the six race winning streak by Giant Ryan. Big Drama was also the defending champion. I don’t believe anyone expected all three of them to be the last three to cross the finish line. Stealing the show was the Bill Spawr trained Amazombie, who was coming off a solid win in the Grade 1 Ancient Title stakes at Santa Anita. Euroears and Giant Ryan had no chance after they posted fraction of 21.12 and 44.41 in the first half mile. They were nose and nose the first part of the race. Amazombie stayed back and waited for his opportunity. That time came as the leaders were faltering and he had an opening on the outside. Jockey Smith circled the field and made a big move down the middle of the track. They took the lead with an 1/8 mile to go, and got up just in time to defeat Force Freeze by a neck. The five year old gelding ran the six furlongs in 1:09.17.
Amazombie – William Spawr – Mike Smith
Force Freeze – Peter Walder
Jackson Bend – Nick Zito
Aikenite – Todd Pletcher
Hamazing Destiny – D. Wayne Lukas
Apriority – David Fawkes
Big Drama – David Fawkes
Giant Ryan – Bisnath Parboo
Euroears – Bob Baffert
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) Results
Steven Asmussen already had one win at this year’s Breeders’ Cup with My Miss Aurelia in the Juvenile Fillies, but that wasn’t enough as he took the Turf Sprint with his front running speedster Regally Ready. Fresh off a huge win in the $500,000 Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine last month, this four year old chestnut gelding would go gate to wire once again. He dueled early on with filly Rapport, but would take over the lead after 3/8 of a mile. He would not be caught after that point. He went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths and finish the 5 furlongs sprint on the turf in 56.48.That was his 4th graded stakes victory and 6th win in last 8 races. He has 9 wins in 17 career races and has been in the money 15 of those 17. Incredible.
Regally Ready – Steven Asmussen – Corey Nakatani
Country Day – Steve Margolis
Perfect Officer – Michael Pino
Great Attack – Wesley Ward
Caracortado – Michael Machowsky
Rapport – Ronny Werner
Camp Victory – Mike Mitchell
Chamberlain Bridge – Bret Calhoun
Holiday for Kitten – Wesley Ward
Grand Adventure – Mark Frostad
Hoofit (NZ) – Graham Motion
California Flag – Brian Koriner
Broken Dreams – Thomas Proctor
Havelock – Darrin Miller
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) Results
In a year where horse of the year honors is up in the as many top stakes races have been won by so many different horses, Caleb’s Posse has put together a string of races in the latter part of 2011 that has to have his name in serious consideration. He won the Ohio Derby (G3) going 1 1/16 miles, Amsterdam Stakes (G2) going 6 1/2 furlongs, beat Uncle Mo in the seven furlongs Foxwoods King’s Bishop Stakes (G1) and now won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). He has won at the Grade 1,2 and 3 levels, at four different distances and against the top horses in the country.
As usual, he sat well off the quick pace set by both Shackleford and The Factor (22.49 and 45.36 for the first half mile). The Don Von Hemel colt was in no hurry to join them. He sat in 8th out of 9 horses and waited for his chance to shine. That moment came as they turned for home. The Factor started to fade, Shackleford was hanging on, barely, and no other horses were making a serious move. Jockey Rajiv Maragh took his horse to the outside away from all traffic. It was a smart move. He gained with every stride and by they time they reached halfway down the stretch he had caught the field. Comfortable he was hand ridden to the lead and took off to win the race by 4 lengths. He finished the one mile race in 1:34.59. Just one second off the track record.
Caleb’s Posse – Donnie Von Hemel – Rajiv Maragh
Shackleford – Dale Romans
Tres Barrachos – Martin Jones
Trappe Shot – Kiaran McLaughlin
Tapizar – Steven Asmussen
Jersey Town – Barclay Tagg
Wilburn – Steven Asmussen
The Factor – Bob Baffert
Irrefutable – Bob Baffert
Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) Results
Trainer Aidan O’Brien finally broke through with his two year old colt Wrote (IRE) in the Juvenile Turf earlier in the day. One was obviously not enough as his four year old colt St. Nicholas Abbey was making his North American debut, and it was a debut that would make his trainer very pleased. To make the entire situation even more fulfilling for O’Brien is that his 18 year old son Joseph steered this colt to victory. Making him the youngest jockey to win a race at the Breeders’ Cup.
Joseph had St. Nicholas Abbey towards the back of the field early on while the other O’Brien trained horse Await the Dawn set the pace. The favorite, French bred filly Sarafina was stride for stride with Abbey near the back. As the field turned for home, it was a mess. Horses on the lead were tiring and those at the back couldn’t find room to get to the lead. American horse Brilliant Speed found the lead as they straightened out, but was quickly joined by St. Nicholas Abbey as Joseph O’Brien waited and found a small opening. In a blink of an eye, the O’Brien colt was clear in front and sailed to victory and won by 2 1/2 lengths. Sea Moon (GB), trained by Sir Michael Stoute, after a horrible start to the race found his way up for 2nd, with Brilliant Speed ending up 3rd. The filly Sarafina couldn’t find room until it was too late and settled for 4th. The final time for the 1 1/2 mile was 2:25.85.
St. Nicholas Abbey – Aidan O’Brien – Joseph O’Brien
Sean Moon (GB) – Sir Michael Stoute
Brilliant Speed – Thomas Albertrani
Sarafina (FR) – Alain De Royer-Dupre
Stately Victor – Michael Maker
Midday (GB) – Henry Cecil
Await the Dawn – Aidan O’Brien
Teaks North – Justin Sallusto
Dean’s Kitten – Michael Maker
Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Results
With two year olds, you just never know what to expect. For the most part you can handicap the limited races they have run in their brief career, but come race day anything can happen. That theory held true in this race. Coming off his win in the Bluegrass Cat Kentucky Cup Juvenile Stakes, the gray colt Hansen was considered a threat, but no one expected him or anyone else in the field to defeat the overwhelming even money favorite Union Rags. Union Rags had easily defeated his rivals in all three of his races including the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes.
Hansen took the lead in this race, and was out in front with no pressure. Never a good sign for anyone else looking to come from behind. Union Rags took his spot in the middle of the pack. The second choice in the race, Creative Cause was a couple of horses back from the lead. As they turned for home, Hansen was still in front by a length, Union Rags made his way up to 2nd passing Creative Cause in the process. Half way down the stretch it looked as if the favorite was going to pass the front runner, but he drifted in and out the entire way and never could catch up. Hansen would hang on to win by a head, Union Rags settled for 2nd and Creative Cause was a length back in 3rd. It was another 5 lengths back to Dullahan and even more for the rest of the field. For Hansen, that was his first graded stakes victory. For Union Rags, that was his first career defeat.
Hansen – Michael Maker – Ramon Dominguez
Union Rags – Michael Matz
Creative Cause – Mike Harrington
Dullahan – Dale Romans
Take Charge Indy – Patrick Byrne
Crusade – Aidan O’Brien
Fort Loudon – Stanley Gold
Optimizer – D. Wayne Lukas
Speightscity – Gary Contessa
Drill – Bob Baffert
Alpha – Kiaran McLaughlin
Daddy Long Legs – Aidan O’Brien
Prospective – Mark Casse
TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) Results
The big story line heading into the Breeders’ Cup was the European super mare Goldikova and the opportunity for her to win an unprecedented fourth straight Breeders’ Cup Mile. She has been nothing less than stellar throughout her career in Europe winning multiple Group 1 races, defeating several male fields, and was 3 for 3 on US soil. This would be her last career race.
The early leaders weren’t a surprise as Get Stormy, Sidney’s Candy and Jeranimo held those positions. Goldikova held her spot just off the lead, saving ground on the rail. The second choice and multiple grade 1 winner Gio Ponti was back 8th. Positions didn’t change much throughout the race. As they turned for home, an opening appeared to both Goldikova and Courageous Cat. Courageous Cat had the opening, but in my opinion jockey Olivier Peslier made a bold move and took the opening, completely stopping Cat in his tracks. She ended up taking over the lead. It look ed as if she was going to draw off and get that 4th straight BC Mile win, but two huge moves from 64/1 longshot Court Vision and 11/1 Turallure were enough to get past the female champion. With the biggest shocker of the weekend Court Vision, who hadn’t won a race since the Woodbine Mile Stakes last September, nor been in the top 3 in the six following races, won by a nose over Turallure, with Goldikova a length back in 3rd. Gio Ponti would get up for 4th. There was an inquiry from jockey Patrick Valenzuela aboard Courageous Cat. No changes were made to the final results. If this were any other horse, aside from Goldikova, they would have been taken down. Clearly, Peslier did not have the right to come over that much on Cat. He had to stop right in his tracks, never recovered and finished last.
Go to the 1:26 mark of this video and see for yourself. Let’s not ttake away anything from what Court Vision and Turallure did. They ran incredible.
Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Results
Trainer Bill Mott already had a great win under his belt on Friday with his three year old filly Royal Delta taking the Ladies’ Classic. No one would have expected that his 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer would pull off the unthinkable and win the open classic for him as well. This four year old chestbut colt missed exactly 9 months after upsetting the field in last year’s Belmont Stakes. He came back to finish 4th in the Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on March 5. He finished 5th a month later in the Skip Away Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He would get back in the win column on May 15 in the One Count Stakes at Belmont Park. He followed that up with a 2nd in the 1 1/2 miles Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap in June. His return to Grade 1 company was not successful, as he finished 7th in the Sword Dancer Invitational Stakes at Saratoga. Albeit, it was an attempt to see how this colt would run on the turf. His last race prior to the Classic was a solid 2nd to Flat Out in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes. Was that enough to make him a threat? I guess so.
The early leaders in the 1 1/4 miles dirt race was Game on Dude and Uncle Mo. They set decent fractions of 23.2 47.4 and 1:12.4 for the first six furlongs. Three year old and Uncle Mo stable mate Stay Thirsty sat off the lead in 3rd while star filly Havre de Grace and favorite Flat Out back in the middle of the field. As they turned for home, Uncle Mo had already began to tire, but Game on Dude in a fantastic effort dug in and looked as if he wold wire the the field. Havre de Grace and Flat Out were giving it what they could, same with this year’s Belmont Stakes winner Ruler on Ice. Game on Dude with jockey Chantal Sutherland were all but ready to ccross the wire the winner, but from all the way back and down the middle of the stretch came Drosselmeyer with jockey Mike Smith. In the final few strides, Drosselemeyer over took Game on Dude to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Game on Dude finished 2nd, Ruler on Ice got up for 3rd, Havre de Grace finish the board in 4th.
Quite the accomplishment for trainer Bill Mott. He ends the first day with Royal Delta winning the Ladie’s Classic, then finishes the 2nd day winning tthe Classic. Royal Delat was expected to win her race as she was the favorite. Drosselmeyer went off at odds of 14/1. The 8th choice out of 12 horses.
Drosselmeyer – William Mott – Mike Smith
Game on Dude – Bob Baffert
Ruler on Ice – Kelly Breen
Havre de Grace – Larry Jones
Flat Out – Charles ‘Scooter’ Dickey
So You Think (NZ) – Aidan O’Brien
To Honor and Serve – William Mott
Ice Box – Nick Zito
Rattlesnake Bridge – Kiaran McLaughlin
Uncle Mo – Todd Pletcher
Stay Thirsty – Todd Pletcher
Headache – Michael Maker
So what did we learn this weekend?
1. The Breeders’ Cup is setup for huge upsets. Five races had winners with odds of 14/1 or more (14, 20, 27, 41 and 61/1). Regally Ready, Royal Delta, My Miss Aurelia and Secret Circle were the only favorites to win out of the 15 races.
2. It was not a shock to anyone other than Todd Pletcher and Repole Stables that Uncle Mo did not run well going 1 1/4 miles.
3. Mike Smith likes to beat his ex-girlfriend Chantal Sutherland in the big races!
Bill Mott, winner of the Ladie’s Classic and Classic.
* Honorable Mention – Aidan O’Brien, winner of the Juvenile Turf and Turf.
* Honorable Mention – Steven Asmussen, winner of the Juvenile Fillies and Turf Sprint
Mike Smith, winner of the Sprint and Classic.
* Honorable Mention – John Velasquez, winner of the Juvenile Fillies Turf and F&M Turf
* Honorable Mention – Corey Nakatani, winner of the Juvenile Fillies and Turf Sprint
BEST MALE HORSE
Caleb’s Posse, winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile by 4 lengths. His fifth stakes win this year and 4th in graded company.
BEST FEMALE HORSE
My Miss Aurelia, winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies by 3 lengths. She remains unbeaten in 4 starts.
Court Vision winning the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile at odds of 64/1, defeating three-peat champion Goldikova as well.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Joseph O’Brien, at the age of just 18, wins aboard his Dad’s horse St. Nicholas Abbey in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.