Sunday, January 6, 2019

Breeder's Cup Highlights, Day Two, 11-3-2018

                                    Breeder's Cup 2018 Photo Highlights

                                                             Day Two, 11-3-2018


Cherokee Run Stakes

As on Day One of the Breeder's Cup, Day Two on Saturday got underway with an notable performance in a non-Breeder's Cup race.  The 7 furlong Cherokee Run Stakes found the very gifted Audible making his return to the races, coming off a six month layoff following an excellent outing in the 2018 G1 Kentucky Derby in which he finished a closing third, defeated only 2 1/2 lengths by eventual Triple Crown winner, Justify.  Readied for his comeback with a series of solid five furlong works, this bay son of Into Mischief-Blue Devil Bel by Gilded Time broke alertly but was quickly eased back off a six horse speed duel up front.  From here he stalked about six lengths off the quick pace of 22.75 and 45.69 seconds down the backside, moved outside nearing the one half mile marker, mounted a five wide charge around the far turn, was four back at quarter pole, accelerated and grabbed the lead at the eighth pole after 3/4 mile in 1.09.98, then drew off under a strong ride to win by a widening  2 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1.22.46 over the fast dirt surface.  His opposition in the race was solid if not exceptional and the way he handled this field would appear to set him up well for forthcoming races against top-class competition.

Shamrock Rose

G1 BC Filly & Mare Sprint

Seven furlongs and 1:23.13 found four courageous and highly talented distaffers separated by no more than 1/2 length and 0.10 seconds on the wire.  Far back in the early running, eventual winner Shamrock Rose (#14) closed fastest of all in the final 1/4 mile, thrusting her nose in front right on the wire to seize the victory from Chalon (#6) who was a head back in second.  A neck further back, and also closing rapidly, was Anonymity (#12), while race-time favorite Marley's Freedom got rolling late and just missed the show placing.  Shamrock Rose was last seen winning the G2 Lexus Raven Run at Keeneland only two weeks earlier, while  Chalon was a very close second in the G2 TCA at Keeneland in April of this year.

Stormy Liberal

G1 BC Turf Sprint

Making his 30th start and seeking career victory number 12, coming off a three race win steak, and attempting to defend his 2017 BC Turf Sprint title, the gallant six year old gelding Stormy Liberal proved up to the arduous task as he prevailed in a stirring stretch duel over post time favorite World Of Trouble on the yielding turf surface at Churchill Downs.  Breaking alertly and getting the first call from his nine hole, jockey Drayden Van Dyke quickly took hold of his enthusiastic partner, settled him just off the pace, swung three wide as they moved around the turn, then challenged the leader as they straightened into the stretch.  Here the veteran son of Stormy Atlantic-Vassar by Royal Academy and his upstart three year old challenger, World Of Trouble, put on a display of guts and glory as the two of them quickly separated from the pack, opening over seven lengths on the wire from third place finisher Disco Partner, with Stormy Atlantic thrusting his revered nose to the fore on the wire, a gasping nostril separating him from his gallant young rival.  Now approaching $2,000,000 in earnings, this wonderful horse as yet shows no sign of losing either desire nor talent as he faces his seventh birthday, and how grand it would be if good fortune could find him attempting yet another defence of his BC Turf Sprint title in 2019.  

City Of Light

G1 BC Dirt Mile

The G1 BC Dirt Mile drew a particularly star-studded filed, with odds-on favoritism going to the previously undefeated, and effectively unchallenged, California invader Catalina Cruiser (Union Rags-Sea Gull by Mineshaft).  Drawing significant wagering support as post-time second favorite was another California-based colt, the four year old City Of Light, he by the red-hot stallion Quality Road out of the Dehere mare, Paris Notion.  For his part City Of Light had proven near unbeatable at the middle distance of seven furlongs this year, and had stretched his considerable talent to 1 1/8th miles at Oaklawn Park this past April where he narrowly defeated the outstanding Accelerate by a slowly diminishing neck margin in the G2 Oaklawn Handicap.  After an atypical lackluster outing in the 1 1/4 mile Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May, he was given a rest and surfaced next at Saratoga where he was an excellent second to Whitmore in the G1 Forego, a race which appeared to set him up perfectly for this one turn mile at Churchill Downs.  Breaking slightly sluggishly from his one post position, jockey Javier Castellano sensed no other rider anxious for the lead, thus encouraged his most willing partner to accelerate up the rail and within 1/16th mile City Of Light was head to head with the pace, within 1/8th mile had seized control alone on the lead by 1 1/2 lengths and racing willingly under a long rein.  An opening quarter mile in a very speedy 22.64 seconds was followed by an even quicker second quarter in 22.52 seconds, thus getting the 1/2 mile in 45.16, but all done easily by this fluid moving four year old.  At the top of the stretch, after 3/4 mile in 1.09.03, the race was for second as City Of Light had much in reserve and very willingly opened up a four length advantage coming down the long Churchill stretch.  Eased slightly before the wire,the final winning margin of 2 3/4 lengths could have been greater if desired.  With seven furlongs run in 1.20.97, the final time for the mile was 1.33.83, only .56 seconds off the track record.  Although the significance of comparable times is open to debate, from this perspective alone the feat of City Of Light this day stands out as an exceptional performance on a day of exceptional performances!  Completing the placings were Seeking The Soul and Bravazo, with Catalina Cruiser fading to a very well beaten sixth place, finishing some 17 lengths behind.  Such an inexplicable poor outing raises questions as to whether something was amiss this day with this clearly very talented colt.


 Sistercharlie (IRE) 

G1 BC Filly & Mare Turf

The G1 Maker's Mark Breeder's Cup Filly and Mare Turf saw another stirring finish, as an outstanding field of 14 entered the gate for this 1 3/8 mile trip on the yielding turf.  Breaking sharply from her #9 post position, A Raving Beauty (GER)  quickly grasped the lead and led throughout , getting caught on the wire by Sistercharlie (IRE) (#6) and favorite Wild Illusion (GB) (#3).  The victorious four year old Sistercharlie (IRE) made her 2018 debut at Keeneland on 4/14/2018 when she captured the G1 Jenny Wiley.  She was next a narrowly beaten second in the G2 New York at Belmont before going on to capture the prestigious G1 Diana at Saratoga and G1 Beverly D at Arlington leading up to Saturdays ultimate victory.  With a 2018 record of four G1 wins from five outings, it may well prove that she has accomplished enough to grasp championship honors for turf filly and mares.  Her only competition for the Eclipse will come from the so magnificent Enable (GB) but, with the latter having only one start in North America, the bias here is to grant the garland to the consistently brilliant Sistercharlie(IRE).

Roy H

G1 BC Sprint

Multiple G1 winner Roy H proved far too good this day as he captured the G1 Twin Spires Breeder's Cup Sprint by a facile 3 1/4 lengths, in so doing gaining his third stake win of the year.  Breaking sharply from his nine post position, jockey Paco Lopez eased him back off a sizzling opening quarter of 21.35 seconds and allowed him to settle about three lengths off the pace.  Approaching the 3/8 mile marker, Lopez asked the six year old son of More Than Ready-Elusive Diva by Elusive Quality for his best and the courageous warrior responded instantly.  Moving three wide around the turn, Roy had grasped the lead at the quarter pole while running an opening 1/2 mile in a blistering 44.21 seconds.  Full of fire, there was to be no stopping this grand old gelding as he opened with apparent ease to capture consecutive running of the BC Sprint by a widening 3 1/4 lengths, while completing the six furlongs in an excellent 1.08.24.  Now a duel winner of this prestigious Breeder's Cup Sprint, this six year old son bay was capturing his fourth G1 victory and now has a record of 22-9-5-2 while always competing against the fastest horses in the country.  Trained by Peter Miller, he now has career earnings exceeding $3,000,000.  Roy H was bred by one of racing's finest breeders and racing advocates, Romana Bass, and was foaled and raised on her behalf at legendary Claiborne Farm.

Expert Eye (GB)

G1 BC Mile

Less than one length separated the top five finishers in the G1 Breeder's Cup Mile.  Expert Eye GB), trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by the irrepressible Lanfranco (Frankie) Dettori, proved victorious by 1/2 length, while the next four horses were separated by a neck, nose, and a head in another thrilling renewal of this grand race.  The photos tell the story of the dramatic stretch drive, and no words can describe the love of life and enthusiasm for racing embodied within Frankie Dettori.  The photos tell it all!  Gotta love Frankie!

Monomoy Girl

G1 BC Distaff

Capping a stellar season which saw no horse finish in front of her, the wonderful Monomoy Girl displayed her championship quality as she handily defeated an excellent field of distaffers in the 1 1/8 mile G1 Longines Breeder's Cup Distaff.  Breaking alertly, Monomoy Girl closely tracked the very honest early fractions of pace setter Wonder Gadot (23.39, 47.57), before surging to the fore around the 3/8ths marker, opening up a two length lead as they straightened into the stretch, and then comfortably holding off the closing kicks of Wow Cat (CHI) and Midnight Bisou who finished second and third respectively.  The winning margin of one length was flattering to her opposition as jockey Florent Geroux hand rode this brilliant daughter of Tapizar-Drumette by Henny Hughes the entire length of the stretch.  The French born, now naturalized American, Geroux commented that Monomoy Girl tends to idle and look for competition when she gets to the lead too early.  Sensing this, he still chose not to give her any reminders with his stick, stating that she historically has responded erratically to the whip, so he "rolled the dice" and gave her a vigorous hand ride to the wire.  With a 2018 official record of six wins from seven starts, in fact she has never been defeated on the racetrack, her only loss coming via disqualification in the G1 Cotillion.  A winner this April in Keeneland's prestigious G1 Ashland Stakes, she subsequently went on to annex the G1 Kentucky Oaks on her way to this very special season.  While undoubtably this year's Eclipse winner as champion three year old filly, her lifetime career of nine wins and two seconds (again, one via disqualification) from eleven starts, including five G1 victories, will most certainly place her on nomination blanks for Hall of Fame induction when her racing career is completed.  Truly, an exceptional race horse.

Enable (GB)

G1 BC Turf

For many of the 70,000 fans attending Saturdays's Day 2 of the Breeder's Cup, the highlight was the opportunity to witness a filly felt by some to be the best in the world (although the avid supporters of Australian superstar Winx might take exception to such an assumption!), the glorious Enable (GB).  A winner last year as a three year old of the most prestigious race in Europe, the G1 Prix de Arc de Triomphe, Enable (GB) this year had setbacks in her training which made a start in this year's running of the Arc doubtful.. She responded, however, to treatment and was able to get one prep race over an all-weather track prior to her Arc start one month later.  Her setbacks mattered not as she produced a brilliant performance to become a gem even rarer than a Triple Crown winner, a two time winner of the Arc!  With nothing more to prove her connections, however, chose to challenge her even further and elected to bring her to America and attempt to accomplish what heretofore had never been achieved, that being victory in the Breeder's Cup Turf in the same season as winning the Arc.  On eight previous occasions such had been attempted and on each occasion the effort was found wanting,  thus a victory in this 1 1/2 mile daunting turf test was unprecedented.  Entering into the gate as odd-on favorite, Enable broke alertly from her #2 post position, and from here jockey Frankie Dettori quickly maneuvered her away from the softer going on the rail, getting into the four and five paths without hesitation.  Travelling here, she stalked about five lengths off the pace as the field entered the stretch for the first time and, although she seemed to be moving well, Dettori said in fact that she was having difficulty with the ground, it tending to be breaking away from her as she attempted to stride out.  Moving down the backside she was kept as far off the rail as feasible, the decision being a compromise between better footing but giving up valuable real estate travelling so wide.  Around the 3/8th marker Dettori made his decision. Swinging eight paths wide he swung her into the stretch and laid her down for the stretch run.  Joining her in this move, immediately to her inside and initially running with her as a team, was Magical (IRE), a three year old daughter of the world's greatest living sire, Galileo (GB), and recent winner of a G1 1 1/2 mile test at Ascot.  The two quickly separated from the remainder of the field, opening up a commanding nine length lead on their over-matched opponents as both fillies raced closer to the outside rail than the inside in their search for the ideal footing.  As gallant and brilliant as Magical (IRE) was on this day, ultimately Enable (GB) proved her dominance over her worthy challenger, gradually taking command and, while eased the last several jumps, prevailed by 1/2 length on the wire.  Surely now belonging in any conversation pertaining to the greatest European horses of all time, a European Horse of the Year recognition appears most assured.  The greatness of not only Enable (GB) but also Magical (IRE) reminds us in this country that, while inroads are being made in the breeding of top turf horses, it remains the exception rather than the rule that US-bred horses are able to compete on the lawn with the best from Europe.  Hopefully in time that fact that will change as turf racing in America is becoming much more popular but, for the present, while America clearly dominates dirt racing, the greensward still belongs to Europe!  I suspect, that while many outstanding performances were witnessed in the two days of this year's event, many years from now, when discussion turns to the 2018 Breeder's Cup, it will be forever be remembered as the year of Enable (GB)!

I apologize...sort of... for the very many photos of this race.  Skip over if you so desire.  For me, I think history will prove Enable (GB) one of the all-time great horses of either sex, by any standard of racing excellence.  This likely was my only opportunity to ever see her so, if you will, indulge my enthusiasm for her marvel.  Feast your eyes, for her type pass our way only very infrequently!  And, if you will, again make note of Frankie Dettori on post parade, and witness how, with a horse beyond value beneath him and the eyes of the racing world bearing down upon him as Enable (GB) attempts to accomplish the unprecedented, he is laughing and having the most marvelous time talking and guffawing with his outrider.  Talk about grace under about understanding that life is short and one must seize the moment with complete gusto and live it to the fullest!  And by comparison, study the seriousness, the intensity and total concentration in his eyes and the set of his mouth during the running of the race as he now has total focus on the arduous task at hand, and then feel the exhilaration and expression of unbridled joy when he knows victory is theirs!  Frankie Dettori knows how to live life!  What a great partner for this magnificent filly!  Finally, make note of Magical.  How great she was in defeat!  What may we see from her next year?


G1 BC Classic

While for many the highlight of the two day Breeder's Cup will always be witnessing the performance of the incomparable Enable, that is not to say there was not tremendous interest in the $6,000,000 G1 Breeder's Cup Classic run over 1 1/4 mile on the dirt.  As always, the race attracted the finest dirt horses in training at this time    Unfortunately, because of injury presenting following the G1 Belmont, the 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify was not a part of the field, he having been retired to stud earlier this year as he joined 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah at Ashford Stud.  The favorite for this year's renewal was the ultra-consistent Accelerate, trained by John Sadler.  With the exception of one excursion to Oaklawn Park where he was a narrowly defeated second in the G2 Oaklawn Handicap in April, Accelerate has been racing exclusively in California where he has proven to be unbeatable.  The winner of four G1 races this year coming into Saturday's race, the five year old son of Lookin At Lucky-Issues by Awesome Again was made the deserving favorite on the late sunny afternoon under the venerable Twin Spires of Churchill Downs.  Breaking from the outside #14 hole, Accelerate was ideally positioned 4-5 lengths off the fast pace set by the impressive three year old Mendelssohn, the latter setting fractions of 22.60 and 46.61 for the first quarter and half respectively, very quick for this 1 1/4 mile distance.  Around the far turn jockey Joel Rosario swung Accelerate outside for clear running room and the classy horse took command as they straightened for home.  Under heavy urging throughout the stretch drive Accelerate was able to narrowly prevail and hold off the oncoming charge of Gunnevera, Thunder Snow, and Yoshida, while the three year old Mendelsson ran gallantly in defeat as he begrudgingly gave way, finishing fifth beaten about four lengths.  The official winning margin was one length for Accelerate over Gunnevera with another 3/4ths length back to Thunder Snow (IRE) in third.  The final running time was 2:02.93.  Accelerate is now at Lane's End Farm where he will get some well deserved time off before returning to California to prepare for he Pegasus Cup in the early new year, following which current plans are for him to retire to stud at Lane's End.