Charlie Appleby’s Modern Games powered to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf glory in extraordinary circumstances.
All the drama happened at the stalls, with stablemate Albahr becoming upset and subsequently withdrawn, and race favourite Modern Games – who was in the stall next to Albahr – also scratched by officials after coming out of the front of the stalls.
Confusion reigned as veterinary staff ruled he was in fact fit to race – and while it was decided he would be reinstated, rules dictated he could run for prize-money only and not for betting purposes.
The race was thankfully without incident, and when William Buick engaged top gear he swept clear to win in style from Tiz The Bomb and Mackinnon. However, unhappy racegoers vented their frustration with boos.
Appleby was delighted with the ultimate outcome, and just as pleased to report Albahr had what was thought to be only superficial cuts and that Frankie Dettori was unscathed.
It was a third win in the race for the Moulton Paddocks handler, who said: “It was a very peculiar chain of events and mentally very challenging for the horse, but I always felt he had the experience.
“The most important thing is that both horses are all right, and fortunately Modern Games pulled it out of the fire for us. He was actually under the pump a bit earlier than normal, but he picked up and kept finding.
“Albahr has some minor cuts and my vets are examining him. We were expecting the worst, but fortunately he’s OK.”
He added of the winner: “He will join our Guineas squad for next year. We will ship him back to the UK and winter away with him.”
Buick said: “There was a lot of confusion back there, but the horse did nothing wrong. They opened the front gate and he jumped out – he should have come of the back instead of the front.
“The guy that opened my gate pulled me out of the front and he told the officials what he did. Maybe there was a bit of confusion and panic, but my horse wasn’t harmed in any way. He was never touched.
“You could see how professional he was and he took everything in his stride.”
He added: “I don’t know why he was scratched, I was told afterwards.
“I knew he was going to run so I don’t want to focus on the whys and wherefores. It was out of my control.
“The booing was disappointing because he put up a very good performance.”