Tag Archive for: Breeders’ Cup

Loughnane looking forward to 2022 with juvenile stars

David Loughnane is excited about next year for Go Bears Go and Hello You after they ended their juvenile campaigns with excellent performances at the Breeders’ Cup.

Go Bears Go was a fast-finishing half-length runner-up to Twilight Gleaming in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar, while Hello You just faded in the last half-furlong when fifth to Pizza Bianca in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf.

Both horses were Group Two winners in 2021 with Go Bears Go taking the Railway Stakes at the Curragh and Hello You the Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket.

“It was a great experience and both ran great races. I couldn’t be happier with them,” said the Shropshire handler.

As for next year, Loughnane plans to aim Go Bears Go at the Commonwealth Cup and Hello You will begin in a Classic trial.

“I thought going into it five might be a bit sharp for him over there. He missed the break by a millisecond which he’s never done before,” he said.

“I don’t know whether it was the stalls are wider over there or having a stalls handler in the gate with him that just took his mind off the job for half a second.

“Had he jumped, he’d have won. In four more strides he’d have won, but I couldn’t be any prouder of the horse. He ran an absolute belter of a race and it capped off a fantastic year for him.

“Five to six furlongs will be his trip over here next year. I suppose the most logical option would be something along the lines of the Commonwealth Cup.

“We’ll see how it goes. He thrived off the whole travelling. There are loads of options, including Dubai at the end of February. He’ll go for a nice holiday now and then we’ll take it one step at a time. We’ll see how he is come January and then we’ll make a plan from there.”

Loughnane felt the long trip to California took its toll on Hello You, but has no concerns about her staying a mile next season.

“The journey over there probably took a bit more out of her. She jumped, she travelled, she got a lovely run through the race,” he went on.

“She travelled like a dream and turning for home, I thought how far does she win, then when Johnny (Velazquez) asked her she just didn’t go though with it completely. She pulled up a tired horse. It took a lot out of her. She was only beaten a length and a half in a Grade One over there when she wasn’t at her best.

“I have no doubt on her day she was probably the best horse in the race. She’ll go for a holiday as well now and we’ll come back and try for a Guineas trial with her.

“I have no concerns about her getting the mile. I said whatever she did this year was only going to be a bonus to what she does next year.”

Monday Musings: Breeders’ Cup Digest

It has taken 362 runs from 126 individual horses and many thousands of motorway miles in their distinctive royal blue vans to earn the Charlie Appleby stable £4,827,062 in win and place money this year, writes Tony Stafford. Thus he enters the last seven weeks of 2021 with an unchallenged situation, guaranteeing his first trainers’ championship in the UK.

It took six horses on a single day <if you count UK time, which for the purposes of the starkness of the comparison, I am> walking the few hundred yards from the Del Mar international barn in the backstretch to the saddling area and back, to add £2,690,000 (55.7% of his entire UK endeavours) on November 6 alone.

Purists will point to the last on Friday at 7.30p.m. (daylight saving kicked in a week later in the US than the UK) and the two on Saturday, but in any event they were all comfortably within a 24-hour time-frame. The clocks went back in California at 2 a.m. yesterday earning the team from Moulton Paddocks a theoretical extra hour in bed. I doubt if any of them even bothered to turn in at all!

Six runners made the walk to potential equine immortality, two adorned with the pre-race red hood which denotes a trainer worries sufficiently about his horse’s temperament to defuse the potential problem of walking through the boisterous crowds that line the route to the saddling boxes.

The red-hooded pair were in Friday’s Juvenile Turf, Albahr, drawn two and next to stable-mate Modern Games in one, and on Saturday in the Mile, again on the Turf track, 2,000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas, drawn one with his better-fancied elder stable-companion Space Blues in three.

Connections of many of the other European contenders would have enjoyed the chance of running from those plum draws around the tightest of tight circuits. Conversely, in the aftermath, the ever-measured Appleby said: “When they do get drawn there on the inside, they potentially can have a much longer wait and therefore more time to get upset if that’s their character.

“We had no inkling that the horses would behave in this way and it is something we’ll have to address when we get home. Happily both horses, and riders Frankie Dettori and James Doyle, are fine. Frankie especially was lucky to be dragged from Albahr and it’s unfortunate that the stalls man who helped him, got an injury from the horse.”

From a dual assault on three races, only their runners in the Turf produced the full complement from the stalls, with seven-year-old Walton Street (Doyle) actually a shorter price at the departure than Buick’s mount, Yibir.

Both horses had been sent to North American on September 18 for their previous races. Walton Street was off first in Canada (10.35 p.m. UK time) for the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine which he won in a canter by almost six lengths.

Ten minutes later (10.45 p.m.) it was Yibir’s turn at Belmont Park and he comfortably put away six fellow three-year-olds in the Jockey Club Derby Invitational. This race as yet carries no official Grade category – it was merely a very valuable Conditions race – and Yabir beat a field including Bolshoi Ballet, who finished sixth on Saturday.

That made it more than £500k for the two September 18 races in ten minutes. Yibir’s strong finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf to peg back Broome, who had raced into what looked like an invincible lead in the straight, alone earned a second-best prize of the weekend of £1.5 million and change.

All three Godolphin winners won convincingly. Modern Games and Yibir both came wide under Buick from some way back and finished very strongly. Contrastingly, Space Blues was always close to the lead and held off a late challenge to win by half a length. He had been singled out by Appleby as the likeliest winner and in fulfilling that prophecy has earned a deserved place at stud after 11 career wins from 19 starts. As a son of Dubawi he will have every chance of making a success as a stallion.

The best Coolmore Ireland position was Broome’s second to Yibir on a day when Japan, the country, not the horse who was fourth to Yibir, posted (like London buses) its first two wins at the Breeders’ Cup. Broome all this year has worn the silks of M Matsushima, a partner in the five-year-old along with the Magnier, Tabor and Smith triumvirate. [Coolmore did record a score, via Wesley Ward, more of which anon]

A son of Australia, you would imagine Mr Matsushima might want to stand the horse in Japan one day. The racing fraternity will be euphoric after trainer Yashito Yahagi’s double that almost matched the exploits of Appleby and Buick. Japan is spectacularly the best-endowed racing authority in the world. While its industry traditionally has been inward-looking, these so-visible wins will provide more of their top owners and trainers with the confidence to target the biggest prizes all around the world.

Easily the more authoritative of the Japanese triumphs was the fast finish provided by Loves Only You in the Filly and Mare Turf race, extended this year to 1m3f to take account of the configuration of the Del Mar Turf course.

It hadn’t helped Audarya’s attempt at a second successive win after her victory over 9.5 furlongs at Keeneland last year. William Buick – guessing wrong for the only time over the two days – dropped her in from her widest draw, got across nicely and in good position on the rail only to run into an equine brick wall turning for home. In the circumstances, fifth and 40-odd grand would have been consolation for the Swinburn and Fanshawe families.

Love’s route could hardly have been worse, three wide all the way. She had the class to strike for the lead in the straight but was soon challenged and in the end could manage only fourth as Loves Only You brought her earnings within a UK Group 1 success of £5million. A five-year-old daughter of Deep Impact, she has a wonderful turn of foot.

No UK-based jockey has as strong an association with Japanese racing as Oisin Murphy, who spends as much of his winters – and collects as many billions of Yen – as he can riding over there. His association with Deirdre, now a seven-year-old on whom he won the 2019 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, was a comparable breakthrough to Saturday’s at the time.

Oisin was seen congratulating the Japanese rider Yuga Kawada straight after the Filly and Mare Turf and two hours later he joined the party in his own right, partnering Marche Lorraine, also a five-year-old, in the Distaff on the dirt track.

This race was supposed to be a private affair between some fast locals, but they went much too quickly, cancelling each other out and all giving in before the straight. Oisin could be seen halfway down the back going best, his red cap moving forward while his mare, a 50-1 shot, was still under restraint. That collapse up front meant he got the lead too soon and in the end it took a triple champion’s ability to keep her going for a short-head verdict.

I loved the day’s final race, the Classic, where Knicks Go beat Medina Spirit, and I also very much enjoyed Life Is Good, runaway winner of the Dirt Mile and Golden Pal, flying winner of the Turf Sprint, the last named for Coolmore America and Wesley Ward.

Also, I’ve never seen a horse running in a million plus dollar race but not for betting purposes. The former favourite too, Modern Games bolting up to a chorus of boos from the crowd who had been obliged to give back their tickets for refund as the horses waited to go. [Worse still, our esteemed editor had ‘singled’ Modern Games in the last leg of a Pick 4: his sole option re-routing to the non-winning favourite in the race!]

No boos from the Doncaster crowd on the final day of the 2021 turf season at Doncaster. John Butler’s Farhan, the 9-2 favourite for the season’s final big event, the November Handicap, ridden by Hollie Doyle, bolted up. The only piece of luck was that the three-year-old son of Zoffany squeezed in exactly as number 23 at the foot of the weights. The triumph (and landed gamble) was delivered with military precision by trainer and rider on probably Hollie’s last year not to be asked to ride at the Breeders’ Cup.

Butler has another important assignment this week. On Friday Poetic Music, an easy bumper winner on debut at Market Rasen, is lot number 1 at Tattersalls Cheltenham post-racing sale. A big filly, she looks the type to figure in black type juvenile fillies’ races for the rest of the season. So bid away – you will be making someone very happy!

One happy camper – and he always has winners when in the US for the Breeders’ Cup – was my already mentioned editor Matt Bisogno, who runs the Geegeez syndicates. Their mare Coquelicot was an easy winner at Chepstow last week, adding a first jumps success to three including a Listed in bumpers. The only way is up, Matt!

Brilliant Knicks Go claims Breeders’ Cup Classic gold

Knicks Go made every yard of the running to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic for trainer Brad Cox and jockey Joel Rosario.

Cox saddled two leading contenders in the eventual winner and Essential Quality, with the latter being sent off favourite but he always looked further back than ideal and ended up finishing a creditable third.

Splitting the pair was Bob Baffert’s Medina Spirit.

Cox had repeatedly stated he could not split his two runners and there was not much between them ultimately, however, Knicks Go’s ability to control the tempo proved crucial.

Rosario was left to his own devices and for a horse with slight stamina doubts, he was able to just set steady fractions.

Hot Rod Charlie briefly looked a threat turning into the straight but he could never quite get on terms, while Medina Spirit and Essential Quality just stayed on for minor honours.

Knicks Go had finished only fourth behind Mishriff in the Saudi Cup in February, but that was a rare reverse since the five-year-old joined Cox at the beginning of last year.

Cox said: “I didn’t know what the tactics from the others would be, but what I do know is that speed is dangerous.

“The way he was doing it, he was able to clear off a touch down the back, and the way the others were bunched told me he wasn’t doing too much.

“He ran an incredible race at Prairie Meadows and it set us up for the Whitney. It was a best laid plan and it’s paid off.

“He’s built for American racing in the dirt and I’m hopeful he can pass that on because he has everything it takes to be a stallion. Tough and durable and extremely sound. I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished this year.

“Training horses is demanding – its like being a football coach, you need your horses to perform and it’s always back to work. But I have two boys that are involved and may train one day. We’re trying to set something up for them.

“We will enjoy this but it will definitely be back to work in the morning.”

Rosario said: “He was very quick, he broke very sharp and Brad told me to let him do his thing – he was very comfortable and enjoying it.

“I felt confident and when they went for me, I know how fast he is. Round the turn he just took off again.”

Medina Spirit was first past the post in the Kentucky Derby in May but subsequently tested positive for a banned substance, with an investigation still ongoing.

His jockey John Velazquez is in no doubt his mount ended the season as the best of his generation though.

“He proved without any doubt he’s the best three-year-old in America. There’s no doubt about it,” said Velazquez.

Delight for Murphy on Japan’s Marche Lorraine in Distaff

Oisin Murphy registered his first Breeders’ Cup winner as Japanese mare Marche Lorraine prevailed in a thrilling finish to the Distaff at Del Mar.

Having created history just a few hours earlier with Loves Only You in the Filly & Mare Turf, trainer Yoshito Yahagi doubled his and Japan’s tally at the meeting as Britain’s three-times champion jockey just got up by the tightest of margins.

With the local favourites all chasing a red-hot early tempo and fading even before the home turn, it was Dunbar Road and Marche Lorraine who fought out the finish.

As the pair crossed the line, a dead heat looked a real possibility but Murphy was overjoyed to learn his mount had edged it at the line.

“I wasn’t sure (if I’d won), it was very hard to tell in the shadows at this time of day,” said Murphy.

“This is a dream come true for me personally to win at the Breeders’ Cup, on dirt, on a Japanese horse. It’s the biggest stage in the world.

“Honestly did I think I could win? No, I didn’t, but Mr Yahagi has now had two winners today, Loves Only You and this one. That’s an unbelievable training performance.

“I try hard to get on the best horses I can around the world, I’m only 26 and these are the opportunities I crave.”

He added: “I didn’t know a whole lot about this filly. I rode a lot for Mr Yahagi in Japan, Dubai and Hong Kong and I tried to give her every chance.

“I sat out the back and was a hostage to fortune. I had enough speed to get a pitch. Maybe I moved a bit too early, but she was tough up the straight.”

Life Is Good blitzed his Del Mar rivals
Life Is Good blitzed his Del Mar rivals (Neil Morrice/PA)

Life Is Good posted an impressive all-the-way success in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

An early favourite for the Kentucky Derby before injury struck, he seized the initiative under Irad Ortiz, who was already on a high having won the Turf Sprint on Golden Pal, and the result was never in doubt.

Life Is Good ran out a near six-length winner and his trainer Todd Pletcher said: “We were anticipating an outstanding performance and it was extremely impressive. He’s one of those rare horses that can breeze and gallop at high speeds and then go faster.

“When you train a horse as good as this, you feel you are sitting on a big day.

“He has the ability to handle two turns going as straight as an arrow. I think our job now is to try to teach him how to ration out that speed and then learn to relax.”

Hot favourite Gamine could finish only third behind Ce Ce in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.

Winner of the race 12 months ago, Gamine had gone unbeaten leading into the race this season but she was not allowed to dictate matters this time and had nothing left to give as Ce Ce came with a late rattle under Victor Espinoza to provide trainer Michael McCarthy with a second Breeders’ Cup win.

McCarthy said: “It was almost too good to be true the way the pace stacked up and Victor has done a really great job keeping her away from those two fillies.

“When she got the heads up in the stretch and reached the quarter-pole I certainly got excited, and at the eighth it was over.”

Aloha West was another to get the best of a photo as he came from the clouds to give Jose Ortiz a second Breeders’ Cup winner of the weekend in the Sprint.

Dr Schivel appeared to have them all beaten with 100 yards to run but Aloha West, representing the same Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners who won the Queen Mary with Quick Suzy, got up in the final strides for Wayne Catalano.

Owner Aaron Wellman said: “Wayne has done such a fantastic job. He told me two months ago when he was second in the Phoenix that he would win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

“Wayne rode 3,000 winners as a jockey and has trained 2,000 and is for me a worthy Hall Of Famer.

“There’s no telling how good this horse could be.”

Yibir completes Breeders’ Cup hat-trick for Appleby and Buick

Yibir capped an incredible Breeders’ Cup for Charlie Appleby and William Buick when flying home late to pip Broome in the Turf.

Aidan O’Brien’s Broome, ridden by Irad Ortiz, looked to have put the race to bed with a decisive move turning into the short home straight, taking a couple of lengths out of the field.

Yibir had been settled at the rear by William Buick, who along with last year’s winner Tarnawa, had a posse of horses in front of him with just two furlongs to run.

But once Buick pulled the Great Voltiguer winner out into the home straight, Yibir hit his full stride and ran down Broome comfortably in the end.

Roger Varian’s Teona was not far back in third, with O’Brien’s Japan in fourth. Tarnawa found little in the finish and was well beaten.

Appleby and Buick won the Juvenile Turf with Modern Games on Friday and the Mile with Space Blues earlier on Saturday’s card.

Buick said: “Once I turned halfway down the back straight, I was in a better position. I followed Tarnawa but she was never going as well as I thought she would.

“It was the one race I didn’t know how to assess. Yibir is a complex character, as you saw last time he ran over here, I was just hoping he saved a bit for the finish.

“Halfway round the turn I could see Broome had gone, but my horse picked up in a way you rarely see. It was a great performance from a young, up and coming horse.”

Appleby said: “As you’ve seen he’s run some quite indifferent races this season, like at Goodwood, but then he ran well at York.

“The key was getting him to settle and Jamie Spencer did that at Belmont.

“It was a hard ride for William, he was taking him on but it all worked out.”

As well as saddling three winners, Appleby also had two withdrawn at the start over the course of the meeting and said: “It’s been a fantastic weekend, I can even take a couple home fresh!

“There were lots of emotions (on Friday) and I felt sorry for the crowd that winning tickets didn’t come off.

“I knew the right horse was left in the gate in Space Blues and Yibir was the icing on the cake – he’s been galloping with all our best middle-distance three-year-olds.

“Next year this horse brings experience to the table in middle-distance races. We won’t be taking anything to Hong Kong, they will all have well-earned vacations.”

O’Brien said of his three runners: “Broome ran a great race and we thought he was in good form. He was just a bit lazy in front, while Ryan (Moore on Japan) got chopped and Frankie (Dettori) said Bolshoi Ballet was too babyish.”

Varian was pleased with Teona’s effort and said: “David gave her a great ride.

“It’s not an ideal track for her, but she ran a race of real credit. She’s a lengthener and we had to angle out, and didn’t have the acceleration to put the race to bed.”

Tarnawa disappointed in her title defence
Tarnawa disappointed in her title defence (Niall Carson/PA)

Tarnawa was last seen when narrowly beaten in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp last month, going down by just three-quarters of a length in testing conditions.

Jockey Colin Keane felt that French outing may have left its mark as the mare came home 11th.

He said: “She ran flat. I think France last time on very soft ground took plenty out of her. She seemed fine after the race.”

Space Blues enjoys perfect swansong with Mile glory

Space Blues provided Charlie Appleby and William Buick with a second winner of the weekend as he bowed out with victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar.

Incredibly, after the drama before Friday’s Juvenile Turf which saw the Appleby-trained Albahr scratched after becoming upset in the stalls and stablemate Modern Games claim the prize, something similar happened again.

His 2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas reared and hit his head on the stalls and protocol in America meant that he was immediately backed out and withdrawn. Thankfully the horse appeared fine on jogging back and James Doyle escaped injury.

That meant Appleby was down to just one runner in Space Blues, the Prix de la Foret winner, who was stepping up in trip for the first time since 2019.

Once Buick was able to break well and sit in third through the first half of the race, everything else went to plan with the pace only steady.

As Space Blues again displayed a potent turn of foot which he has been showing off in Europe all year, he might not have been going away at the finish but it was the perfect way to end a prolific career.

Appleby said: “The leader set nice, sensible fractions and I knew that would play to his attributes and that he could use his gear change.

“He’s not a natural mile horse back at home, but over seven (furlongs) and now in a Grade One over a mile here, he’s shown himself to be a true champion.

“He’s been a great servant and I’m delighted he’s retired on the world’s biggest stage.”

Regarding the incident before the race, Appleby added: “I am pleased to say that Master Of The Seas and James are both all right. The horse jogged past me after being scratched and the rules are there to abide by.

“We’ve never had any issues with him before, but it just shows what happened now and yesterday what a big test it is for the horses on this stage.”

Buick said: “He’s a real pro, this horse. He’s been round the block and knows the game.

“I had a plan in my head how I thought it would work out and in fact it worked out a little better.

“The leader set reasonable fractions and I got the perfect trip. Today was all about getting the trip.”

Loves Only You creates Breeders’ Cup history for Japan

Loves Only You became the first ever Breeders’ Cup winner for Japan in the Filly & Mare Turf at Del Mar.

A Group One winner in Hong Kong and third in the Sheema Classic in Dubai, connections were further rewarded for their globetrotting when she showed a devastating turn of foot to go between War Like Goddess and My Sister Nat.

Trained by Yoshito Yahagi and ridden perfectly by Yuga Kawada, who had a brief spell in Britain in 2018, she looked beaten heading into the final furlong but found plenty for pressure.

Aidan O’Brien’s Love did not enjoy the best trip, being forced wide for most of the race while last year’s winner, the James Fanshawe-trained Audarya appeared to be full of running before the turn for home but struggled to find a clear route in the straight.

Love eventually finished fourth with Audarya behind in fifth.

Kawada, who came to Britain and rode winners at the likes of Redcar and Ripon through a link with Roger Varian, got the breaks when he needed them.

However, Audarya’s chance of joining Ouija Board as a dual winner of the race were ended on the home turn.

Jockey William Buick said: “I was boxed in all the way round the final bend into the straight.

“I rode her for luck, but it just didn’t happen.”

The winning trainer said: “We have made history today and our jockey rode her perfectly. We’ve had so many Breeders’ Cup challengers and what a great feeling it is to have finally achieved a win.

“After she ran at Sapporo (in August), we took her to a track that resembled a US turf course.

“The first time she travelled overseas she didn’t enjoy it, but every time since she has got stronger mentally. So after the QEII in Hong Kong, we decided to come here.

“We’ve been invited into the Hong Kong Cup in December, and she will stay her at Del Mar to prepare for that.”

Love could finish only fourth
Love could finish only fourth (David Davies/PA)

Jockey Ryan Moore felt Love had just fallen short, saying: “She ran well, just not good enough on the day.”

Ocean Road was sent off at big odds for trainer Hugo Palmer and jockey Oisin Murphy, who was more than satisfied with her sixth place.

He said: “(We) had a great run round and she’s put up a good performance.”

Palmer added: “She ran very well and is going to be a lovely filly for next year. I expect her to keep improving.”

Golden Pal makes all for Turf Sprint victory

Golden Pal backed up his win at last year’s Breeders’ Cup with a scintillating display in the Turf Sprint at Del Mar.

A big disappointment for Wesley Ward in the Nunthorpe at York in August, the 2020 Juvenile Turf Sprint hero had this race won after 100 yards.

Immediately into a clear advantage, only Lieutenant Dan could keep tabs on him, but even then it was only at a respectable distance throughout.

Last year’s winner Glass Slippers and her Kevin Ryan-trained stablemate Emaraaty Ana were where they wanted to be coming off the bend but could not make any headway and finished just out of the places, as did Prix de l’Abbaye winner A Case Of You, who made up plenty of ground late in the race.

Ward could not hide his confidence in the build up to the Nunthorpe but that day he was beaten a long way out, leaving his trainer unable to explain what happened.

Back on home soil, he burst out of the stalls like lightning, with Irad Ortiz pushing him into an early two-length lead.

While he was able to get a breather before the final effort in the short home straight, those in behind were not allowed that luxury and just as they may have felt they were closing in, Golden Pal shot further clear.

Emaraaty Ana stuck to his task well and finished fourth, best of the Europeans under Andrea Atzeni, who said: “Five furlongs is a bit sharp for him and it was his first run round a bend. I couldn’t keep up with them, but he ran right to the line.”

Ryan said of his duo: “Emaraaty Ana’s run great, they went as we expected and he came good turning in, but they kept going in front. He’s run his heart out.

“The winner has unbelievable speed from the gate and he galloped all the way to the line.

“Glass Slippers was flat out all the way and never got a chance to fill up. She’s been great and that’s it now, she’ll be off to the paddocks.”

Ward confirmed Royal Ascot is likely to be on the winner’s agenda next year.

“I would like to keep him in training and take him to Ascot for the King’s Stand,” he said.

“He’s so sound, and lightly raced. We could boost his stallion value by showing he can do what he does here over there.

“Breeding-wise he is open to either surface (turf or dirt).

“He’s got the title – he’s the best horse (I’ve ever trained).”

A Case Of You's connections will consider a Hong Kong run
A Case Of You’s connections will consider a Hong Kong run (PA)

Adrian McGuinness was more than satisfied with A Case Of You’s performance and another international target could now be on his agenda.

He said: “He ran a massive race and going past the line would have been placed with a bit further.

“He’s been invited for Hong Kong which is something we’ll discuss over the weekend and if he travels home well it’s something we’ll think about.”

Dramatic victory for Modern Games in Juvenile Turf

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.”

William Buick celebrates with Modern Games
William Buick celebrates with Modern Games (PA)

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.”

Corniche on top in Juvenile for Bob Baffert

Corniche ran out a ready winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile for Bob Baffert and Mike Smith.

Smith – winning his 27th Breeders’ Cup race – got the favourite over smartly from a wide draw and took the field along at a strong pace.

The challengers were queuing up, with the biggest threat being thrown down by Giant Game. But ultimately Corniche was too good, with Pappacap beating Giant Game for second.

It has been a trying time for Baffert, after his Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for an anti-inflammatory medication banned on racedays.

Although Baffert has fiercely protested his innocence, he is currently suspended by Churchill Downs, and as a result his horses are not allowed to accrue qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.

All horses trained by Baffert at this year’s Breeders’ Cup have had to undergo enhanced pre- and post-race testing.

Mike Smith celebrates with Corniche
Mike Smith celebrates with Corniche (PA)

The Hall of Fame handler said: “I felt for Chad (Brown, when he had to scratch Jack Christopher). You don’t want to see that, these races are really hard to win and there’s not a lot of margin for error.

“When I knew he had to come out of the 12 I called Mike Smith and he said ‘I can get it done’. Good horses find a way to win, and he’s so talented.

“The fractions were hot, but running for home you saw this horse’s mechanics, they are almost like American Pharoah’s with that long, loping stride.

“He’s a laid-back horse with a great mind, and I felt good coming down here with such a smart individual.”

He added: “I welcome everything, I want people to know Bob Baffert is a good trainer and takes care of his horses. I want to win, I want to win these races for the clients. We have a great team, a great staff.

“I keep focussed – don’t listen to the clutter and stay focussed. I have a huge support system, it’s been very good since I’ve been here in California. I’m just happy this horse ran so well.”

Having won the American Pharoah Stakes last time out, Corniche would now have 30 points towards the ‘Run for the Roses’.

Peter Fluor, of owners Speedway Stable LLC, told NBC Sports: “I’m thrilled for Bob, he’s done a great job with the horse. This is really big for us, and a great thrill. I’m very pleased for Bob, too.”

Asked what he would do with the winner, given the points situation, Flour said: “That’s a fair question, this race is so important for his career and what it would mean, as far as his two-year-old focus.

“So we wanted to get to this race and see how we did, and then Bob and I will sit down and talk. We’ll see what happens, we haven’t made any decisions.

“It would be difficult (to send to another trainer), but Bob and I have always talked, we’ve been very candid. I’ve visited with him and said we’ve got to do what’s right for the horse.”

Echo Zulu just sensational in Juvenile Fillies

Echo Zulu looked every inch a superstar in the making with a sensational performance in the Netjets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Del Mar.

The unbeaten Steve Asmussen-trained youngster was taken straight to the front by Joel Rosario, and always looked to be moving well within herself.

Juju’s Map and Tarabi briefly loomed up in her slipstream – but as soon as Rosario let the daughter of Gun Runner stride on the race was quickly over as a contest.

The further she went, the better she looked and her rider was able to look behind him and see only daylight.

Asmussen said: “She’s a very special filly and this means so much to us. That she’s from the first crop of Gun Runner makes it surreal that we are back here four years on from his Classic success.

“She has just done everything right. She is a true champion.”

He added: “She’s done just like she did in the Spinaway and it will be geared towards the Kentucky Oaks next year. To compare her against horses of her age is hard to do because right now she’s an extremely rare commodity.

“When she broke her maiden and broke a 92 Beyer at Saratoga, she ticked all the boxes. We definitely appreciate the results and I would expect to take stock of future plans after she ships back to Kentucky on Wednesday.”

Jose Ortiz gave Pizza Bianca a sublime ride to win the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Three wide and last at one stage, Ortiz slalomed through the field and his mount flew once in the clear to swamp George Boughey’s long-time leader Cachet, who was third to Inspiral in the Fillies’ Mile on her previous start.

Owned and bred by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, the winner was giving trainer Christophe Clement his first ever Breeders’ Cup triumph.

Flay said: “I’m a chef and the dam’s name is White Hot so I moulded that into the naming of her. I’m the owner-breeder and my favourite thing to do is go in with the matings and breed.

“The dam never ran, but had a great pedigree and I kept her knowing that the blood would show up eventually.

“She was last round the far turn and I thought she wasn’t liking the firm ground, but all of a sudden it was insane. How many bobs and weaves did Jose take?”

He added: “Christophe is a very deserving trainer, he’s so great at what he does and pays attention to every detail. He eats and sleeps his horses, and for him to have a first Breeders’ Cup winner is so incredibly deserved.

“I’m a dreamer, and believe that when they are good these horses can take you all over the world, so maybe Ascot where I’ve had a second before.”

Clement said: “This is the first (victory) at the Breeders Cup for me and I feel elated. We have been waiting for this for so long.”

Cachet was fourth in the end, and Boughey said: “I thought for a moment we were going to win it. Luis (Saez) gave her a fine ride and I would like to thank all those who have travelled her and done such a great job. She’s bred to be better at three, which makes it all very exciting.

“It was a huge run, she’s proved she’s a global Group One filly. It’s great. It’s a huge honour to be be out here, we’re delighted.”

Ridden by Ryan Moore, Malavath was an excellent second for French trainer Francis-Henri Graffard, who said: “It’s amazing because Ryan said we needed to race on the inner and she missed the break, but during the race she just kept progressing as the gaps opened.

“She’s a very progressive filly and it’s a dream. She’s very talented and she stays a mile, but I think she’s a good ground filly.”

Hello You was another to perform well for David Loughnane, after the runner-up effort of Go Bears Go in the Juvenile Turf Sprint. Never far off the pace, she kept on well for fifth place.

Twilight Gleaming denies Go Bears Go in Juvenile Turf Sprint

Go Bears Go ran a huge race in second as Twilight Gleaming made all for Wesley Ward in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar.

Second in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot to Quick Suzy – who was due to run in California, but missed out when spiking a temperature at the start of the week – Twilight Gleaming shot from the stalls under Irad Ortiz Jr.

One Timer kept her company for some of the way, and the Michael O’Callaghan-trained Twilight Jet was close on their heels.

But as the winner powered on, David Loughnane’s Railway Stakes victor Go Bears Go made relentless progress under John Velazquez and was closing all the way – just finding the line coming a few strides too soon.

Hugo Palmer’s Hierarchy was another European raider to come home well, in the hands of Oisin Murphy.

Twilight Gleaming’s stablemate Kaufymaker was third, but Ward’s favourite Averly Jane could never really get on terms.

Ward – winning the race for the third year in a row – said: “I’m lucky to train so many fast horses this year. But there are some really good prospects coming through for next year. When you have the athletes on your side it makes everything so special.

“I will see how she progresses and I imagine either the King’s Stand or the Commonwealth Cup will be on her agenda next season.

“We start them early, and moving forward I knew she was fast. She won at Belmont on the grass and finished second in the Queen Mary. Then we knew we had something special.

“When she won in France (after Royal Ascot) we brought her back a gave her a good break. When she came back into training she got better and better.”

John Velazquez with connections of Go Bears Go
John Velazquez with connections of Go Bears Go (PA)

A proud Loughnane said of Go Bears Go: “He’s a superstar and has taken me to new heights. He’s a life-changing horse.

“I thought the distance might be too sharp, but that wasn’t it. He just missed a stride at the gate and Johnny thought it cost him the race. He’s never done that before, but on this stage you can’t get away with it.

“Out here the races are won in the first furlong, whereas we go quickest in the last.”

Cox pair may hold key to Classic

Brad Cox is likely to need his eyes in more than one place when the stalls open for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar.

Cox sent out a record-equalling four winners at the meeting last year – with his Classic pair doing their bit, as Knicks Go took the Dirt Mile and Essential Quality the Juvenile.

Tactics for Knicks Go will be no secret on Saturday, because he will go from the front. Quite how far Essential Quality sits off the pace will depend on how fast his stablemate goes – and that could be very quick, because front-running Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit is in the field, not to mention Hot Rod Charlie.

Cox said: “They’re not going to get in each other’s way, which is good for me!

“There’s some other speed in the race (apart from Knicks Go), just looking at the other horses. (But) I think he is the speed of the speed, and we’re not going to take that away from him. We’re going to ask him to run out of there and establish a position early, and what anyone else does is up to them.

“But we are going to be very aggressive, hopefully he gets the lead going into the first turn and he’s able to clear off. I think that gives him his best opportunity to win.”

On the pace in the race, and whether Knicks Go will be hassled by Medina Spirit, Cox said: “If they’re head and head and going 46 (seconds, for the first half-mile), up there going that fast that early, there’s a possibility that one or both of them could back up and that could play to Essential Quality.

“The one thing about him is he’s shown his ability to adapt to pace – if it’s hot he can sit off and come running, and if it’s a soft pace he can sit close. It’s probably not going to be a soft pace, so we’re thinking they’re probably going to get away from him in the early part and he’ll be running around the turn and down the lane.”

Cox is rightly proud of both of his contenders, who will be very difficult to keep out of the Horse of the Year picture should either be triumphant.

He said: “Obviously they both performed well in the last quarter of 2020, and it’s been a great year. Both horses have stayed in good form for the most part.

“Knicks Go, I felt like we may have rushed him a little bit after the Pegasus (World Cup), shipping him to the other side of the world for the Saudi Cup and then the Met Mile, but aside from those two bumps in the road he’s been ultra consistent – and we’re proud of what he’s accomplished.

“Essential Quality has never missed a beat. He ran a big race in the Derby, the only defeat of his career, and you could argue he ran one of the better races that day (having raced wide and covering more ground than virtually the whole field). Both horses have had great years.”

A Grade One winner in his juvenile days, Knicks Go rediscovered himself when joining the Cox barn as a four-year-old.

His trainer said: “I don’t know if it’s anything we did in regards to training him, I think he’s just developed. We got him, and he’d come off a little bit of a freshening – he was a happy, sound horse, and we were able to win a second level allowance and then he had a setback. He had an injury, and they talked about retiring him – but breeding season had already started, and it was going to be no good retiring him at the point.

“So we brought him back, and if he hadn’t been doing well we were going to retire him, but he was training better than ever. He’s been a good horse from the beginning – his Grade One win at two was not a fluke, and he followed it up with a big race at the Breeders’ Cup. I think what he did was he was able to catch his breath, get a breather and develop. Horses are supposed to get faster at four and five, and he was a really fast two-year-old.

“I think he’s just developed – I don’t know if it was any one thing we did with him. We don’t really train him any different than we do our other horses – he’s able to take more training and breeze faster and work faster, because he’s better than a lot of them. We allow him to really stretch his legs and do what he likes to do – he likes to train.

“He’s always been a very good horse, he’s just developed with time as an older horse. Lots of times when horses go from two to three, or three to four, and there’s an improvement there’s normally a gap – they don’t all of a sudden get better.

“It allows the horse to mature and recover from the rigours of training and racing, and they come back and their body catches up physically and they move forward.

“It was an amazing achievement for him to be able to win the Dirt Mile, running as fast as he did, and I think if he wins the Classic he’d be up close or on the lead and run some solid fractions the first part and finish up well. We’ll see how it goes, but it would definitely go down as one of the best accomplishments at the Breeders’ Cup.”

Third in the Kentucky Derby and just behind Essential Quality in the Belmont Stakes, Hot Rod Charlie has answered every call for Doug O’Neill.

“He’s very versatile – the race looks very competitive, and there’s a lot of speed signed up in there,” said O’Neill.

“That being said, I love the continuity of having Flavien Prat back on him and having the versatility in being able to come from off it if the pace is too hot and we’re not able to make the lead, or go and go – we’ve got options.

“There’d be nothing better than winning the Classic and being in that (Horse of the Year) conversation. I’m just very proud of him.”

Weld anticipating a tough task as Tarnawa chases Breeders’ Cup double

Dermot Weld is under no illusions about the task facing Tarnawa as she bids to become only the third back-to-back winner of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.

The Rosewell House handler is no stranger to international success, making his mark Stateside when becoming the first European to win a Triple Crown race with Go And Go in the 1990 Belmont Stakes.

Weld also has two Melbourne Cups and a whole host of other races on the world stage on his illustrious CV, but a Breeders’ Cup win had eluded him until Tarnawa’s brilliant display under Colin Keane at Keeneland 12 months ago.

The trainer himself did not make the trip to Kentucky due to coronavirus restrictions, but nevertheless enjoyed the success from his home in County Kildare.

“It was a special occasion. My son Mark was there, and I watched the race with my wife Mary and my second son Kris,” said Weld, who has travelled to California this year.

“We were expecting a good run, but winning was an extra bonus. It was exciting – it was late in the evening, and we enjoyed it immensely.

“I’ve always enjoyed the challenge (of travelling horses) – in the early days, I probably was one of the first to travel horses across the world. We won the first international race run in Hong Kong and then we were very fortunate and won two Melbourne Cups.”

Tarnawa was completing a top-level hat-trick at Keeneland last season, following a pair of Group One triumphs at ParisLongchamp.

Dermot Weld at Del Mar
Dermot Weld at Del Mar (PA)

A year on, the daughter of Shamardal will defend her crown after successive defeats – although she has lost little in finishing second in both the Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, just being denied by Torquator Tasso in the latter.

Weld added: “She’s a very brave filly, very tough and genuine and she gives 110 per cent every time she runs. She was tired for a week after Paris, so we let her have a nice easy time and freshened her up.

“A win in the Arc would have been special. She fought like a lioness, and unfortunately we just came up short.

“I don’t think the ground beat us in the Arc. She ran a superb race. I just think she had very little room to manoeuvre – and a very, very good horse beat us on the day. But he got a clearer run on the outside than we did.

“I think she’s equally good (as last season). I actually think she could be a slightly better mare this year – she’s developed every year and is training a couple of kilos heavier than last year.”

Tarnawa will start from stall 11 as she tries to follow in the hoofprints of previous dual winners High Chaparral and Conduit, with Weld admitting the prospect of a very fast surface is a worry.

He said: “I’m well aware what (ground) we are going to face is going to be a lot quicker (than last year), and it is a concern.

“I think it’s what makes a really true champion – if they can defend their crown on different surfaces a year apart.

“It will be a big challenge – a bigger challenge than last year, I believe. But equally she is a really, really good racemare that responds to every challenge she gets.

“She’s a very professional racehorse with a wonderful constitution, and that’s what enables me to travel her to different countries – her strong mental attitude and great constitution.

“I actually think luck in running will decide this race – if Colin can manoeuvre from where he’s drawn, that will be our biggest challenge.

“We’ve just got to get lucky, get the breaks and things go her way.”

Tarnawa leads a European challenge that also includes Roger Varian’s Teona, who missed the Arc on account of the testing conditions in Paris.

As a result, the daughter of Sea The Stars – who is drawn in stall 10 – will be making her first competitive appearance since inflicting a shock defeat on Snowfall in September’s Prix Vermeille.

“Her races didn’t go to plan earlier in the year,” said Varian.

“She ran in heavy ground and had traffic problems, but we left her alone – and she’s come back very strongly.

“She’s in great form and comes out here peaking at this time of year – she didn’t have a busy summer. She’s a fresh filly – she hasn’t run since the Vermeille and proved herself to be a very good filly there.

“It’s all a bit of an unknown quantity after they hit the gates, but the good thing about her is she’s a natural athlete and she travels. She’s capable of staying on the bridle, and that counts for a lot.

“The Turf is obviously a very strong race, but I think she is fully deserving of her place and we’re looking forward to it. Hopefully she can get a good position, and we’ll take it from there.”

Japan will bid to provide Aidan O'Brien with another Turf success
Japan will bid to provide Aidan O’Brien with another Turf success (Nigel French/PA)

Aidan O’Brien has won the Turf on a record six occasions, with High Chaparral’s successive wins followed by victories for St Nicholas Abbey, Magician, Found and Highland Reel.

The Ballydoyle handler declared four for this year’s renewal, with Japan and Broome making the initial cut and first reserve Bolshoi Ballet getting a run after the well-fancied Domestic Spending was withdrawn. Mogul remains on the reserve list.

Japan’s last two starts have been in America, with a runner-up effort in the Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga followed by a sixth-placed finish in Belmont’s Turf Classic.

O’Brien said: “We’re delighted with him. His last two runs were very good, and he just got chopped off in his last two races.

“He’s very well, and we’re very happy with him and we’d be looking forward to seeing him run.

Broome is also in the mix
Broome is also in the mix (Nigel French/PA)

“Broome won his Group One in France and has been very consistent really through the season.

“He needs to break well, because we would be very happy to lead.

“The thing about Bolshoi Ballet is he’s got plenty of experience out here.”

Charlie Appleby also saddles two runners who have experience of North American racing, with Jockey Club Derby victor Yibir joined by Canadian International-winning stablemate Walton Street.

“Walton Street is at the grand age of seven now and he’s one of the yard favourites,” said the Moulton Paddocks handler.

“He put up a good performance in Germany on his first start after a break, finishing just behind the eventual Arc winner Torquator Tasso, and then put up a dominant performance in Canada.

“He deserves to be there; he might not be good enough to win it, but he won’t look out of place.

“Yibir started the season running in Classic trials and running well, but not running the most straightforward races you’d like to see.

“He was gelded before the summer and won the Bahrain Trophy. He then disappointed us again at Goodwood, so we changed our tactics and and left the hood on at York, where he won the Great Voltigeur.

“The plan after that was always to head to New York for the Jockey Club Derby, and he won it well.

“That was a ‘Win and You’re In’ race to the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He goes there as one of the youngsters – but if he brings his A game, he’s going to be very competitive.”

Blues bids for victorious swansong in Breeders’ Cup Mile

Space Blues bids to add his name to an illustrious list of European-trained winners of the Breeders’ Cup Mile when he leads a two-pronged attack from Charlie Appleby on the Del Mar showpiece.

The Prix de la Foret victor is joined by stablemate Master Of The Seas, who was runner-up to Poetic Flare in the 2000 Guineas but has been restricted to just two outings since that effort on the Rowley Mile.

Having won his maiden over a mile as a two-year-old, Saturday’s distance is not quite an unknown for Space Blues – but he has not run over it since his third career start, and has made his name as a crack six and seven-furlong performer.

Appleby said: “We’ve been delighted with his last two starts when winning both the (City Of) York Stakes and then the Foret. This will be the last run of his career; I’d imagine we’ll be retiring him after this. He’s done us proud.

“I feel a sharp mile round Del Mar will suit him. As we’ve all seen, he’s a great traveller. It’ll be quicker ground than he’s run on in his last two starts, but it doesn’t worry me becaue he won in Saudi Arabia on quick ground, and at Deauville. He’s a very versatile horse.

“He’ll travel for fun around there – and if the gaps appear he’s got the acceleration.”

Master Of The Seas returned to action with a creditable third place in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket in September, before finishing seventh in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot – where the ground was not in his favour.

With William Buick aboard Space Blues, James Doyle takes the mount on Master Of The Seas.

Appleby said: “We probably saw him at his best when he was just touched off in the Guineas on quick ground. He won the Craven Stakes before that Guineas second, then met with a setback.

“I was delighted with his comeback run in the Joel Stakes. He’s most definitely come forward from it fitness-wise. On Champions Day the ground was just too soft for him. I was keen, though, to get another run into him because he’d missed a large chunk of the summer.

“He’s come out of that race well, and I think back at a mile on quick ground will suit him.”

Aidan O’Brien won the race for the first time last year, when Order Of Australia led home a one-two-three for Ballydoyle.

His representative this time is 1000 Guineas heroine Mother Earth, a filly who has barely put a foot wrong but has not always enjoyed the best of luck – as witnessed by the trouble in running she suffered in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.

Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the 1000 Guineas with Mother Earth
Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the 1000 Guineas with Mother Earth (Mike Egerton/PA)

O’Brien said: “She’s been unlucky probably her last twice. The horses who beat her at Leopardstown she beat four or five lengths the next time, but when that happens (trouble in running) you lose Group Ones – and you never like that.

“I thought her last run at Ascot (fifth in the QEII) could be her best, because she clocked the final two furlongs better than any other horse’s time in the race.

“She seems well so far, and we’re looking forward to seeing her run. If there is a decent pace, she will run well.”

O’Brien added of the Breeders’ Cup in general: “It’s a special event at the end of our season. It’s great that the horses can come together and be compared across the world, at various distances and ages.

“It’s great prize-money; the racing is competitive, and everybody is looked after very well. I think at this time of year it’s where everybody likes to be with a horse good enough to compete in those championship races.”

The Paddy Twomey-trained Pearls Galore is another contender for Europe with strong credentials, after finishing second in the Matron and occupying the same spot in the Foret.

Dangers abound among the home squad, notably Mo Forza (Peter Miller/Flavien Prat), Smooth Like Strait (Mike McCarthy/Umberto Rispoli) and In Love (Paulo Lobo/Alexis Achard).

Of Smooth Like Strait, Rispoli said in his blog for XB Net: “Although his front-running style will always leave him potentially vulnerable to a fast finisher, a win in this super competitive heat will make up for a season where he’s only been a whisker shy of greatness.

“His work sectionals have been sharp, and this race has been the plan all year. Hopefully, we can pull it off together from the front end. It will take a Herculean effort against the likes of Space Blues and In Love, but I couldn’t ask for a more willing or talented partner.”