Glass Slippers gave Europe a first ever victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint when striking for North Yorkshire trainer Kevin Ryan at Keeneland.
Winner of the Prix de l’Abbaye in 2019 and just touched off from a poor draw in last month’s renewal, the four-year-old filly showed just how much she thrives in the latter part of the campaign with a dramatic success.
Glass Slippers – who landed the Flying Five at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend – was not the best out of the gates and Tom Eaves was happy to place her towards the rear of the field, but near the rail.
Up front, Bombard and Into Mystic shared the early pace with Wildman Jack, Texas Wedge and Leinster joining in as the runners approached the top of the stretch.
At that point, Eaves started to make his move on Glass Slippers, who was helped when a gap appeared as the early trail-blazers started to go back.
Glass Slippers responded in game fashion and galloped on strongly all the way to the line, scoring by half a length from Wet Your Whistle with Leinster third.
Ryan – having just his second Breeders’ Cup runner – said: “It’s been a funny year for us in the UK, and with this filly you have to plan her races out as she is a filly who improves as the year goes on.
“We knew she goes round a bend very well, as she had won at Chester, and Tom had a word with Ryan Moore who told him to take his time and opt for the shortest route. Being over five and a half furlongs that extra half a furlong was massive.
“She has always been a good traveller and thrives wherever she goes, although she had not been this far, but through the week as she was drinking and eating well we got happier with every passing day.
“It’s great that she will be back for another season next year and if things go to plan I would love to come back to run in this race at Del Mar.”
Ryan’s only other Breeders’ Cup runner, East, was second to Newspaperofrecord in the Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2018.
“This is what we do the job for and I’m very lucky to have had some very good horse,” he went on.
“I wasn’t able to attend my first Breeders’ Cup, but it’s great to come out here and this filly is very special.”
Delighted owner Terry Holdcroft said: “I’ve been breeding horses for over 40 years and she is the best I’ve ever bred.
“It’s lovely that we kept her and didn’t sell her. Kevin has put an incredible amount of time and detail into training the filly.
“We had a programme at the start of the year and we didn’t budge from it. We won a qualifying Group One in Ireland and only just missed out on the Abbaye and one of the reasons to keep her in training is that things might change – we haven’t been able to go racing at home and it was such a great opportunity to be able to come here and watch her run.”
Eaves said: “Kevin knows this horse like the back of his hand and he told me he couldn’t have been happier with her. I didn’t chase the pace and waited and rode my luck. There was a lovely gap for us rounding the turn.
“This is a day I will never forget.”
Monomoy Girl justified her short price when winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff for a second time.
The five-year-old took the prize in 2018 but was restricted to only three starts in the interim, winning them all.
Brad Cox’s mare showed she was as good as ever when overcoming a wide berth to regain her crown and give her trainer a fourth Breeders’ Cup win of the weekend.
Her main rival Swiss Skydiver ruined her chance when she stumbled leaving the stalls, though the Preakness winner did her best to get into the race on the turn for home.
However, she could not maintain her challenge and weakened in the straight as Monomoy Girl and Florent Geroux lifted the prize from Valiance and Dunbar Road.
It was also redemption for Geroux as he had been unshipped from Starship Jubilee on leaving the stalls in the Filly Mare & Turf.
Cox said: “She is a champion. I’m very proud of her and I thought she was better than she had ever been coming into this and she proved that was her trip.
“It was a very fast time on a fast racetrack. She’s just a tremendous filly. I thought we were in a good spot at the eighth pole and Florent did a fantastic job.
“I’m very fortunate to be part of her – I think we’ve seen greatness.”
Monomoy Girl is due to go to the sales, but asked if that decision might be reversed, co-owned Sol Kumin said: “We will go out and enjoy tonight, get on the phone and put up a game plan and figure it all out, but ultimately it will be concentrating on what is best for her.”
Fellow co-owner Stewart Grant said: “Considering that she had some training issues, most people would have packed it in and sold her, but we love to race and with a very special team headed by Brad we were able to put her together again.
“Her career speaks for itself, with all the Grade One wins, two Breeders’ Cups and an Eclipse award.”
As for Swiss Skydiver, trainer Kenny McPeek said: “She stumbled at the start and Robby (Albarado) said after she left a little awkward that he kind of got stuck down inside and she was struggling down in there.
“But Monomoy Girl is a great filly, she’s deserves all the fame status.
“We’ll regroup and get a programme together for next year and come back at them again.”
He added: “There’s a very good chance (be back as a four-year-old). I’m a little worried about her finish, that’s uncharacteristic of her but we’ll go over her thoroughly and see what we’ve got.
“I think physically she’s probably fine but it wasn’t her day.”