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For the first-time in the history of the Breeders’ Cup Del Mar racetrack played host to the World Championships.
Title of king over the two-day met as always goes the way of the Classic winner, and 2017 saw gutsy prominent-racer GUN RUNNER crowned. In what was a near wire-to-wire performance under Florent Geroux, the son of Candy Ride saw off the Bob Baffert pair of Collected and West Coast for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Another Baffert trainee, the one-upon-a-time peerless Arrogate was sent off 2/1f with British bookmakers but could never land a blow having been slowly away and finished a well-held fifth, ending his career on a low.
As to be expected, the European challenge on dirt failed in the Classic. the Aidan O’Brien pair of Churchill (7th) and War Decree (9th) were never really sighted, but the Turf has always been a much kinder race to the raiders historically, and that continued when André Fabre’s flashy TALISMANIC made it eight Turfs in ten years for the Euro challenge.
Under a fine ground-saving ride from Mickael Barzalona, the four-year-old was produced late to fend off home contender Beach Patrol, with the year’s previous winner Highland Reel third looking below his best having not been made enough use of.
The Mile, on turf, is another race the Euros take strong aim at each year. In no small thanks to the legendary three-time winner Goldikova (2008-10), Europe are four for ten in the race over the last decade, but of late, the home team have dominated.
That trend continued when the strapping grey WORLD APPROVAL comfortably fended off Aidan O’Brien’s Lancaster Bomber. Winning trainer Mark Casse made it two Mile’s in three years with the John Velazquez-ridden gelding, two seasons on since the mighty Tepin won at Keeneland.
That success would see Hall-Of-Famer Velazquez register a double at the two-day meeting after he guided the Dallas Stewart-trained FOREVER UNBRIDLED to victory in the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff the previous evening. The pair would see off the fast-finishing Abel Tasman.
“Big Money” Mike Smith may have been frustrated to finish second in the Distaff, but those similar waiting tactics paid dividends the following night when CALEDONIA ROAD caused a 20/1 shock in the Juvenile Fillies for trainer Ralph E Nicks. The trainer was recording his first ever Breeders’ Cup win and did it with the Breeders’ Cup most successful ever jockey.
While there was a shock in the Juvenile Fillies, not even that result could prepare us for the following two races, the Turf Sprint and Filly & Mare Sprint. In the former race, trainer Peter Miller pulled off a remarkable one-two which was lead home by a 40/1 shot, Joel Rosario-ridden STORMY LIBERAL. Only a head separated the winner from his stablemate, the 25/1 shot Richard's Boy. It was also a great one-two for owners Rockingham Ranch.
The Filly & Mare Sprint saw an even bigger surprise winner when BAR OF GOLD went in at 66/1 under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. This saw another trainer register his first Breeders’ Cup success, this time John Kimmel creating history.
While the aforementioned sprint contests produced shock results, 9/2 winner ROY H brought a sense of calm to the evening’s sprinting procedures until post-race in-play video was played back to the viewing public. Calm his winning trainer Peter Miler wasn’t however, as he roared “Go get it, Roy!” nearly the entire length of the stretch as Kent Desormeaux was producing his mount to win. It was a huge Breeders’ Cup double for Miller, following on from Stormy Liberal just two hours earlier.
After RUSHING FALL won the opening Breeders’ Cup race, the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and Good Magic took out the Juvenile the following night, Chad Brown was another trainer to record a Breeders’ Cup double.
Javier Castellano got the job done aboard Rushing Fall on turf while it was Jose Ortiz who did the steering on the dirt winner. An impressive mixed-surface achievement from Brown.
MENDELSSOHN taking out the Juvenile Turf on the opening evening meant Aidan O’Brien has trained at least one winner at the big meeting for the last three seasons running. The imposing son of Scat Daddy, a full-brother to the year’s previous Distaff winner Beholder, was a taking winner under Ryan Moore.
While O’Brien got Team Europe off the mark in 2017, and André Fabre tailed it with Talismanic, Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby would sandwich those victories for Europe and continue to show the world of his capabilities when WUHEIDA claimed the Filly And Mare Turf. She was part of a treble the raiding party.
Dirt Mile winner BATTLE OF MIDWAY was another to add to the list of winners at big odds. Flavien Prat would get the job done aboard Jerry Hollendorfer’s 18/1 shot on the opening night.
Breeders' Cup 2017 Roll of Honour
|Classic||Gun Runner||4||Florent Geroux||Steven Asmussen||US|
|Turf||Talismanic||4||Mickael Barzalona||Andre Fabre||FRA|
|Juvenile||Good Magic||2||Jose Ortiz||Chad Brown||US|
|Mile||World Approval||5||John Velazquez||Mark Casse||US|
|Sprint||Roy H||5||Kent Desormeaux||Peter Miller||US|
|Filly And Mare Turf||Wuheida||3||William Buick||Charlie Appleby||GB|
|Filly And Mare Sprint||Bar Of Gold||5||Irad Ortiz Jr||John C Kimmel||US|
|Turf Sprint||Stormy Liberal||5||Joel Rosario||Peter Miller||US|
|Juvenile Fillies||Caledonia Road||2||Mike Smith||Ralph E Nicks||US|
|Distaff||Forever Unbridled||5||John Velazquez||Dallas Stewart||US|
|Juvenile Turf||Mendelssohn||2||Ryan Moore||Aidan O'Brien||IRE|
|Dirt Mile||Battle Of Midway||3||Flavien Prat||Jerry Hollendorfer||US|
|Juvenile Fillies Turf||Rushing Fall||2||Javier Castellano||Chad Brown||US|