If you’re a Southern California horse racing fan you have to be smiling tonight after Oak Tree at Santa Anita hosted one of the best Breeders’ Cups ever.
In my racing column that ran Friday, Oct. 17, I predicted that this would be a tremendous two-day event, and it was all that and possibly more.
Raven’s Pass, a 13-1 long shot trained by John Gosden, recorded a 1 3/4-length victory in today’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita as reigning Horse of the Year and 4-5 favorite Curlin came home fourth. The victory capped a big day for the Euros, who won five of today’s nine races and finished 1-2 in the Classic for the first time ever. Henrythenavigator finished second and Tiago was third. The victory was the second on the day for both Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori.
The Irish-bred Conduit, sent postward at 5-1, closed like a freight train in the last eighth of a mile to win the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf by 1 1/2 lengths over Eagle Mountain. Ridden by Ryan Moore, Conduit ran the 1 1/2 miles in 2:23.42 and gave the Europeans their fourth win of the day with three seconds. Dancing Forever finished third.
Garrett Gomez continued his winning ways, taking his fourth Breeders’ Cup race of the weekend and becoming the first jockey to win three in one day when he guided Midnight Lute to a second consecutive victory in the $2 million Sprint. Midnight Lute’s win, a 1 3/4-length score over Fatal Bullet, was every bit as impressive as his 4 3/4-length romp in the slop last year at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Sent postward as the second choice at 5-2, Midnight Lute scored his sixth victory in 13 races and his third in four tries at the six-furlong Sprint distance. Street Boss, the 2-1 favorite, also closed well but had to settle for third best, 1 3/4 lengths behind the runner-up.
Donativum, bred in Great Britain, and the Irish-bred Westphalia finished 1-2 in today’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita. It appeared midway through the stretch that Coronet of a Baron and jockey Alan Garcia were going to win at 6-1, but first Westphalia came charging to take the lead and then Donativum, trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori, accelerated quickest of all in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by a half-length at odds of 5-1. Westphalia took second by 1 3/4 lengths over Coronet of a Baron.
Eclipse Award-winning rider Garrett Gomez became the first jockey to win three Breeders’ Cup races in one year today when he guided the Bob Baffert-trained Midshipman, a 7-2 shot, to a 1 1/4-length victory in the $2 million Juvenile at Santa Anita. Midshipman took the lead approaching the far turn and held off late challenges by runner-up Square Eddie and Street Hero, the Norfolk Stakes winner who finished third. Gomez rode Ventura to victory in Friday’s Filly and Mare Sprint and won his first race today aboard Albertus Maximus in the Dirt Mile. It was Baffert’s second Juvenile winner. He also saddled Vindication for a victory in 2002 at Arlington Park outside Chicago.
The impressive 3-year-old filly Goldikova became the fifth distaffer to win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile, beating defending champion Kip Deville by 1 1/4 lengths. The 9-5 betting favorite, who came in having won three consecutive graded stakes, including two Grade I’s, lacked racing room at the head of the stretch but found a hole and accelerated impressively to win going away under regular jockey Olivier Peslier. Goldikova has now won 6 of 9 overall, with two seconds and a third. The Irish-bred daughter of Anabaa joins Six Perfections (2003), Ridgewood Pearl (1995), Miesque (1987-88) and Royal Heroine (1984) as the only female horses to win the Mile in its 25 runnings. Whatsthescript finished third.
Garrett Gomez scored his second victory of Breeders’ Cup XXV today at Santa Anita, guiding 6-1 shot Albertus Maximus to a 1 1/4-length victory in the $1 million Dirt Mile. Gomez, who won the Filly and Mare Sprint on Friday aboard Ventura, came charging in the stretch to overtake the leaders and held off a closing rally by runner-up Rebellion. Pacesetter Two Step Salsa took third. Gomez has many other live horses today, including Whatsthescript (Mile), Midshipman (Juvenile), Midnight Lute (Sprint), Out of Control (Turf) and Go Between (Classic) as he attempts to become the first rider to win three Breeders’ Cup races in one year.
The prices on the second day of Breeders’ Cup XXV continued as Richard Migliore rode 36-1 long shot Desert Code to a come-from-behind victory in the $1 million Turf Sprint at Santa Anita. Desert Code had won three of six over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course and was 3 for 5 over the course going in, yet he was 30-1 on the morning line and was bet slightly higher. It was the third Breeders’ Cup win for trainer David Hofmans, and all have paid $40 or more. Alphabet Soup won the Classic at 19-1 in 1996 and Adoration went postward at 40-1 in the 2003 Distaff.
Muhannak, who went postward at a more than generous 12-1, prevailed by a head in the inaugural $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon today over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride synthetic main track. Muhannak, bet down from his morning-line price of 20-1, had won 4 of 7 on synthetics in Ireland and Great Britain and was 1 of 2 at the 1 1/2-mile distance. Difficult to fathom why the 4-year-old gelded son of Chester House went off at double-digit odds. The 7-5 post-time favorite, Sixties Icon, had never run 1 1/2 miles and has been a turf specialist for the first 16 races of his career. Trainer Mike Mitchell saddled the place and show horses, Church Service and Big Booster.