Breeders Cup Day 1: The Sweet Life
Posted by Brian Appleton on November 7, 2009
From dead last coming into the last turn, Life is Sweet came flying into the history books and out of Zenyatta’s shadow with a powerful come-from-
behind victory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic. Against a stellar field that included last year’s third place finisher Music Note, three year old sensation Carless Jewel and European Rainbow View, Life is Sweet proved she is capable of running with the best the world has to offer, or should I say proved she can run away from the best.
With jockey Garret Gomez aboard for the eighth consecutive time, Life is Sweet settled comfortably at the back of the pack after taking a “halfway hop” as Gomez said, breaking from the gate. Careless Jewel shot straight to the lead, appearing somewhat rank, and opened up nine lengths on the field in the backstretch. After setting fractions of :23.50 for the opening quarter mile, :45.78 for the half mile and 1:09.74 for the six furlongs, Careless Jewel was spent and quickly began to fade while the entire field closed rapidly on her position around the far turn. Coming into the homestretch it seemed wide open to all but Careless Jewel who was inhaled around the turn and wound up finishing last of eight. While Life is Sweet began flying up from the rear, Music Note, Cocoa Beach and Mushka all seemed ready to seize the lead with good positions at the head of the pack. Mushka got there first and seemed home free until the speeding Life is Sweet passed her in mid-stretch and waltzed home to a 2 ½ length victory.
I had initially chosen Careless Jewel as my winner for the Ladies Classic but immediately changed my mind when I saw Life is Sweet in the paddock and warming up on the track. I have chosen her all three times she has run against Zenyatta this year just because I love her grit and consistency, so I decided not to jump ship so late in the game and was thrilled to have my faith in her rewarded with such a compelling performance. I was shouting her down the stretch when I caught sight of her closing from the back and gave a whoop of joy when she crossed the line in front. Then I inadvertently yelled, “Sweet!” not realizing the play on words. It was indeed a sweet victory for her connections, and a more deserving winner you will never find.
I need to add one more thing here before I go on to the next race. My horses finished on both ends of the field for the first time ever. Life is Sweet 1st, Careless Jewel last, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.
An Easy Decision
I had seen all the evidence; her record was a testament to flawless synthetic form, she had already defeated the favorite in a previous meeting, won five of her six races this year and finished third in her one loosing attempt, finishing behind a dual champion, yet I still didn’t choose her to win. Informed Decision had the perfect trip in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and took full advantage of it.
Long shot Free Flying Soul took the lead at the start with informed Decision rating just off her in second. As soon as she came out of the gate she appeared completely comfortable and relaxed, I realized right away that neither Sara Louise nor Ventura was going to be winning this time. Entering the homestretch Informed Decision willingly took the lead and poured it on while defending Sprint winner Ventura came flying from second to last with tremendous strides in the center of the track. They kept up their furious rallies the length of the stretch, but Ventura was unable to make up enough ground on a determined Informed Decision and had to settle for second. Looking the part of a winner the entire length of the race, Informed Decision has now won 11 of 14 lifetime starts and 6 of 7 starts this year. She has placed herself squarely in line to win the Eclipse award as runaway Champion Female Sprinter 2009.
The most exciting stretch run of the Friday Breeders Cup card came in the 2nd running of the Breeders’ Cup Marathon. I have been saying for awhile now that I am rooting for American runners to win every Breeders Cup race except for the Mile, where I am placing my allegiance with Goldikova, and although my “hope” for the “all American” finishes isn’t going to happen in every single race, I still like our chances against most of the Euro’s who are left. Cloudy’s Knight has been my pick for the Marathon ever since last month and I was thrilled with his courageous effort against the talented Euro Man Of Iron. The clear-cut favorite for the Marathon this year was Mastery, another brilliant European runner with sights on Breeders Cup glory.
In the beginning stages of the race Man of Iron held last position for jockey Johnny Murtagh before moving to ninth of ten for the majority of the trip. Meanwhile Cloudy’s Knight was stalking the leaders in mid-pack with last year’s Marathon champ, Muhannak, in second. Approaching the homestretch turn Cloudy’s Knight swept to the lead with a three wide rally with Mastery in close pursuit, while Man of Iron closed strongly from behind. Down the homestretch Cloudy’s Knight was caught by Man of Iron inside the sixteenth pole and these two roared through the stretch, neck and neck, neither giving an inch. Man of Iron seemed to gain a barely perceptible edge a few jumps before the wire, but Cloudy’s Knight was still coming. It was Man of Iron the winner by a nose in a thrilling photo finish. Mastery finished third and last year winner Muhannak came home fifth. The Marthon distance was increased to 1 ¾ miles for this year’s running.
High Note for Midday
This year’s edition of the $2 million Emirate Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf was one of the strongest fields in recent history. Last year’s winner and 2008 Champion Female Grass Horse, Forever Together, was made the slight favorite over European Midday but was unable to duplicate her effort of last year. A very slow pace was set by Visit for the first six furlongs with Dynaforce rating in second. Midday raced mid-pack through the backstretch before accelerating on the final turn and edging clear of pace-setter Visit to gain the lead before the sixteenth pole. Forever Together took up her customary position at the back of the pack, perhaps being placed too far back by jockey Julien Leparoux, and was compromised by the slow pace up front. Midday opened up a clear lead before the line and maintained a comfortable margin all the way to the wire. Pure Clan put in a late run on the inside to get up for second behind the victorious Midday, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of the late running Forever Together. Magical Fantasy was nosed out for fourth by Visit with Maram coming in sixth. Rutherienne and Dynaforce completed the order of finish. Chalk one more up for the Euro’s!
When the field for the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies came sweeping into the turn it seemed like every one of the 12 contestants had a wide open chance to win. This was one of the most evenly matched fields for the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies in recent memory. She Be Wild managed to detach herself from the pack midway through the homestretch defeating second place Beautician and third place race favorite Blind Luck. She Be Wild has now won four of her five lifetimes starts and is the most likely candidate for the Eclipse award as Champion Juvenile Filly.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
Tapitsfly has been receiving a good amount of hype this week due to her excellent works at Santa Anita in preparation for her run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Apparently the hype wasn’t for nothing this time. In second place for almost the entire run behind pace setter Rose Catherine, Jockey Robby Albarado asked the filly for run in the stretch and she responded with beautiful acceleration. She gained on the leader before finally inching clear for a half length victory.
Attendance was up from last year on the Breeders’ Cup Friday program and handle at the track was also slightly up. You can bet there will be a huge crowd coming Saturday for the chance to see the undisputed “Queen of racing”, Zenyatta take on the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Sit back and enjoy the ride, there is a whole day left of races to be run, champions to be crowned, records to be attempted and excitement to experience. Brind on the Breeders Cup day 2!