Breeders’ Cup Day 2: League Of The Forgotten
Posted by Brian Appleton on November 11, 2009
The 26th Breeders’ Cup Championships are over, the champions have been crowned and history has been made. The hottest topic in racing is now Zenyatta vs. Rachel Alexandra for Horse of the Year award. With all the hype surrounding Zenyatta’s stunning victory against males in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, most of the other Breeders’ Cup victors seem to almost be a forgotten story.
In any other year Goldikova’s incredible repeat victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile would have been the banner headline. Her accomplishment here deserves much more praise and attention than the racing world has bestowed upon her. She has done what only the great Miesque in 1987-1988 was able to do. Win two Breeders’ Cup Mile’s against the best males in the world without missing a beat. Goldikova’s trainer Freddy Head just happens to be the jockey that rode Miesque to both of her Mile victories, and is now the only person ever to train, and ride winners in the Breeders’ Cup, let alone twice in both categories.
Breaking from the far outside in post #11, Goldikova was second to last. Pacesetting Karelian ran an opening quarter of :22.98 with Cowboy Cal rating just behind. As they approached the far turn Cowboy Cal took over briefly before long-shot Courageous Cat whizzed by, opening 1 ½ lengths on the field. With a furlong remaining in the race, Goldikova began to unleash a furious rally from the back, picking horses off one by one. Angled to the center of the course by jockey Peslier, Goldikova poured it on. Only 3 lengths from the lead, then two, one and in the blink of an eye she was home free, sailing under the line under a full head of steam. There were some questions before the race as to whether or not Goldikova was as good as she was in her spectacular three year old season last year, or if she had edged off that form somewhat. Suffice it to say, there are no questions now. She will go down as one of the greatest Breeders’ Cup champions of all time.
A second Breeders’ Cup repeat came when favored Conduit won the Breeders’ Cup Turf over an ultra impressive Precious Passion. Breaking like a bolt of lightning from the gate, Precious Passion led the field on a merry game of “catch me if you can”, while Conduit took up position in the rear of the pack. Opening up three lengths on the field from the get go, Precious Passion extended his lead to about 12 lengths down the backstretch, looking very comfortable while doing it. As the field began rounding the final turn it looked as if Precious Passion would be a candidate for last place finish. Spanish Moon and filly Dar Re Mi were closest coming off the turn, while Conduit swung wide flying up with powerful strides. Defying what appeared to be a sure defeat, Precious Passion dug in gamely when Conduit came rushing up. They dueled through the stretch before Conduit was finally able to gain the upper hand and win by half a length over the irrepressible Precious Passion. Dar Re Mi got up for third, beaten only a length.
One of the most impressive efforts of the day, regardless of win or lose, was Lookin at Lucky’s runner up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Made the heavy favorite due to his undefeated 4 for 4 record and regardless of his number 13 post, Lookin at Lucky looked much the best even in defeat. Piscitelli and D’Funnybone were the first two out of the gate, with Piscitelli taking the lead. Eventual winner Vale of York, tracked in third. Into the homestretch it seemed Noble’s Promise was on his way to victory, but Lookin at Lucky and Vale of York were flying from the middle of the pack. It appeared Lookin at Lucky would prevail, but Vale of York proved a determined foe. With one final surge, Vale of York caught the wire a neck ahead of a “tough luck” Lookin at Lucky.
The Breeders’ Cup Sprint provided one of the day’s biggest surprises, and also one of the most shocking upsets. Red-hot Zensational looked to be invincible coming into the Sprint, riding his 4 race win streak, the last 3 being grade 1’s. After one of the worst trips in memory, in which he broke from the #1 post alongside the speedy Cost Of Freedom, Zensational wound up finishing fifth behind a “blanket finish wall” of four horses at the wire. It was one of the most exciting Breeders’ Cup Sprints in history, four horses together on the line in one big photo finish. 25-1 Longshot Dancing in Silks got up to win by a nose over Crown of Thorns who finished a head in front of Cost of Freedom, with Gayego a nose back in fourth.
Flag Flying High
After finishing a dismal 10th in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, California Flag seized the lead from the start in 2009 edition and never looked back. This was one of the most enjoyable races for me to watch aside from the Turf and Classic. I love a horse that can take a field from gate to wire and leave no doubt about their victory. After posting fractions of :21.50 for the opening quarter mile, and :43.09, California Flag shot off the final turn and kept roaring down the stretch, opening up on the field, before finishing a comfortable 1 ¾ lengths in the lead. His final time of 1:11.28 was a new stakes record.
“Dirt-my foot” Mile (had to throw that in)
Mastercraftsman was one of the heaviest favorites of the day and the almost unanimous choice to win in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt (synthetic) Mile. Last year’s 2 year old Champion Male, Midshipman, was also entered. Having raced only once in 2009 when winning an allowance race, he was a question mark, but winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride synthetics in 2008 bode well for him. 21-1 longshot Furthest Land pulled the shocking upset here with fellow longshot Ready’s Echo at 24-1 getting second. Midshipman came home third after leading the field from the gate to the homestretch turn. Mastercraftsman was a non factor, finishing well behind the top three.
This was one of the best looking horses of the entire Breeders’ Cup in my opinion. The second he stepped into the paddock before the race, I dropped all other choices and made him my solid win choice for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Bridgetown took the field through opening fractions of :23:61 while Interactif pressed the pace on the outside. Bridgetown slingshotted off the turn and extended his lead over Interactif as the field began to close in. Pounced looked to be in trouble coming into the stretch, but rider Frankie Dettori was able rouse his mount mid-stretch enough to rally a furious run. Rushing to the lead, Pounced split the frontrunners and surged ahead. It was a gritty win by the determined young colt, who seems to have a very promising future.
The Breeder’s Cup treated me very well this year.
On day 1 I was able to choose the winners of Ladies Classic, Juvenile Fillies
and Juvenile Fillies Turf, as well as getting beat narrowly in the Marathon with Coudy’s Knight. My Filly and Mare Sprint choice Sara Louise lacked her usual kick in the stretch and ruined my top three of Sara Louise, Informed Decision, and Ventura. I got slaughtered in the Filly and Mare Turf when Rutherienne was nowhere to be found, she must have missed the memo. My second and third picks Pure Clan and Forever Together must have received the memo though, because they finished 2,3 for me.
In Day 2 my Pounced, Awesome Act, Interactif tri was upset when Awesome Act finished fourth. California Flag came through for my win choice, but my Curlin family addiction proved unfortunate when Square Eddie wound up nowhere. The Breeders’ Cup Sprint was just about the worst handicapping job I’ve ever done in my life! Zensational killed my win, and Fatal Bullet followed right behind. At least they finished 1-2 relative to each other, just in the wrong field positions!(: My Lookin at Lucky, D’Funnybone, Noble’s Promise tri pick went nowhere. Lookin at Lucky and Noble’s Promise came in second and third, but D’Funnybone was dead in the stretch. Precious Passion just ruined my tri of Precious Passion, Conduit, Dar Re Mi in the Turf, but it was so close. Goldikova was wonderful to me, but I didn’t even consider second place finisher Courageous Cat before the race. I was gunning for Mastercraftsman to lose the Dirt Mile with my Midshipman, Furthest Land, Bullsbay tri in this one. The Curlin family angle served me well here (: but it didn’t really matter as they all finished in the wrong order and one missed the top three anyway. I almost hit a homerun with the Classic, but just missed when Twice Over took third over Summer Bird by a nose. My tri was Zenyatta, Gio Ponti (he looked awesome in the post parade) and Summer Bird.
Who did you pick in the Breeders’ Cup races and how did they run for you? Or who do you wish you had picked and didn’t? I hate it when I discard a horse for some reason, and then they go on to win or ruin your top three picks, that’s one of the most de-gratifying things ever.
Overall, the Breeders’ Cup 2009 was a terrific experience, and one that will keep me in awe for many years to come.
I will be doing a post of Rachel Alexandra vs. Zenyatta for Horse of the Year soon.