Welcome to the first Hooves Blog Breeder’s Cup Roundup!
Might as well get the bad news out of the way first. In the Juvenile Fillies race, Bob Baffert’s Secret Compass was euthanized after suffering a lateral condylar fracture and a dislocation. Her jockey John Velazquez took a hard fall and was taken to the hospital. A number of hours in, the doctors detected internal bleeding and just before the last cup race of the day, he was in surgery to have his spleen removed.
This first race wasn’t shown on TV as coverage hadn’t started yet, so I missed the race. I was able to catch a replay on livestream, but didn’t see the injury or fall take place. Just as well. We can argue all day long about racing two year olds, but I’m having a harder and harder time remembering a ‘big televised racing event’ happening WITHOUT a tragic end. I imagine what keeps people coming back year after year is that despite the tragedy the end of this race was thrilling. After leading the whole way, She’s A Tiger, hung on by a nose to win only then to be placed second behind Rio Antonia for a very minor bump in deep stretch.
The Filly and Mare Turf race went to the English horse, Dank. Who charged from the back in the stretch and then held off other hard charging horses. The time of the race was a new race record. I noticed after the race that Dank was bleeding from her mouth. I’m guessing she bit her tongue. She really fought her jockey through much of the race.
Groupie Doll and Wise Dan were both repeat winners in their respective races; Filly and Mare Sprint and The Mile on the Turf.
The post-race interview that irked me the most came from the owner of MizDirection, who was also a repeat winner in her race, The Turf Sprint. After a long layoff last year and after a long layoff this year, she came into both Breeder’s Cup races to dominate. She was to get on an airplane shortly after her race yesterday to be entered in a sale, presumably to begin a career as a broodmare. The owner was asked in the winner’s circle how he felt about the whole situation. To paraphrase; he said he was going to miss her, but it’s business. I admit, I yelled some obscenities at the TV screen.
The 1 3/4 mile Marathon was won by the UK horse London Bridge. Funnily enough, London Bridge is a New York bred. It was the first time the three year old colt had raced on Lasix. The days leading up to the race saw him struggle with the race surface, so his shoes were changed. The day before the race he was put in the starting gate and allowed to break. He came from way back and though he looked like he was flying at the end and an easy winner, I assure you, the rest of the horses were staggering badly for most of the stretch run. I could have out run them. London Bridge is apparently on his way to Australia next for a race. The Argentine horse, Ever Rider, was pulled up in this race by his jockey Gary Stevens. This horse was touted as the best conditioned horse prior to the race by all the race announcers. Pfft! The horse walked off on his own and it was later reported that Gary pulled him up because he tired badly. No injury reported.
One of the best looking horses on the day was the Goldolphin two year old colt, Outstrip. He came from way behind to win the Juvenile Turf race. Bobby’s Kitten was the heavy favorite in this race and his jockey put him out front in blistering fractions. He battled hard with Giovanni Boldini in the stretch, but Outstrip ran them both down. All the talk for the rest of the day and next was how upset the trainer was of Bobby’s Kitten’s jockey, Javier Castellano, who he felt blundered by setting fractions of 22.27, 45.70 and 1:09.53. Javier said the two year old broke well, felt good, but then ran off a bit and wouldn’t settle. Duh! It happens, especially when you’re racing immature horses. Maybe put a bit more training on them and wait for them to mature? At least he didn’t run sideways the entire race like Bob Baffert’s Tap It Rich.
Which brings me to the second most annoying interview of the event. When Bob Baffert was asked (in reference to his talented two year old colt, Tap It Rich) if he’d prefer having a horse that shows moments of brilliance or one that’s just plain tough, Mr. Baffert announced brilliance without hesitation. And that, sir, is exactly why the American TB is in such dire straits nowadays. When prolific trainers such as yourself put importance on characteristics that last a moment, instead of the stuff that matters for a lifetime. What good is a flash of brilliance, if your horse doesn’t have the brain to run straight, or if your horse doesn’t have the substance (Secret Compass – remember her?) to stay sound? But then what should he care when he can simply pull out another horse, like New Year’s Day, and win the 1 1/16 mile Juvenile and let Tap It Rich finish fifth running sideways most of the race?
Goldencents had a phenomenal wire-to-wire win in the Dirt Mile.
And now we get to the big race, The Classic. I should have taken that bet with blondemare. She was so sure Game On Dude was going to win, and I was so sure he was not. I put my virtual bet on Mucho Macho Man. Both horses broke well and were on top with two others. My fifty year old out-of-retirement jockey, Gary Stevens, took Man back a bit and placed him fifth on the outside, while the all-time winning jockey of Breeder’s Cup races, Mike Smith, kept Dude near the front with the other two horses, three wide. Three quarters of the way around the final turn, Man stuck his nose in front on the outside and put the pedal to the metal. Dude gave it up at the top of the stretch and started to fade, while Man trucked on. Coming late and hard were Declaration Of War and Will Take Charge.
Here’s the Photo Finish: Mucho Macho Man on the inside, Declaration Of War in the middle, and Will Take Charge on the outside.
Video of the race: Race Replay