It was one of the most anticipated weekends of the year, with horse racing royalty and its biggest fans convening at Santa Anita to witness champions in every division battle down to the wire. There were several surprising upsets this weekend and a few horses confirming they are in fact the real deal. Here's your Breeders' Cup weekend recap.
We'll start with Future Stars Friday, the day of five championship juvenile races.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint
FOUR WHEEL DRIVE went to the front to the set the pace with fast fractions of :21.55 and :44.03 and never looked back. CHIMNEY ROCK was game and fought all the way, but didn't have enough to overcome the son of AMERICAN PHAROAH who completed the five-furlong sprint with a final time of :55.66 over firm turf. Another Pharoah son, ANOTHER MIRACLE, rallied from the pack, barely holding off KIMARI on the stretch to finish third.
FOUR WHEEL DRIVE's win is the first championship level win out of his first crop of foals for the Triple Crown-winning AMERICAN PHAROAH. He is trained by Wesley Ward and owned by Breeze Easy LLC. CHIMNEY ROCK is a Louisiana-bred colt by ARTIE SCHILLER.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf
GRACEFULL KITTEN set the pace with fractions of :23.14 and :47.55. STRUCTOR split horses in the stretch, flying out from mid-pack and rallied to take the win. BILLY BATTS, at 50-1, held on to take second and the 60-1 GEAR JOCKEY took third. The favorites, DECORATED INVADER and ARIZONA, finished fourth and fifth respectively.
STRUCTOR is trained by Chad Brown, giving Brown his 13th Breeders' Cup win but the first win in this division.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies
TWO SIXTY, WICKED WHISPER and BAST went to the lead to set the pace for the juvenile fillies at :22.71 and :46.02. The three fillies ran together for most of the race around the first turn and down the backstretch with TWO SIXTY giving way before the final turn. DONNA VELOCE loomed right behind the three fillies the entire race. Around the far turn, DONNA VELOCE went to the lead by a length and a half. BRITISH IDIOM came up on the outside to battle and the pair battled it down to the wire with BRITISH IDIOM taking the win by a head. The final time was 1:47.07. DONNA VELOCE held on for second followed by BAST in third.
BRITISH IDIOM was a $40,000 purchase and is one to watch on the Kentucky Oaks trail.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
ABSCOND went to the lead setting opening fractions of :22.74 and :47.02. Tiring through the turn, SWEET MELANIA took over the lead as the headed down the stretch. Running wide down the track, SHARING, at 13-1, ran down SWEET MELANIA for the upset with a final time of 1:34.59 for the mile. DAAHYEH, one of the European runners, charged ahead for second over SWEET MELANIA who held on for third.
Breeders' Cup Juvenile
DENNIS' MOMENT tripped at the start was well out of the race at the start and was never able to get involved. STORM THE COURT set the pace. EIGHT RINGS followed closely in second, followed by ANNEAU D'OR. EIGHT RINGS faded badly in the stretch. STORM THE COURT kept his lead as ANNEAU D'OR took over briefly and the pair battled to the wire. STORM THE COURT at 45-1 took the win by a nose. ANNEAU D'OR at 25-1 held on for second followed by the 35-1 WRECKING CREW.
STORM THE COURT is by COURT VISION, who stands in Louisiana. He was a $60,000 auction buy for Exline-Border racing and partners.
Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint
Breeders' Cup Saturday kicked off with the fillies and mares in the $1 million Breeder's Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. COVFEFE, the 3-2 favorite, stalked the pacesetter, DANUSKA'S MY GIRL and HEAVENHASMYNIKKI. Moving to the outside as the made the turn and at the top of the stretch, COVFEFE hit the front to take the lead. BELLAFINA chased in second and DAWN THE DESTROYER finished third at 22-1.
COVFEFE is named after President Trump's famous Twitter typo and is trained by Brad Cox. She is owned by LMJ Foxwoods.
Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint
BELVOIR BAY went to the front and never looked back. She set fractions of :21.47 and :43.43. STORMY LIBERAL had a good beginning but couldn't turn it into a threepeat. OM and SHEKKY SHEBAZ rallied, but couldn't overcome her as she beat the boys with the fast time for the turf sprint ever at :54.83.
BELVOIR BAY has an amazing story as the mare is a survivor of the San Luis Rey Fire in 2018, where she was lost for ten days. Bruised and traumatized, she came back stronger than ever to not only race again, but to beat the boys as a 14-1 upset with a course record time.
Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile
IMPROBABLE had a good break, but SPUN TO RUN went to the early lead. IMPROBABLE went inside 3 1/2 lengths off the lead. OMAHA BEACH sat 7 lengths behind. SPUN TO RUN set fractions of :23.05 and :46.51, As they made their way into the turn, OMAHA BEACH had a lot of ground to make up. BLUE CHIPPER held on inside and OMAHA BEACH made his way up to third as SPUN TO RUN stayed steady in the lead. At the wire, OMAHA BEACH rallied for second followed by BLUE CHIPPER at 16-1 in third.
Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf
MIRTH opened up the lead by nearly 10 lengths up the backstretch with fractions of :23.45 and :46.45. With THAIS being scratched by the vets, there was a concern that SISTERCHARLIE wouldn't have her pacesetter to chase, but MIRTH did the job for the THAIS. VASILIKA ran second behind MIRTH. SISTERCHARLIE set back in fifth as the entered the backstretch and went three-wide into the turn. SISTERCHARLIE rallied but couldn't get up to the leaders fast enough. IRIDESSA made her move from the mid-pack and battled it down to the wire with VASILIKA to take the win. The final finish was IRIDESSA at 13-1, VASILIKA at 9-2 and SISTERCHARLIE at 4-5.
IRIDESSA is trained by Joseph O'Brien, the son of Aiden O'Brien. The first win for the Europeans who had been shut out in Future Stars Friday.
Breeders' Cup Sprint
SHANCELOT and MATERA SKY set blistering fractions of 21.47 and :44.04. MITOLE was off the pace and went three-wide around the turn. Into the stretch, SHANCELOT was in front with MITOLE on the outside. FIRENZE FIRE was third coming down the stretch. SHANCELOT and MITOLE battled down the stretch to pull away by a length at the wire.
The track was not playing well for horses coming off the pace, but MITOLE powered to overcome and take the win. SHANCELOT held on for second, followed by a game WHITMORE at 19-1 for third. MITOLE is now bound for the stud life at Spendthrift Farm.
Breeders' Cup Mile
HEY GAMAN set the pace followed by EL TORMENTA. The pair held the lead, while UNI was thirteen lengths off the lead. Around the far turn, HEY GAMAN and EL TORMENTA still held the lead, but rallying on the outside, GOT STORMY and UNI came wide and battled down the stretch to beat the boys. UNI finished first with GOT STORMY holding on for second and WITHOUT PAROLE followed for third.
Breeders' Cup Distaff
The day started off with MIDNIGHT BISOU's owner, Jeff Bloom, announcing that the mare would continue to race in 2020 instead of going to the Fasig-Tipton sale. This ensured she would get another chance at the Breeders' Cup Distaff next year.
This year, however, it was another upset in the Distaff. It started with SERENGETI EMPRESS and MO SEE CAL going to the front to set the pace. MIDNIGHT BISOU set five lengths behind. The pace was fast with fractions of :22.98 and :46.68. As the came to the far turn, OLLIE'S CANDY stormed up to second with SERENGETI still leading. BLUE PRIZE came three-wide, MIDNIGHT BISOU made her move on the far outside as well. BLUE PRIZE and MIDNIGHT BISOU battled down to the wire. BLUE PRIZE took the win by a length over MIDNIGHT BISOU in second.
BLUE PRIZE was the third Argentinian bred mare to win the Distaff. She was 11-1 coming into the race, having placed fourth last year.
Breeders' Cup Turf
For fans of BRICKS AND MORTAR, this one was a nailbiter. MOUNT EVEREST had a slow start. ACCLIMATE led the way down the hill. BRICKS AND MORTAR raced in fourth behind horses. The pace was slow with the first half at :48.22. ACCLIMATE continued to lead up the backstretch followed by BANDUA. UNITED and CHANNEL MAKER followed. Around the far turn, BANDUA took the lead on the outside. BRICKS AND MORTAR finally got his hole and broke out of the pack to run down UNITED and take the win.
The final finish was BRICKS AND MORTAR followed by UNITED and ANTHONY VAN DYCK in third.
BRICKS AND MORTAR is now a strong contender for Horse of the Year and will go to Japan to stand stud next year.
Breeders' Cup Classic
WAR OF WILL went up for the early lead. The opening quarter-mile was :23.09. WAR OF WILL opened up a 2 1/2 length early lead. MCKINZIE followed with MONGOLIAN GROOM. The half-mile was :47.16. MCKINZIE took over with MONGOLIAN GROOM right behind. At the top of the stretch, MCKINZIE was off the turn in front. VINO ROSSO pulled alongside MCKINZIE at the top of the stretch. At the 16th pole, VINNO ROSSO took the lead and the win. MCKINZIE finished second followed by HIGHER POWER in third.
Unfortunately, as they came down the stretch, MONGOLIAN GROOM was pulled up with WAR OF WILL just squeaking by him on the rail. The horse ambulance came out to the track and he was vanned off. The vets determined a fracture cannon bone and pastern. The decision was made to euthanize the gelding. It had been a weekend that was accident-free for Santa Anita to this point. The vets had been especially careful, scratching several horses over the two days of racing. Unfortunately, in the final race, there was a casualty that has continued the controversy and perhaps the curse of Santa Anita this year. MONGOLIAN GROOM was the 37th casualty.