Enable re-writes the history books
ENABLE went where Dancing Brave, Sakhee, Golden Horn and Found could not when she became the first Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner to follow up at the Breeders' Cup, recording history in the Turf at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
The queen of European racing was given a confident ride by Frankie Dettori, who sat her just off the pace and angled her wide before the turn for home.
From there, fellow European raider Magical provided the biggest threat, but Enable was very much able to dismiss her, powering home for a decisive victory.
Sadler’s Joy was third, but the £2.7 million contest was about only one horse.
Trained in Newmarket by John Gosden for owner-breeder Khalid Abdullah, Enable won the Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Arc during a stellar 2017. Her campaign this term was stalled until September following a spring setback, although the daughter of Nathaniel has made up for lost time. She recorded back-to-back Arc victories last month and was strongly fancied in her bid for immortality.
History was against her though as no Arc winner had graduated to Breeders’ Cup glory in the same season, but history was rewritten as she roared home.
“It was a big ask for the filly and everyone knows she’s had a difficult year,” said Gosden, winning his first Turf, but fifth Breeders’ Cup prize.
“She didn’t quite come here in the form she would have last year, but she’s done it. It was a tough race. Frankie was determined to stay wide for the better ground, but Hunting Horn was attending us all the way and then Ryan Moore slipped up our inner on Magical.
“I thought she was going to have us, but it was a wonderful stretch run between two great fillies and two great jockeys.
“We’ve come out on top and full marks to our filly because she's been very brave and mentally very strong. She did it today with sheer guts and determination.”
It might have ended in frustratingly familiar style for the European contingent, but Accelerate went some way to advancing his claims for the US Horse of the Year title with a crushing demolition of his rivals in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
With the three-year-old Triple Crown champion Justify having retired after not competing outside his own age group, this was another chance for John Sadler’s massively improved five-year-old to leave an indelible impression on the senior ranks.
The 9-2 shot took that opportunity in grand style with a devastating performance of class, courage and conviction under Joel Rosario, who was winning his first Classic after a brace in the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies on Friday.
“That was about as good as it gets,” beamed Rosario.
“That horse is simply unbelievable. It was a great performance. He has so much heart.”
Sadler has trained for 40 years, but his 44 previous Breeders’ Cup runners all failed to win.
Accelerate had already taken him to dizzy heights this year.
“I’m thrilled, no doubt,” said a serene Sadler, whose Catapult had been done on the line by Expert Eye in the Mile.
“I mean, this is what I do every day, every year for my whole career, so to really get the big one, I couldn't ask for a better day.
“We’re prepared for the worst and hope for the best.
“I mean, horseracing is a great sport, and this horse has been good.”
Godolphin’s Thunder Snow was bang there in between, but couldn’t live with Accelerate, who ground his way home to withstand the challenge of the closing Gunnevera by a length.
Thunder Snow kept on for third under Christophe Soumillon, whose whip use made for a rather unedifying sight, while Mendelssohn lost fourth to Yoshida at the death.
Roaring Lion suffered an early bump and never looked happy getting when hit with shovel-loads of sand.
He eventually trailed home a long last, and will now likely be retired to stud.