Lots of things worth remembering at Breeders’ Cup
This year’s Breeders’ Cup world championships held under the Twin Spires at historic Churchill Downs delivered with a solid punch in crisp, autumn conditions.
Some thoughts on the return to Louisville for the first time since 2011:
Over 112,000 race fans took in the two-day racing festival at expansive Churchill Downs. It was comfortable moving around during both days and the weather gods cooperated for the most part.
Friday was a little chilly, but Saturday was an absolutely beautiful fall day in Kentucky. The sun shined brightly all day as the equine stars paraded through the Churchill paddock onto the track that houses America’s most famous race.
While Accelerate stole the show and possibly Justify’s Eclipse Award, the most talented horse on the premises had to be Enable. The two-time Arc winner was incredible in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and left more than one sportswriter in awe.
Chiefly overshadowed by the last two races of the day, Monomoy Girl put a stamp on what was a fabulous racing campaign with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Any other year, she’d be in the Horse of the Year discussion.
Putting all of the juvenile races on the Friday card proved to be not only a great marketing idea, but some future stars emerged by twilight that evening.
Future Stars Friday was just that with impressive wins on the dirt by Game Winner and Jaywalk and a sparkling performance by the undefeated Newspaperofrecord in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
If you bet a $1 superfecta box on my top four selections in the Filly & Mare Turf (cost: $24) so scored for $726. That was easily my best prognostication on the weekend. Expert Eye was the highest paying top selection, winning the Mile and paying $13.80.
On Thursday afternoon I was preaching a California permanent home base for future Cups as the rain pelted the few media that morning. I’m an advocate for moving it around and look forward to a Laurel BC in hopefully the near term future.
My biggest swing and miss of the weekend: Abel Tasman.
Biggest surprise of the weekend: Mark Casse’s Shamrock Rose ($53.80) in the Filly & Mare Sprint. I had Chalon in my early Pick-3 and his nose loss cost me a pretty penny after wins by Stormy Liberal and City of Light (over heavy favorite Catalina Cruiser). Speaking of which.
Biggest flop of the weekend: Catalina Cruiser. Did you think John Sadler had any chance after seeing likely one of the biggest favorites on the card succumb in the Dirt Mile? I didn’t.
Gunnevera is the best horse not to win anything. (Except money).
Jose Ortiz had a rough day, I don’t even want to give out his stats they were so bad. Even the good ones have off days.
Has a horse faded out of the spotlight any faster than Wonder Gadot? Dead on the board and a non-factor in the Distaff. The dual Classic winner, in hindsight, should have taken that shot at the Canadian Triple Crown.
Poor Catholic Boy, wiped out at the start and couldn’t get going, I sure would’ve like to see how he would fare against his elders late in the race.
Yoshida didn’t disappoint, just got going too late. Jose seemed pleased with the effort afterwards, it just happened to be Accelerate’s day.
I was skeptical of Accelerate’s chances outside of southern California, but he proved me (and my wallet) wrong.
Now the debate begins for Horse of the Year. We’ll never know how Justify would have fared against elders, which is the true test of a champion.
Maybe sending a message to those who retire horses early would make a difference in the future. Realistically though, probably not. Cash is always king.
Santa Anita will host next year and it is my second favorite track. I look forward to the trek to Pasadena and to the Great Race Place with the gorgeous San Gabriel Mountains in the backdrop.
Next week we’ll recap our 2018 Kreskin predictions which wrapped up last Saturday.