VENUE: Keeneland on Nov. 6-7.
Main Track: dirt, fast Friday and Saturday; Turf Course: good Friday and for Saturday’s BC Turf Sprint, firm for Saturday’s BC Filly & Mare Turf, BC Mile and BC Turf.
$6 MILLION CLASSIC (NOV. 7)
Results: (1) Authentic, who paid $10.40, (2) Improbable, (3) Global Campaign.
Winner: Owned by Spendthrift Farm, MyRacehorse.com Stable, Madaket Stables and Starlight Racing; trained by Bob Baffert; ridden by John Velazquez.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 111. Vino Rosso won the 2019 BC Classic at Santa Anita with a 111 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Classic: 124 (Sunday Silence in 1989 at Gulfstream Park, Ghostzapper in 2004 at Lone Star Park).
Recap: Dashing immediately to the front, Authentic led past every pole and put an exclamation point on his 2020 campaign by winning the nation’s richest race, the 1 1/4-mile BC Classic at odds of 4-1 while facing older foes for the first time.
Authentic provided Baffert with his fourth BC Classic victory, all with 3-year-olds, following Bayern in 2014, American Pharoah in 2015 and Arrogate in 2016.
Not only did Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert win this year’s BC Classic, it was a Baffert exacta. The $1 exacta paid $22.70. Improbable, off at 7-2, ran second in the field of 10. Global Campaign, dismissed in the wagering at 25-1, ended up third.
In my selections for Xpressbet.com, I made Tacitus my “nice-price danger” selection. I wrote “the price is right for a superfecta candidate.”
Tacitus, a 21-1 longshot, finished fourth to round out a 10-cent superfecta that returned $167.95. Maximum Security, the third starter trained by Baffert, came in fifth and was followed across the finish line in order by Tiz the Law, Title Ready, By My Standards, Tom’s d’Etat (my pick to win, ouch) and Higher Power.
In Authentic’s 2020 debut, he won the Grade III Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 4. Authentic ran all over the place in the final furlong that day. At one point, he ducked in so sharply that he nearly hit the inside rail. To win by 7 3/4 lengths despite such behavior not only showed everyone just how much ability this equine athlete possesses, it was a harbinger of important wins to come.
What Authentic accomplished during the first half of the year mainly was due to his raw talent. That he would become more professional during the second half of the year is understandable inasmuch as he’s what is termed “a late foal.” He was born on June 5. Because of the coronavirus, the Kentucky Derby this year was delayed to Sept. 5. If the Run for the Roses had been run on its original date of May 2, Authentic would not have celebrated his actual third birthday yet.
After the Sham, Authentic led all the way when he won Santa Anita’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths on March 7. The Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt then lost for the first time when he finished second, 2 3/4 length behind the highly regarded Honor A.P., in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on June 6.
Authentic had the outside post in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby. He veered outward in the initial strides. When unable to clear the field early, he found himself vying for the lead in a three-wide trip all the way to the top of the stretch. Honor A.P. then charged to the front in upper stretch and kicked clear.
Next, Authentic won Monmouth Park’s Grade I Haskell Invitational on July 18, but he darn near blew it. Because he lost his focus in the final furlong, he turned a 2 1/2-length lead with a furlong to go into a desperate nose victory over Ny Traffic. What happened in that 1 1/8-mile affair fueled speculation on the part of many that 1 1/4 miles might be farther than Authentic wanted to go.
But Authentic did win the coveted Grade I, 1 1/4 mile Kentucky Derby by slightly more than one length at odds of 8-1 when he came home better than 7-10 favorite Tiz the Law. After the race, Authentic caused a ruckus in the winner’s circle when the traditional garland of roses was placed on him. According to Baffert, ribbons that been added to the bottom of the garland of roses “scared the hell out of him.”
Between the Haskell and the Kentucky Derby, Baffert really tightened the screws on Authentic in his training. The trainer did not train the colt as hard between the Kentucky Derby and the Grade I, 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Oct. 3. Nevertheless, Authentic nearly won in Baltimore.
In the Preakness, jockey Robby Albarado on Swiss Skydiver boldly wrested the lead from Authentic with about four furlongs left to run. There never was much separating Swiss Skydiver and Authentic the rest of the way. But the filly managed to keep a small lead all the way to the end. Swiss Skydiver won by a neck. The thing about Authentic is he seems to be more effective if he is the one in front.
But in the BC Classic, nobody ever made a Swiss Skydiver-like move to try and take the lead away from, or put pressure on, Authentic. Did all the other riders simply make a tactical error by letting Authentic roll along on an uncontested lead? Or, from start to finish, was Authentic just too fast for them on this particular occasion?
In any case, the plain truth is if you let Authentic alone on the front end, your chances of beating him are significantly reduced. He won the BC Classic by 2 1/4 lengths.
By the way, not only did Authentic receive the winner’s share of the $6 million BC Classic purse, he received a $1 million bonus. He took the first-ever “BetMakers Bonanza” created by BetMakers and Monmouth Park that offered $1 million for a sweep of the Haskell, Kentucky Derby and BC Classic.
BC CLASSIC FINAL TIME CONTROVERSY
Authentic’s final time was 1:59.19. Or was it? Once again the Thoroughbred sport has embarrassed itself in terms of the timing of its races.
One would have thought timing never again would be an issue after the 1973 Preakness Stakes fiasco. Secretariat’s original time was posted as 1:55. But there had been a timer malfunction. Two Daily Racing Form clockers timed Secretariat in 1:53 2/5, which would have broken Canonero II’s track record of 1:54.
In the Kentucky Derby, Secretariat’s final time of 1:59 2/5 broke Northern Dancer’s track record of 2:00.
Secretariat’s official Preakness time became 1:54 2/5. That was the time provided by the Pimlico clocker, E.T. McClean.
Owner Penny Chenery (Penny Tweedy at the time), trainer Lucien Laurin and jockey Ron Turcotte all were miffed in their belief (like many others) that Secretariat had been robbed of setting a track record in the Preakness.
But keep in mind that what happened time-wise in the Preakness was why Turcotte did not ease up on Secretariat and just let him canter home after opening a huge lead in the subsequent Belmont Stakes. Team Secretariat not only hoped their colt would become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, they wanted him to, if at all possible, break the 1 1/2-mile track record in the Belmont Stakes.
With a furlong left to go in the Belmont, Secretariat was 28 lengths in front. He had left Sham and the others in a different zip code. Years later, I asked Turcotte if, at any time during the final furlong of the Belmont, he was looking at the timer in the infield.
“Oh, I was,” Turcotte said. “I was definitely looking at the timer. I was looking at the teletimer because I was not racing against any horse. All I was racing against was the clock at that point.”
Secretariat’s 2:24 Belmont clocking shattered Gallant Man’s track record set in 1957 by 2 3/5 seconds. Secretariat’s 2:24 remains the fastest 1 1/2 miles ever run by a horse on dirt.
Jack Wilson, one of the finest chart-callers of all time, summed it up with these three words he wrote to describe what Secretariat did in Daily Racing Form’s chart of the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Wilson called it “a tremendous performance.”
As for the 1973 Preakness, justice finally prevailed in a 2012 hearing conducted by the Maryland Racing Commission regarding the longstanding controversial final time of that race. For more than two hours, commissioners heard testimony, backed by modern technology, to prove Secretariat’s Preakness time actually was faster than 1:54 2/5.
The evidence was so compelling that the commissioners deliberated for only about 10 minutes before announcing the vote had been 7-0 to change Secretariat’s official Preakness time to 1:53, a stakes record. Consequently, as of 2020, Secretariat is credited with having run the fastest Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in history.
You would think that after the timing originally was so messed up at the 1973 Preakness, Thoroughbred racing would have taken measures to avoid anything like that happening again. But that’s not the case.
In last Saturday’s BC Classic, the richest race to be run in this country this year, there initially were no fractional times listed in the official Equibase chart. The final time was listed as 1:59 (1:59.19). In the chart’s comments, it said: “Due to a timer malfunction, the times were timed manually using video.”
What kind of pace did Authentic set? Fast? Moderate? Slow? Who knew?
Many questioned the official final time of 1:59.19 for the 2020 BC Classic, much like the original official final time of the 1973 Preakness. In this case, even the Trakus system used by Keeneland disagreed with the 1:59.19 clocking. The Trakus system timed the race in 1:59.82.
And now yet another clocking, 1:59.60, has become the official final time for the 2020 BC Classic.
Keeneland and Equibase issued this statement on Nov. 11:
“Prior to the running of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (Gr. 1) on November 7, 2020, at Keeneland, a photo eye at the start of the race originally was tripped, which resulted in an error when attempting to operate the timing system manually causing inaccurate timing for all fractions and the final time of the race. A final time of 1:59.19 was initially provided by Equibase using the available video replay. After subsequent and more detailed review and timing of the race from multiple sources and camera angles, Keeneland and Equibase have determined the fractional times for the Classic (:23.20, :46.48, 1:10.32, 1:34.64) and confirmed a final time of 1:59.60. The Classic chart has been updated and the running of Authentic in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic is now the official track record for the 1 1/4-mile distance at Keeneland.”
Acccording to Keeneland and Equibase, Authentic broke American Pharoah’s track record of 2:00.07 that had been established by the Triple Crown winner when he registered a 6 1/2-length victory in the 2015 BC Classic.
It took Keeneland and Equibase four days to finally come up with fractional times and a final time for this year’s BC Classic (a race ironically sponsored by a company that makes watches).
This is ridiculous. This is embarrassing. This is inexcusable.
Humans can control a rover 48 million miles away on Mars, but seemingly can’t time the 2020 BC Classic without problems.
It would be one thing if the timing problem with the 2020 BC Classic was an isolated case. But it’s not. Timing problems have been rampant all over the country this year, primarily due to a number of tracks embracing a GPS technology that has produced questionable times.
Consider this Sept. 10 Daily Racing Form item regarding Kentucky Downs and Equibase’s Gmax tracking and timing system:
“With extraordinarily swift clockings having been recorded during the first two cards of the Runhappy meet, Kentucky Downs officials said none of the times will count as track records. At least five would-be records were set during the first two cards, including the 1:32.21 run by Flavius in the Tourist Mile on Monday.
“A track release said no clocking during this meet will be recognized as records because the track is testing Equibases Gmax tracking and timing system, which utilizes GPS technology.”
When the powers that be permit America’s most lucrative Thoroughbred race to have an untrustworthy original final time that takes four days to correct, how can horseplayers have confidence in the timing of the thousands of other races run in this country? Time is an important factor for the vast majority of horseplayers when they analyze a horse’s past performances to determine how they are going to bet.
Andrew Beyer questioned Authentic’s original 1:59.19 clocking, just as Beyer did not believe it when he saw 1:55 on the board for Secretariat’s final time at the 1973 Preakness. Beyer’s skepticism in the latter was vindicated first by the two DRF clockers and later by modern technology that proved Secretariat’s final time had been 1:53. Beyer’s skepticism in the former was vindicated when Keeneland and Equibase announced that the original official clocking of 1:59.19 had been changed to 1:59.60.
The difference between 1:59.19 (1:59 flat in fifths) and 1:59.60 (1:59 3/5 in fifths) is significant. To use the longstanding rule of thumb that a fifth of a second equals one length, the difference in the two clockings is two lengths. That’s a lot.
I, for one, am taking race times with a grain of salt these days. I doubt that I’m alone in this regard.
Thoroughbred racing needs to do everything it possible can, as quickly as it can, to restore confidence in the timing of races.
Andrew Beyer has said a GPS system is fine for determining how many feet a horse traveled or other such information. And I agree with Beyer in his belief that until a GPS system becomes reliably accurate, the timing of races, which provides critical information to horseplayers, should be done utilizing what is known as “the beam system,” which has worked well for decades.
As for Authentic’s Beyer Speed Figure for his BC Classic triumph, he originally was credited with a 109. It was then upped to 111.
What Beyer Speed Figure did American Pharoah get when he won the 2015 BC Classic at Keeneland in 2:00.07, a clocking supposedly slower than Authentic’s? American Pharoah received a 120 Beyer for that performance.
TIZ THE LAW DISAPPOINTS BACKERS
Sent off as the 3-1 favorite, Tiz the Law finished sixth in the BC Classic. I did not pick him 1-2-3. A main reason for that was he drew post 2. I thought he might not get a trip to his liking if forced to race inside rivals.
As it turned out, regular rider Manny Franco never could get Tiz the Law to the outside and in the clear, which seems to be the colt’s preference. It appeared to me that Tiz the Law was not enjoying himself in the early furlongs when rank while close up and racing along the inside rail. Tiz the Law, who had been third early, dropped back to fifth on the far turn and lacked a kick in the lane. He lost by 5 1/2 lengths.
Tiz the Law, it’s been said, is better if given more time between races than the four weeks between the Grade I Travers Stakes on Aug. 8 and Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby. He got nine weeks between the Kentucky Derby and BC Classic, yet did not hit the board.
It’s also been said that Tiz the Law is not fond of running on Churchill Downs’ main track. Does he also not like Keeneland’s main track?
Maybe Tiz the Law has an aversion to racing in Kentucky. He’s 0 for 3 in Kentucky and 6 for 6 in other states (Florida and New York).
HORSE OF THE YEAR AND FINAL NTRA POLLS
By virtue of his wins in the Grade III Sham Stakes, Grade II San Felipe Stakes, Grade I Haskell Invitational and, most especially, in the Grade I Kentucky Derby and Grade I BC Classic, Authentic is an overwhelming favorite to be voted 2020 Eclipse Awards as champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year.
Authentic became only the fourth horse to take both the Kentucky Derby and BC Classic in the same year. The others were Sunday Silence in 1989, Unbridled in 1990 and American Pharoah in 2015.
Unfortunately, it already has been announced that Authentic has been retired from racing to begin a stud career next year at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky. In fact, he’s already at Spendthrift, having arrived there Monday morning. Unlike a number of other stallion prospects in recent years, Authentic is not even going to make just one more start in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 23.
I sure would have liked to have seen what Authentic might achieve next year at 4, particularly seeing that he’s a late foal. But now we will never know. Thoroughbred racing continues to have a big problem by having far too many of its champions whisked off to the breeding shed instead of being given an opportunity to continue racing and grow their fan club.
Meanwhile, when I saw the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll of 2020, I immediately noticed something seemed to be amiss. Gamine ranked No. 7 in the NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll, yet she was missing from the Top 10 in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll.
Looking further, I noticed that Gamine supposedly did not receive a single point in the Top Three-Year-Old rankings, which are determined by voters on a 10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. This meant Gamine was not even credited with receiving 7 points she would get from me ranking her No. 4.
I contacted the NTRA regarding Gamine. They looked into it and informed that Gamine actually should be No. 4 in the Top Three-Year-Old Poll. The NTRA then issued a corrected final Top Three-Year-Old Poll.
Here is the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll for 2020:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 355 Authentic (34)
2. 311 Improbable (2)
3. 309 Monomoy Girl (1)
4. 132 Vekoma
5. 111 Swiss Yodeler
6. 107 Tiz the Law
7. 104 Gamine
8. 100 Rushing Fall
9. 97 Whitmore
10. 82 Maximum Security
Also receiving votes: Knicks Go (76 points), Global Campaign (59), Tom’s d’Etat (41), Midnight Bisou (31), Channel Maker (22), By My Standards (20), Essential Quality (10), Code of Honor (9), Serengeti Empress (9), Tacitus (8), Glass Slippers (7), Happy Saver (6), Vequist (5), Volatile (5), Tarnawa (5), Uni (3), United (2), Nashville (2), C Z Rocket (2), Mo Forza (2), Mystic Guide (1), Starship Jubilee (1), Golden Pal (1).
Ironically, Maximum Security finished No. 10 in both the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls of 2019 and 2020.
This was the ballot that I submitted for the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll of 2020:
3. Monomoy Girl
4. Tiz the Law
5. Swiss Skydiver
7. Essential Quality
9. Rushing Fall
Here is the final NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll for 2020:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 370 Authentic (37)
2. 306 Tiz the Law
3. 295 Swiss Skydiver
4. 259 Gamine
5. 185 Happy Saver
6. 115 Honor A.P.
7. 89 Shedaresthedevil
8. 74 Art Collector
9. 62 Jesus’ Team
10. 53 Max Player
Also receiving votes: Mystic Guide (45 points), Nashville (35), Gufo (19), Thousand Words (18), Maxfield (15), Nadal (15), Harvey’s Lil Goil (13), Charlatan (12), Order of Australia (11), King Guillermo (8), Ny Traffic (7), Rushie (5), Mr. Big News (4), Harvest Moon (2), Smooth Like Strait (2), Yaupon (1), Sharing (1), Caracaro (1).
Global Campaign is listed as having received 13 points in the NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll. Global Campaign is a 4-year-old.
This was the ballot that I submitted for the final NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll of 2020:
2. Tiz the Law
3. Swiss Skydiver
5. Happy Saver
7. Order of Australia
8. Honor A.P.
10. Mystic Guide
$4 MILLION TURF (NOV. 7)
Results: (1) Tarnawa, who paid $11.40, (2) Magical, (3) Channel Maker.
Winner: Owned by The Aga Khan; trained by Dermot Weld; ridden by Colin Keane.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 109. Bricks and Mortar won the 2019 BC Turf at Santa Anita with a 104 Beyer. Top Beyer in the Turf: 118 (Daylami in 1999 at Gulfstream Park).
Recap: In my Xpressbet.com selections for this race, I picked it Lord North, Magical, Tarnawa. My “nice-price danger” was Channel Maker, who ran third at 9-1. My comment for Tarnawa: “Dual G1 wins in France for fab horseman.”
The “fab horseman” is 72-year-old Dermot Weld, a two-time winner of the world-famous Melbourne Cup (Vintage Crop in 1993 and Media Puzzle in 2002). Weld also is the only European-based trainer to win an American Triple Crown race, having done so with Go and Go in the 1990 Belmont Stakes.
This was Weld’s first Breeders’ Cup victory. Tarnawa, a 4-year-old Irish-bred Sharmardal filly, rallied from eighth to prevail by one length while completing 1 1/2 miles in 2:28.02 on a turf course classified as firm.
Not only did Tarnawa defeat males in the BC Turf, the classy mare Magical finished second as the 2-1 favorite to complete a female $1 exacta that paid $18.10. Pacesetter Channel Maker held on to finish third in the field of 10.
Earlier in Magical’s career, she finished second to the great Enable in the 2018 BC Turf at Churchill Downs.
Tarnawa came into the BC Turf having won all three of her 2020 starts. After winning a Group III race in Ireland in her first start of the year, she took France’s Group I Prix Vermeille and Group I Prix de l’Opera. Following those performances by Tarnawa, Weld felt that she was the best chance he’d ever had to win a Breeders’ Cup race.
It was a jockey named Keane winning at Keeneland on Tarnawa. Keane replaced Christophe Soumillion, who could not ride at the Breeders’ Cup because of a positive coronavirus test.
How well did Tarnawa run in the BC Turf? Her 109 Beyer was better than the 104 posted by Bricks and Mortar when he won the 2019 edition. Bricks and Mortar was America’s 2019 Horse of the Year.
United, who finished second in the 2019 BC Turf at odds of 51-1, stumbled on the far turn in this year’s renewal and wound up eighth at 8-1. Hall of Famer trainer Richard Mandella reported the following morning that despite the incident on the far turn, United emerged from the race in good order.
“I was worried about that, but we just got him out and jogged him,” said Mandella, who also sent out Bombard to finish eighth at 20-1 in the BC Turf Sprint. “Both of them are in great shape. They both kind of fumbled around on that turf course.”
$2 MILLION DISTAFF (NOV. 7)
Results: (1) Monomoy Girl, who paid $4.00 as the favorite, (2) Valiance, (3) Dunbar Road.
Winner: Owned by Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables; trained by Brad Cox; ridden by Florent Geroux.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 100. Blue Prize won the 2019 BC Distaff at Santa Anita with a 103 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Distaff: 120 (Princess Rooney in 1984).
Recap: Win-machine Monomoy Girl registered a second BC Distaff victory. She took the 2018 renewal, missed all of 2019, then got the job done last Saturday to complete a perfect five-for-five 2020 campaign.
A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred Tapizar mare, Monomoy Girl raced wide on both turns and won by 1 3/4 lengths. Her final time was 1:47.84. Valiance finished second, while Dunbar Road ended up third in the field of 10.
Monomoy Girl now has finished first in 14 of 15 lifetime starts. She lost the Grade II Golden Rod Stakes by a neck at Churchill Downs in 2017 and was disqualified from first to second in the Grade I Cotillion at Parx Racing in 2018.
The second favorite in the BC Distaff at 2-1 was 3-year-old star Swiss Skydiver, who was coming off a neck victory in a rousing edition of the Preakness Stakes when she edged Kentucky Derby winner and future BC Classic winner Authentic.
But Swiss Skydiver, ridden by Robby Albarado, stumbled at the start of the BC Distaff and finished seventh.
“It maybe cost her a length or two postion-wise, but it didn’t cost us the win,” Albarado said candidly in reference to Swiss Skydiver stumbling at the start.
Another contributing factor to Swiss Skydiver’s 8 1/4-length defeat last Saturday could have been that a busy 2020 campaign in which she raced at nine different tracks from coast to coast might have finally caught up with her.
Monomoy Girl was one of four winners for trainer Brad Cox at this year’s Breeders’ Cup. The others were Aunt Pearl, Essential Quality and Knicks Go.
Cox became the second to train four winners at a single Breeders’ Cup. Richard Mandella won four races at the 2003 Breeders’ Cup when it was a one-day event consisting of just eight races.
Incidentally, in the Breeders’ Cup Wager Guide presented by 1/ST BET, I had a $5 exacta of Monomoy Girl over Valiance among my $100 in wagers. This produced a payoff of $106.50, which means I showed a profit of $6.50. I’m glad that anyone who played my $100 in wagers did come away with a profit, albeit a very small one.
$2 MILLION MILE (NOV. 7)
Results: (1) Order of Australia, who paid $148.40, (2) Circus Maximus, (3) Lope Y Fernandez.
Winner: Owned by Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Mrs. Anne Marie O’Brien; trained by Aidan O’Brien; ridden by Pierre-Charles Boudot.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 105. Uni won the 2019 BC Mile at Santa Anita with a 106 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Mile: 119 (Miesque in 1987 at Hollywood Park).
Recap: Along with Kurt Hoover, I was co-host of Santa Anita’s simulcast commentary from the paddock at the 1993 Breeders’ Cup. The two of us handled the paddock commentary for all of the races that day, including the Breeders’ Cup events. These days there is a large group of commentators for the simulcast of the Breeders’ Cup races.
One of my many memories from that hot afternoon was the sound heard when gigantic longshot Arcangues won the BC Classic. There was virtually no sound, despite there being a crowd of 55,130. People were in such a state of shock that you could have heard a pin drop.
I was not at Keeneland for this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Not too many people were, either. Because of the coronavirus, this was the first Breeders’ Cup contested without the general public allowed.
But even if a big crowd had been on hand, I imagine that, like Arcangues in 19993, it would have been pretty darn quite when Order of Australia crossed the finish line in front by a neck.
Arcangues paid $269.20 for each $2 win ticket. It remains a Breeders’ Cup record. Order of Australia paid $148.40. It’s the second-highest win mutuel in Breeders’ Cup history.
Order of Australia was fortunate to even start in the BC Mile. Originally relegated to the also-eligible list by the selection committee, Order of Australia got into the race when One Master was withdrawn. Daily Racing Form reported that One Master was scratched “because of persistently elevated muscle enzymes. The elevated enzyme levels can produce a condition known as tying up, a locking of muscles that restricts movement, and that is what happened to One Master the first day she trained at Keeneland this week, according to trainer William Haggas.”
It’s perfectly understandable why Order of Australia was virtually ignored by horseplayers. The 3-year-old colt by the Galileo stallion Australia was coming off a 47 3/4-length loss in a Group III race in Ireland.
This year’s BC Mile produced a 1-2-3 finish by Aidan O’Brien-trained runners. Order of Australia, off at odds of 73-1, completed one mile in 1:33.73 on a turf course rated as firm. Circus Maximus ran second at 11-1 and Lope Y Fernandez finished third at 18-1 in the field of 14.
The lukewarm 5-1 favorite, Kameko, came in seventh. Uni finished fifth at 6-1 after having won the 2019 BC Mile at Santa Anita.
$2 MILLION SPRINT (NOV. 7)
Results: (1) Whitmore, who paid $38.80, (2) C Z Rocket, (3) Firenze Fire.
Winner: Owned by Robert LaPenta, Ron Moquette and Head of Plains Partners; trained by Ron Moquette; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 104. Mitole won the 2019 BC Sprint at Santa Anita with a 112 Beyer. Top Beyer in the Sprint and the top Beyer in Breeders’ Cup history: 125 (Precisionist in 1985).
Recap: This was one of the most popular victories at this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
For Whitmore, described as being a “big, old, grumpy gelding” by co-owner and trainer Ron Moquette, the fourth time was the charm.
Whereas Authentic now is exiting the racing stage at the age of 3, Whitmore has been around long enough to develop a legion of fans. At age 7 in his 38th career start, Whitmore rallied from 10th in the field of 14 to win this year’s six-furlong BC Sprint by a convincing 3 1/4 lengths in 1:08.61.
In previous BC Sprints, Whitmore had finished eighth at Del Mar in 2017, second at Churchill Downs in 2018, then third at Santa Anita in 2019.
Whitmore is a Kentucky-bred Pleasantly Perfect gelding. Pleasantly Perfect won the BC Classic at Santa Anita in 2003.
Vekoma had been installed as the 3-1 morning-line favorite in this year’s BC Sprint, but was scratched after spiking a temperature four days before the race.
$2 MILLION FILLY & MARE TURF (NOV. 7)
Results: (1) Audarya, who paid $37.60, (2) Rushing Fall, (3) Harvey’s Lil Goil.
Winner: Owned by Mrs. A.M. Swinburn; trained by James Fanshawe; ridden by Pierre-Charles Boudot.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 103. Iridessa won the 2019 BC Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita with a 105 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Filly & Mare Turf: 112 (Banks Hill in 2001).
Recap: This year’s Group I Prix de l’Opera on the Group I Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe undercard on Oct. 4 proved a productive race vis-a-vis the subsequent Breeders’ Cup.
Prix de l’Opera winner Tarnawa took the BC Turf. Audarya, who finished third in the Prix de l’Opera, won the BC Filly & Mare Turf.
Ioritz Mendizabal was supposed to ride Audarya at the Breeders’ Cup, but he could not travel to the U.S. from Europe after testing positive for coronavirus. That opened the door for Pierre-Charles Boudot to win the BC Filly & Mare Turf aboard 17-1 Audarya in addition to taking the BC Mile on 73-1 longshot Order of Australia.
Audarya, seventh early, generated the necessary late kick to prevail by a neck. Rushing Fall, the 5-2 BC Filly & Mare Turf favorite, finished second. Harvey’s Lil Goil ended up third in the field of 14. Starship Jubilee stumbled badly at the start and unseated jockey Florent Geroux. Starship Jubilee has been retired from racing.
This was a tough loss for Rushing Fall in her farewell appearance under silks. She had a half-length lead with a furlong to run, but could not quite outfinish Audarya. This 1 3/16-mile trip was just slightly farther than Rushing Fall wants. She retires having won 11 of 15 lifetime starts while winning Grade I races at ages 2, 3, 4 and again this year at 5.
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has won eight Breeders’ Cup races. Trainer James Fanshawe, an erstwhile assistant to Sir Michael Stoute, conditions Audarya. The 4-year-old French-bred Wootton Bassett filly completed 1 3/16 miles on a firm turf course in 1:52.72 last Saturday to break the course record of 1:53.01 set by Speedy Solution on July 11.
$1 MILLION DIRT MILE (NOV. 7)
Results: (1) Knicks Go, who paid $5.60 as the favorite, (2) Jesus’ Team, (3) Sharp Samurai.
Winner: Owned by Korea Racing Group.; trained by Brad Cox; ridden by Joel Rosario.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 108. Spun to Run won the 2019 BC Dirt Mile at Santa Anita with a 109 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Dirt Mile: 119 (Corinthian in 2007).
Recap: The metamorphosis in Knicks Go’s form has been quite dramatic since Brad Cox took over the training of the 4-year-old Maryland-bred Paynter colt prior to his 2020 debut at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 22.
Knicks Go had lost 10 in a row for trainer Ben Colebrook prior to a 7 1/2-length win in an allowance/optional claiming contest on Feb. 22.
In Knicks Go’s next start, he romped to a 10 1/4-length win in an allowance/optional claiming affair Oct. 4 at Keeneland. His final time of 1:40.79 that day broke the track record.
And then Knicks Go won the BC Dirt Mile in front-running fashion by 3 1/2 lengths while setting another track record. His final time of 1:33.85 on a lightning-fast strip bettered the one-mile mark of 1:34.54 established by Liam’s Map when he won the 2015 BC Dirt Mile.
Jesus’ Team finished second in the BC Dirt Mile, while Sharp Samurai ran third in the field of 12. This was the second straight race in which Jesus’ Team earned a minor award at a big price. He finished third at 40-1 in the Preakness, then was an even bigger 62-1 last Saturday.
When trained by Colebrook, Knicks Go was good enough as a 2-year-old to finish second behind Game Winner in the BC Juvenile at Churchill Downs.
$1 MILLION TURF SPRINT (NOV. 7)
Results: (1), Glass Slippers, who paid $22.40, (2) Wet Your Whistle, (3) Leinster.
Winner: Owned by Bearstone Stud Limited; trained by Kevin Ryan; ridden by Tom Eaves.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 104. Belvoir Bay won the 2019 BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita with a 107 Beyer. Previous top Beyer in the BC Turf Sprint: 119 (Stormy Liberal in 2018).
Recap: Trainer Peter Miller’s remarkable three-year winning streak in this race came to an end when Euro invader Glass Slippers uncorked a furiously rally from 10th to win this roughly run race in which several horses in the field of 14 encountered trouble in the stretch.
A 4-year-old Great Britain-bred Dream Ahead filly trained by Kevin Ryan, Glass Slippers completed her 5 1/2-furlong journey on a grass course listed as good in 1:01.53.
Glass Slippers became the first European-based runner to win the BC Turf Sprint, which was introduced in 2008.
$1 MILLION FILLY & MARE SPRINT (NOV. 7)
Results: (1), Gamine, who paid $4.20 as the favorite, (2) Serengeti Empress, (3) Bell’s the One.
Winner: Owned by Michael Petersen; trained by Bob Baffert; ridden by John Velazquez.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 110. Covfefe won the 2019 BC Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita with a 106 Beyer. Top previous Beyer in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint: 108 (Groupie Doll in 2012 at Santa Anita).
Recap: Bar of Gold paid $135.40 for a $2 win ticket when she took this race in 2017 at Del Mar.
Shamrock Rose returned $53.80 for a $2 win wager when she was victorious in this race in 2018 at Churchill Downs.
After upsets in 2017 and 2018, favorites have won back-to-back BC Filly & Mare Sprints. Covfefe was victorious in 2019 at odds of 3-2. Gamine trounced her seven rivals this year, coming from just off the pace to win by 6 1/4 lengths as the 11-10 wagering choice in the field of eight.
When Gamine won in scintillating fashion last Saturday, she became the third straight 3-year-old to defeat her elders in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint, following Shamrock Rose in 2018 and Covfefe in 2019. Older distaffers had won the first 11 editions of this race since it was launched in 2007.
Gamine has won all four of her races around one turn (her debut at 6 1/2 furlongs by 6 1/4 lengths at Santa Anita, Belmont Park’s Grade I Acorn at one mile by 18 3/4 lengths, Saratoga’s Grade I Test Stakes at seven furlongs by seven lengths, plus the seven-furlong BC Filly & Mare Sprint at Keeneland).
With a final time last Saturday of 1:20.20, Gamine smashed Keeneland’s track record of 1:21.32 set by Taris in 2014.
Gamine was the only 2020 Breeders’ Cup winner to break the record for highest Beyer Speed Figure in the various races. Gamine’s 110 Beyer ranks as the second-highest figure by a winner at this year’s Breeders’ Cup, exceeded only by Authentic’s 111 in the BC Classic.
$2 MILLION JUVENILE (NOV. 6)
Results: (1) Essential Quality, who paid $9.40, (2) Hot Rod Charlie, (3) Keepmeinmind.
Winner: Owned by Godolphin; trained by Brad Cox; ridden by Luis Saez.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 95. Storm the Court won the 2019 BC Juvenile at Santa Anita with an 87 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile: 113 (War Pass in 2007 at Monmouth Park).
Recap: Essential Quality once again showed his quality by rallying from eighth to win by three-quarters of a length. The Kentucky-bred Tapit colt’s final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:42.09.
Sent off as the second favorite, Essential Quality remained undefeated in three starts. He was coming off a 3 1/4-length triumph in Keeneland’s Grade I Breeders’ Futurity after overcoming a troubled trip to win a maiden race by four lengths when unveiled at Churchill Downs.
Hot Rod Charlie finished second in the BC Juvenile at odds of 94-1, while the maiden Keepmeinmind came in third at 30-1. Hot Rod Charlie went into the Breeders’ Cup off a maiden win at Santa Anita on Oct. 2 in his fourth career start.
Jackie’s Warrior was bet down to 9-10 BC Juvenile favoritism, but he had to settle for fourth in his first start outside New York and first try around two turns.
$1 MILLION JUVENILE FILLIES TURF (NOV. 6)
Results: (1) Aunt Pearl, who paid $7.20 as the favorite, (2) Mother Earth, (3) Miss Amulet.
Winner: Owned by Michael Dubb and Madaket Stables; trained by Brad Cox; ridden by Florent Geroux.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 91. Sharing won the 2019 BC Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita with an 86 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf: 96 (Lady Eli in 2014 and Newspaperofrecord in 2018).
Recap: Seizing the lead at once, Aunt Pearl led her 13 rivals on a merry chase and won by a clear margin. The Irish-bred Lope de Vega youngster completed one mile on a turf course labeled as good in 1:35.72.
Aunt Pearl’s 2 1/2-length BC Juvenile Fillies Turf was preceded by a victory in Keeneland’s Grade II Jessamine Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the grass Oct. 7. In her only other start, she won a one-mile maiden race by five lengths on the turf Sept. 1 at Churchill Downs.
$2 MILLION JUVENILE FILLIES (NOV. 6)
Results: (1) Vequist, who paid $15.20, (2) Dayoutoftheoffice, (3) Girl Daddy.
Winner: Owned by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Swilcan Stable; trained by Butch Reid; ridden by Joel Rosario.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 93. British Idiom won the 2019 BC Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita with a 79 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Fillies: 107 (Tempera in 2001).
Recap: Like father, like daughter.
Nyquist won the 2015 BC Juvenile at Keeneland. His daughter Vequist won the 2020 BC Juvenile Fillies at the same venue.
This year’s BC Juvenile Fillies lured four undefeated fillies: Princess Noor (the 9-5 favorite), Simply Ravishing (2-1), Dayoutoftheoffice (4-1) and Girl Daddy (5-1).
Vequist had won once in three starts going into the Breeders’ Cup. In her most recent start before the BC Juvenile Fillies, she had finished second, two lengths behind Dayoutoftheoffice, in Belmont Park’s Grade I Frizette Stakes around one turn on Oct. 10.
In stalk mode early, Vequist came on along the inside rail in the lane, took the lead in the final furlong and drew clear to reach the finish two lengths in front while completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.30. Dayoutoftheoffice, who led by one length at the eighth pole, finished second in the field of seven. Girl Daddy came in third, a nose behind Dayoutoftheoffice. Simply Ravishing ended up fourth, a nose behind Girl Daddy.
Much had been made of Princess Noor’s moderate Beyer Speed Figures of 76, 79 and 78 going into the Breeders’ Cup. She had won all three races in Southern California without being asked for run late by margins of 2 1/2, 6 1/2 and 8 1/4 lengths.
From a Beyer Speed Figure standpoint, Princess Noor ran the best race of her life to date in the BC Juvenile Fillies by recording an 85. But it was not good enough to be part of the superfecta. Princess Noor finished fifth.
As for Vequist, she recorded a 72 Beyer Speed Figure in her career debut (a narrow loss at Parx Racing), followed by an 83, then a 91, then the 93 she received for her BC Juvenile Fillies victory.
$1 MILLION JUVENILE TURF (NOV. 6)
Results: (1) Fire At Will, who paid $62.40, (2) Battleground, (3) Outadore.
Winner: Owned by Three Diamonds Farm; trained by Mike Maker; ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 90. Structor won the 2019 BC Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita with a 79 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Turf: 93 (Donativum in 2008, Outstrip in 2013, Oscar Performance in 2016).
Recap: Trainer Mike Maker has been magical in terms of winning important races with longshots. Fire At Will is the latest example.
Neglected by bettors to the tune of 30-1 despite coming off a win in the Grade II Pilgrim Stakes on the turf Oct. 3 at Belmont Park, Fire At Will raced a close-up third early and won the BC Juvenile Turf by three emphatic lengths.
A Kentucky-bred Declaration of War colt, Fire At Will completed one mile on a turf course rated as good in 1:35.81. European shipper Battleground, the 7-2 favorite, finished second. Outadore ended up third in the field of 14.
$1 MILLION JUVENILE TURF SPRINT (NOV. 6)
Results: (1) Golden Pal, who paid $3.60 as the favorite, (2) Cowan, (3) Ubettabelieveit.
Winner: Owned by Ranlo Investments; trained by Wesley Ward; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 90. Four Wheel Drive won the 2019 BC Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita with an 86 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Turf Sprint: 90 (Bulletin in 2018, Golden Pal in 2020).
Recap: Golden Pal is a Kentucky-bred with lots of Breeders’ Cup blood coursing through his veins. He is a son of Uncle Mo and the Midshipman mare Lady Shipman.
Uncle Mo won the 2010 BC Juvenile. Lady Shipman nearly won the 2015 BC Turf Sprint when she finished second and lost by a neck to Mongolian Saturday. Midshipman won the 2008 BC Juvenile.
Breaking from post 13 in the field of 14, Golden Pal left the starting gate like a Quarter Horse dashing 350 yards and went on to win by three-quarters of a length. He completed 5 1/2 furlongs on a turf course listed as good in 1:02.82.
I was so impressed by Golden Pal that I made him my most probable winner at this year’s Breeders’ Cup in my Xpressbet.com selections. He did not let me down. My most probable Breeders’ Cup winner now has won in 13 of the 17 last years. These are my most probable Breeders’ Cup winners going back to 2004:
2020 Golden Pal in the BC Juvenile Turf (won)
2019 Midnight Bisou in the BC Distaff (finished second)
2018 Newspaperofrecord in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (won)
2017 Bolt d’Oro in the Juvenile (finished third)
2016 Dortmund in the Dirt Mile (finished fourth)
2015 Songbird in the Juvenile Fillies (won)
2014 Goldencents in the Dirt Mile (won)
2013 Wise Dan in the Mile (won)
2012 Groupie Doll in the Filly & Mare Sprint (won)
2011 Goldikova in the Mile (won)
2010 Goldikova in the Mile (won)
2009 Zenyatta in the Classic (won)
2008 Zenyatta in the Ladies’ Classic (won)
2007 Midnight Lute in the Sprint (won)
2006 Ouija Board in the Filly & Mare Turf (won)
2005 Ouija Board in the Filly & Mare Turf (finished second)
2004 Ouija Board in the Filly & Mare Turf (won)
The Juvenile Turf Sprint kicked off this year’s Breeders’ Cup action at Keeneland. The 38th Breeders’ Cup will be held next year at Del Mar on Nov. 5-6. It then returns to Keeneland in 2022 on Nov. 4-5.