VENUE: Del Mar on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4
Main Track: dirt, fast Friday and Saturday; Turf Course: firm Friday and Saturday.
$6 MILLION CLASSIC (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Gun Runner, who paid $6.80, (2) Collected, (3) West Coast.
Winner: Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds & Three Chimneys Farm; trained by Steve Asmussen; ridden by Florent Geroux.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 117. Arrogate won the 2014 BC Classic at Santa Anita with a 120 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Classic: 124 (Sunday Silence in 1989 at Gulfstream Park, Ghostzapper in 2004 at Lone Star Park).
Recap: Gun Runner exited the gate in fine fashion and set the pace (:22.50, 46.31, 1:10.50, 1:35.03) while racing along the inside rail. All through the early stages of this 1 1/4-mile affair, however, Gun Runner had Collected breathing down his neck. These two were well clear of the other nine starters on the far turn, with $2.10-to-$1 favorite Arrogate languishing “a long, long way back and not doing anything,” as Del Mar track announcer Trevor Denman put it.
Coming into the stretch, it appeared Gun Runner and Collected were going to battle it out all the way down the stretch (a la Beholder and Songbird in an epic 2016 BC Distaff). “It looks like we’re in for a classic in the Classic,” said Denman.
But before Denman could finish that sentence, just as they were approaching the eighth pole, Gun Runner began to put away Collected. Gun Runner increased his advantage to a length with a furlong to go. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt then gradually increased his lead the rest of the way to prevail by 2 1/4 lengths in 2:01.29. Collected ended up second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of third-place West Coast. War Story came in fourth. Arrogate and Gunnevera finished in a dead heat for fifth, followed in order by Churchill, Mubtaahij, War Decree, Pavel and Win the Space.
It was Arrogate’s third straight defeat after he had put together a fantastic four-race winning streak consisting of the 2016 Travers (when he smashed Saratoga’s 38-year-old 1 1/4-mile track record by four-fifths of a second), 2016 BC Classic (when a powerful late surge carried him to victory over California Chrome at Santa Anita), 2017 Pegasus World Cup (when he broke the 1 1/8-mile track record at Gulfstream Park) and 2017 Dubai World Cup (when he overcame a horrible start to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths while Terry Spargo said during his call of the race that “we’ve seen the anointing of the Man o’ War of the 21st century”).
However, after the Dubai World Cup, for whatever reason or reasons, the “Man o’War of the 21st century” lost his next three starts -- all on Del Mar’s main track -- before heading off to stud.
Following Arrogate’s sensational victory in Dubai, he lost the Grade II San Diego Handicap by 15 1/4 lengths as a 1-20 favorite on July 22 at Del Mar. Then he finished second, a half-length behind Collected, in the Grade I Pacific Classic on Aug. 19 at Del Mar when he was a 3-5 favorite.
There was much talk that Arrogate appeared to be training like the “real” Arrogate going into this year’s BC Classic. I was skeptical. I felt that Arrogate had trained much better into the 2016 BC Classic. Even so, I did have enough respect for him to pick him second behind West Coast in this year’s BC Classic, with Gun Runner my third choice.
Breaking from post 1, Arrogate ducked inward toward the rail in the opening strides, then never threatened. What was kind of strange, I thought, was that he actually galloped out in front after the finish, passing even Gun Runner.
While Arrogate fizzled during the second half of 2017, Gun Runner reeled off four consecutive Grade I victories following his loss to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup on March 25. Gun Runner won the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs by seven lengths on June 17, Whitney at Saratoga by 5 1/4 lengths on Aug. 5 and Woodward at Saratoga by 10 1/4 lengths on Sept. 2 prior to the BC Classic.
Why wasn’t Gun Runner my choice to win the BC Classic? I did not like the fact he was zero for three in races at 1 1/4 miles. Arrogate beat Gun Runner by 15 lengths in the 1 1/4-mile Travers. In the Dubai World Cup at about 1 1/4 miles, even though Arrogate was far back early after a poor start, he zoomed right by Gun Runner in the stretch.
But, in retrospect, I should not have been so leery about Gun Runner being able to win the 1 1/4-mile BC Classic. I should have taken into consideration what his sire once did in a 1 1/4-mile race at Del Mar. In the 2003 Pacific Classic, Candy Ride ran 1 1/4 miles on the dirt at Del Mar in 1:59.11 to win with authority by 3 1/4 lengths while setting a track record that still stands. (Finishing second in that 2003 Pacific Classic was Medaglia d’Oro, sire of 2017 Breeders’ Cup winners Talismanic and Bar of Gold.)
In this year’s BC Classic, not only did Gun Runner prove he could win a race at 1 1/4 miles, his performance was all the more impressive because the inside part of Del Mar’s main track did not seem the place to be either Friday or Saturday. This demonstrated once again that a really top horse can succeed despite an apparent track bias.
Gun Runner was the unanimous top gun in the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll of 2017. I was glad that Gun Runner received all of the first-place votes. I honestly did not see how a case could be made to vote for anybody else as No. 1.
Here is the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll of 2017:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
- 400 Gun Runner (40)
- 322 Collected
- 265 Forever Unbridled
- 243 World Approval
- 219 West Coast
- 205 Arrogate
- 128 Beach Patrol
- 97 Abel Tasman
- 95 Roy H
- 63 Lady Eli
Also receiving votes: Battle of Midway (43 points), Stellar Wind (22), Bolt d’Oro (15), Good Magic (14), Elate (9), Drefong (7), Rushing Fall (7), Lady Aurelia (6), Gunnevera (6), Talismanic (5), Diversify (5), Wuheida (4), Always Dreaming (4), Unique Bella (4), Mor Spirit (4), Mind Your Biscuits (3), Sharp Azteca (2), War Story (1), Mendelssohn (1), Disco Partner (1).
Going into this year’s Breeders’ Cup, Gun Runner was No. 1, Arrogate was No. 2 and Collected was No. 3. But ever since Collected had defeated Arrogate in the Pacific Classic, I had been voting for Collected at No. 2 and Arrogate at No. 3 behind No. 1 Gun Runner. In my opinion, Collected had earned a higher spot than Arrogate not only because of how they finished in the Pacific Classic, but because Collected had not been beaten this year. I was glad to see that Collected finished No. 2 in the final 2017 poll.
This was the ballot that I submitted for the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll of 2017:
- Gun Runner
- World Approval
- Forever Unbridled
- West Coast
- Abel Tasman
- Roy H
- Beach Patrol
- Lady Eli
The $3.3 million that Gun Runner received for his BC Classic victory increased his career earnings to almost $9 million. According to Equibase, these are the 12 leading money-winning Thoroughbreds to have made at least one start in North America through Nov. 4:
Rank Earnings Horse
- $17,422,600 Arrogate
- $14,752,650 California Chrome
- $11,443,812 Espoir City
- $10,501,800 Curlin
- $ 9,999,815 Cigar
- $ 9,616,360 Skip Away
- $ 9,589,910 Flintshire
- $ 9,258,355 Gloria de Campeao
- $ 9,216,658 Highland Reel
10.$ 8,988,500 Gun Runner
11.$ 8,696,325 So You Think
12 $ 8,650,300 American Pharoah
Arrogate ranks No. 3 on the world’s list of the wealthiest Thoroughbreds of all time, behind Orfevre ($19,005,276) and Gentildonna ($18,468,392).
$4 MILLION TURF (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Talismanic, who paid $30.20, (2) Beach Patrol, (3) Highland Reel.
Winner: Owned by Godolphin Stable; trained by Andre Fabre; ridden by Mickael Barzalona.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 108. Highland Reel won the 2016 BC Turf at Santa Anita with a 112 Beyer. Top Beyer in the Turf: 118 (Daylami in 1999 at Gulfstream Park).
Recap: Fifth in the early stages, Talismanic rallied to win by a half-length while completing 1 1/2 miles in 2:26.19. The 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt, bred in Great Britain, broke Del Mar’s 1 1/2-mile grass course record of 2:27.35 set by Finnegans Wake on Nov. 27, 2014.
Talismanic’s record shows he has a definite preference for firm ground, which was what he got in the BC Turf. Talismanic’s 2017 record on firm turf now is three for three, while he is zero for four this year when racing on something other than firm ground.
Thirteen started in this year’s BC Turf after Ulysses, the 7-2 morning-line favorite, was withdrawn. Ulysses did not run due “to a small amount of inflammation in his left fetlock,” said Dr. Scott Palmer, the American Association of Equine Practioners on-call veterinarian.
Beach Patrol ran well to finish second, a neck in front of Highland Reel. Beach Patrol very nearly made it three Grade I wins in a row after having taken the Arlington Million in August and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in September. Highland Reel returned for the 2017 BC Turf and was the 7-5 favorite after having won it in 2016.
Highland Reel was one of the many betting choices to lose at this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Mendelssohn ($11.60) in the BC Juvenile Turf and World Approval ($7.40) in the BC Mile were the only two wagering choices who won.
Not only did favorites lose 11 of the 13 Breeders’ Cup races this year, they were, more often than not, well beaten. The average finish by the 13 favorites was sixth.
But favorites did twice as well as they did at the 2016 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. The only Breeders’ Cup favorite to win last year was Obviously, who took the Turf Sprint and paid $9.60.
At the 2016 and 2017 Breeders’ Cups combined, the percentage of winning favorites is a dismal 11.5%.
$2 MILLION JUVENILE (Nov. 4)
Results: (1) Good Magic, who paid $25, (2) Solomini, (3) Bolt d’Oro.
Winner: Owned by e Five Racing Thoroughbreds & Stonestreet Stables; trained by Chad Brown; ridden by Jose Ortiz.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 100. Nyquist won the 2016 BC Juvenile at Santa Anita with a 102 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile: 113 (War Pass in 2007 at Monmouth Park).
Recap: Good Magic made history. He became the first maiden to ever win this race.
Good Magic lurked within close range of the lead in the early going, came on to take command entering the stretch and widened in the last furlong to win by 4 1/4 lengths. Solomini, a pace factor from the start, finished second in the field of 12. Bolt d’Oro, the 3-5 favorite, came in third, one length behind Solomini.
This was Good Magic’s third career start. It was his first race around two turns. Good Magic had finished second in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden sprint at Saratoga on Aug. 26, then ran second to Firenze Fire in the one-mile Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 7.
Yes, Good Magic was a maiden going into this race. But he was not your typical maiden. He is listed as having been purchased for $1 million as a yearling at Keeneland. Good Magic sold more as a yearling than Solomini ($270,000) and Bolt d’Oro ($630,000) combined.
Good Magic is a Kentucky-bred son of Curlin and the Hard Spun mare Glinda the Good. With that pedigree, it should come as no surprise to see Good Magic win a Breeders’ Cup race. Curlin and Hard Spun finished one-two in the 2007 BC Classic on a sloppy track at Monmouth Park.
Bolt d’Oro had a ridiculously wide trip after breaking from post 11. For me, his extremely wide journey conjured up memories of a similar one by a filly in a Grade I race a decade ago. Rags to Riches found herself parked quite wide throughout the entire Grade I Las Virgenes at Santa Anita in 2007, yet she won anyway by three-quarters of a length.
To win despite that trip was a tip-off that Rags to Riches was a special filly. She would go on to win the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, Grade I Kentucky Oaks and a thrilling Grade I Belmont Stakes by a head over Curlin. Rags to Riches, who should be in the Hall of Fame, was voted a 2007 Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly.
Bolt d’Oro lost the BC Juvenile by 5 1/4 lengths and recorded a 91 Beyer Speed Figure. According to Trakus, Bolt d’Oro traveled 78 feet or approximately nine lengths farther than Good Magic.
According to Andy Beyer, when Bolt d’Oro won the Grade I FrontRunner by 7 3/4 lengths at Santa Anita on Sept. 30, the colt’s “raw Beyer figure” was 113. But Beyer arbitrarily lowered it to 100 in the belief that 113 was way out of whack. No doubt Beyer now does take solace in the fact that Bolt d’Oro did not run anything close to a 113 in the BC Juvenile.
But I believe Bolt d’Oro’s 91 Beyer in the BC Juvenile actually is a very good figure under the circumstances. First, he had every right to regress or bounce big-time off his gigantic raw FrontRunner figure of 113. Second, Bolt d’Oro’s BC Juvenile figure of 91 does not take into account his very wide trip. How wide of a trip a horse has is something taken into consideration when Thoro-Graph formulates a figure, which is one of the reasons I believe Thoro-Graph figures are superior to Beyer Speed Figures.
Bolt d’Oro was my choice as the most probable winner at this year’s Breeders’ Cup. I began writing this column for Xpressbet in 2004. Here is my most probable BC winner going back to 2004:
2017 Bolt d’Oro in the Juvenile (finished third)
2016 Dortmund in the Dirt Mile (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 (second)
2004 Ouija Board in the Filly & Mare Turf (won)
$2 MILLION MILE (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) World Approval, who paid $7.40, (2) Lancaster Bomber, (3) Blackjackcat.
Winner: Owned by Live Oak Plantation; trained by Mark Casse; ridden by John Velazquez.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 107. Tourist won the 2016 BC Mile at Santa Anita with a 108 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Mile: 119 (Miesque in 1987 at Hollywood Park).
Recap: World Approval has become a force in mile grass races.
In his first 19 starts on the grass, all in races longer than one mile, he won eight times. That is good. In his most recent three starts on the grass, all in races at one mile, he has won three times. That is perfect.
In World Approval’s first start at one mile on the grass, he won the Grade I Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga by 2 1/4 lengths on yielding turf Aug. 12. That was followed by a 2 1/2-length victory on firm turf Sept. 18 in the Grade I Woodbine Mile when his final time was an excellent 1:33.05.
And then World Approval made it a three-peat in one-mile grass races when victorious in the BC Mile. Fifth early, he prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:34.55. Lancaster Bomber finished second, while Blackjackcat ended up third in the field of 14.
This was Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez’s 15th win in a Breeders’ Cup race. He also had won Friday’s BC Distaff aboard Forever Unbridled. Velazquez now is tied for second with retired Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey on the list of the most all-time Breeders’ Cup victories by a jockey. Mike Smith, another Hall of Famer, tops the list with 26 wins.
World Approval, by Northern Afleet, is from the remarkable With Approval mare Win Approval.
Win Approval now has produced a pair of BC Mile winners. Miesque’s Approval, by Miesque’s Son, won the 2006 BC Mile and was voted an Eclipse Award as champion male turf horse of 2006.
Za Approval, a son of Ghostzapper and Win Approval, finished second to Wise Dan in the 2013 BC Mile.
$1.5 MILLION SPRINT (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Roy H, who paid $11.80, (2) Imperial Hint, (3) Mind Your Biscuits.
Winner: Owned by Rockingham Ranch & David Bernsen; trained by Peter Miller; ridden by Kent Desormeaux.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 111. Drefong won the 2016 BC Sprint at Santa Anita with a 103 Beyer. Top Beyer in the Sprint and the top Beyer in Breeders’ Cup history: 125 (Precisionist in 1985).
Recap: Roy H, a close-up third early, stepped six furlongs in 1:08.61 to win this race by one length. Imperial Hint, who was a pace factor from the beginning, finished second. Mind Your Biscuits came in third, two lengths behind Imperial Hint. Mind Your Biscuits also finished third in the 2016 BC Sprint.
A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of More Than Ready, Roy H won only one of his first 10 career starts. He then became a gelding. In Roy H’s first start as a gelding, he finished fourth in a five-furlong grass dash at the 2016 Del Mar summer meet. It would be his final start of the year.
Co-owner Gary Hartunian races as Rockingham Ranch. Roy H is named after Hartunian’s late grandfather.
Roy H has won five of six starts this year, but he really should be six for six. His lone 2017 defeat came when he finished second to Ransom the Moon in the Grade I Bing Crosby at Del Mar on July 29. Roy H was carried out extremely wide coming into the stretch by a riderless Drefong that day. Roy H actually did well just to finish second.
In addition to the BC Sprint, Roy H’s other 2017 graded stakes victories came in the Grade II True North at Belmont on June 9 and Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 7.
$2 MILLION FILLY & MARE TURF (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Wuheida, who paid $24.40, (2) Rhododendron, (3) Cambodia.
Winner: Owned by Godolphin Stable; trained by Charlie Appleby; ridden by William Buick.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 104. Queen’s Trust won the 2016 BC Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita with a 104 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Filly & Mare Turf: 112 (Banks Hill in 2001).
Recap: Wuheida sat third early, responded when the real test came and won by one length while completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.91. Rhododendron finished second, with Cambodia third. Rhododendron was coming off a victory in the Group I Prix de l’Opera in France, a race in which Wuheida finished fourth. Cambodia had won a pair of Grade II stakes races on the grass, the Yellow Ribbon Handicap and John C. Mabee, during the summer meet at Del Mar.
Queen’s Trust won the 2016 BC Filly & Mare Turf when it was contested at 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita. She finished fifth in this year’s renewal.
Lady Eli finished second in this race last year when she lost by a nose as the 8-5 favorite. Backed down to 3-2 favoritism this time, she finished seventh after being knocked around in traffic early. In what already had been announced as Lady Eli’s final career start, she emerged from the race with a number of nasty cuts on her hind legs.
Wuheida, a 3-year-old who was facing older rivals in the BC Filly & Mare Turf, had missed the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 14 because of a minor foot injury. The Dubawi filly, bred in Great Britian, was winless in four 2017 starts prior to the Breeders’ Cup. She had won the Group I Prix Marcel Boussac in France last year.
$1 MILLION FILLY & MARE SPRINT (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Bar of Gold, who paid $135.40, (2) Ami’s Mesa, (3) Carina Mia.
Winner: Owned by Chester & Mary Broman; trained by John Kimmel; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 94. Finest City won the 2016 BC Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita with a 94 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint: 108 (Groupie Doll in 2012 at Santa Anita).
Recap: Bar of Gold, virtually ignored in the wagering at 66-1, rallied from next-to-last in the field of 14 to win by a nose in a shocker. Ami’s Mesa, 18-1, came in second. Carina Mia, 20-1, finished third.
Unique Bella, the even-money favorite who was seeking her sixth consecutive victory, showed the way early through swift fractions of :21.84 and :44.35. But she faltered and finished seventh.
Finest City won the 2016 Filly & Mare Sprint, but wound up eighth in the 2017 version.
This was Bar of Gold’s first win in a graded stakes race. The 5-year-old New York-bred Medaglia d’Oro mare posted the second-highest payoff for a $2 win ticket in the history of the Breeders’ Cup. The only bigger upset was when Arcangues won the BC Classic in 1993 at Santa Anita and paid $269.20.
$1 MILLION TURF SPRINT (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Stormy Liberal, who paid $62.40, (2) Richard’s Boy, (3) Disco Partner.
Winner: Owned by Rockingham Ranch; trained by Peter Miller; ridden by Joel Rosario.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 103. Obviously won the 2016 BC Sprint at Santa Anita with a 106 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Turf Sprint: 107 (Mongolian Saturday at Keeneland in 2015).
Recap: It was a Peter Miller exacta, paying $277.50 for $1.
Miller trains both Stormy Liberal, who was dismissed in the wagering at 30-1, and Richard’s Boy, who was 13-1. Stormy Liberal, sixth early in the field of 12, prevailed by a head while completing five furlongs on the grass in :56.12. Richard’s Boy came in second, a half-length in front of fast-closing third-place finisher Disco Partner.
Stormy Liberal, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred Stormy Atlantic gelding, had not started since finishing eighth in Belmont’s Grade III Jaipur on the grass Jan. 10. Disco Partner’s 1:05.67 clocking when he won the Jaipur broke the world record for six furlongs.
Miller said the reason for Stormy Liberal’s layoff between the Jaipur and BC Sprint was a serious leg infection.
“We thought maybe it was a spider bite on his hind leg, which got a really bad infection,” Miller said to Mike Willman on his radio program “At the Races” the morning after the BC Turf Sprint. “He was out for literally two months just trying to get the leg under control. My staff really did a super job just getting that leg back. Once he got working up to five-eighths about three, four weeks ago, I told Mr. Hartunian [Rockingham Ranch], ‘This horse belongs in the Breeders’ Cup. He deserves a chance. He’s doing really well.’ And I told Joel [Rosario], ‘This is a good horse. I don’t care that he’s 30-1.’ ”
Stormy Liberal broke the record for winning a Breeders’ Cup race off the longest layoff in its 34-year history. It had been 147 days since his last race, the June 10 Jaipur. The previous longest layoff was 137 days before Magician won the 2013 BC Turf at Santa Anita. Prior to his BC Turf triumph, Magician had last raced June 18 at Royal Ascot.
$2 MILLION JUVENILE FILLIES (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Caledonia Road, who paid $36.60, (2) Alluring Star, (3) Blonde Bomber.
Winner: Owned by Zoom and Fish Stable, Charlie Spiring & Newtown Anner Stud; trained by Ralph Nicks; ridden by Mike Smith.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 82. Champagne Room won the 2016 BC Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita with a 78 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Fillies: 107 (Tempera in 2001).
Recap: Racing on dry land for the first time, Caledonia Road rallied from far back in the field of 13 to win by 3 1/4 lengths at 17-1. Her final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:45.05. Alluring Star, 8-1, ran second. Blonde Bomber, 30-1, finished third.
Moonshine Memories, the 2-1 favorite, ended up seventh. It was her first defeat in four career starts. She went into this race off back-to-back Grade I wins in the Del Mar Debutante and Chandelier at Santa Anita.
Caledonia Road, a Florida-bred daughter of Quality Road, splashed her way to a 2 3/4-length win when unveiled in a seven-furlong maiden race on a sloppy track Sept. 3 at Saratoga. She then ran second in the Grade I Frizette on a wet track termed good Oct. 8 at Belmont.
The BC Juvenile Fillies was Caledonia Road’s first opportunity to race on a fast track. It was also her first start in a race around two turns.
This was Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith’s 26th win in a Breeders’ Cup race, which is the all-time record.
Caledonia Road certainly behaved better at the Breeders’ Cup than her sire did in 2009. After Quality Road refused to go into the starting gate, he was blindfolded. But he kicked wildly, scraping his hocks on the gate. Quality Road became the first horse ever scratched at the starting gate in the BC Classic.
$2 MILLION DISTAFF (NOV. 3)
Results: (1) Forever Unbridled, who paid $9.40, (2) Abel Tasman, (3) Paradise Woods.
Winner: Charles Fipke; trained by Dallas Stewart; ridden by John Velazquez.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 99. Beholder won the 2016 BC Distaff at Santa Anita with a 105 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Distaff: 120 (Princess Rooney in 1984).
Recap: When Beholder won the 2016 BC Distaff at Santa Anita by a nose at the end of a furious stretch duel with Songbird, Forever Unbridled finished a respectable third, losing by 1 3/4 lengths.
Forever Unbridled then underwent surgery on Dec. 13 to remove a bone chip from her left front ankle. With another try in the BC Distaff the mare’s primary 2017 objective, she was given plenty of time off after the operation.
Making the most of her abbreviated three-race campaign this year, Forever Unbridled won them all. In her initial 2017 start, she took the Grade II Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 17. Next, the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Unbridled’s Song won Saratoga’s Grade I Personal Ensign on Aug. 26, defeating multiple Eclipse Award winner Songbird by a neck.
In this year’s 1 1/8-mile BC Distaff, Forever Unbridled rallied from sixth in the field of eight to prevail by a half-length in 1:50.25. Three-year-olds Abel Tasman, Paradise Woods and Elate finished second, third and fourth, respectively. Elate was sent away as the 2-1 favorite after winning the Grade I Alabama by 5 1/2 lengths and Grade I Beldame by 8 1/4 lengths.
$1 MILLION JUVENILE TURF (NOV. 3)
Results: (1) Mendelssohn, who paid $11.60, (2) Untamed Domain, (3) Voting Control.
Winner: Owned by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith; trained by Aidan O’Brien; ridden by Ryan Moore.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 86. Oscar Performance won the 2016 BC Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita with a 93 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Turf: 93 (Donativum in 2008, Outstrip in 2013, Oscar Performance in 2016).
Recap: Mendelssohn finished second to U S Navy Flag in the Group I Dewhurst Stakes in England on Oct. 14. These two colts then were sent to the U.S. and competed in different Breeders’ Cup races.
Mendelssohn, in contention early, won the BC Juvenile Turf at one mile by one length as the 9-2 favorite in 1:35.97. Untamed Domain, 12-1 in the betting, finished second. Voting Control, 9-1, came in third.
A $3 million yearling purchase at Keeneland, Mendelssohn is a Kentucky-bred son of Scat Daddy and the Tricky Creek mare Leslie’s Lady. Mendelssohn is a half-brother to Beholder, a three-time Breeders’ Cup winner. Beholder won the 2012 BC Juvenile Fillies as well as the BC Distaff in both 2013 and 2016.
Beholder’s prowess on the dirt understandably has Mendelssohn’s trainer, Aidan O’Brien, thinking of the 2018 Kentucky Derby as a possibility for the 2017 BC Juvenile Turf victor.
$1 MILLION DIRT MILE (NOV. 3)
Results: (1) Battle of Midway, who paid $30.40, (2) Sharp Azteca, (3) Awesome Slew.
Winner: Owned by Whispering Oaks Farm; trained by Jerry Hollendorfer; ridden by Flavien Prat.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 108. Tamarkuz won the 2016 BC Dirt Mile at Santa Anita with a 107 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Dirt Mile: 119 (Corinthian in 2007).
Recap: Facing older foes for the first time, Battle of Midway got the job done in this race by a half-length in 1:35.20. Sharp Azteca finished second in the field of 10, while Awesome Slew ended up third. Mor Spirit finished eighth as the 2-1 favorite while making his first start since he had won the Grade I Met Mile at Belmont on June 10.
This was Battle of Midway’s second graded stakes victory. He won the Grade III Affirmed at Santa Anita on June 24 after finishing third in the Grade I Kentucky Derby on May 6. The 3-year-old Kentucky-bred Smart Strike colt came into the BC Dirt Mile off a second to Untrapped in the Grade III Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on Sept. 24.
$1 MILLION JUVENILE FILLIES TURF (NOV. 3)
Results: (1) Rushing Fall, who paid $8, (2) Best Performance, (3) September.
Winner: Owned by e Five Racing Thoroughbreds; trained by Chad Brown; ridden by Javier Castellano.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 85. New Money Honey won the 2016 BC Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita with an 85 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf: 96 (Lady Eli in 2014).
Recap: Rushing Fall won this one-mile race for the same owner (e Five Racing Thoroughbreds), trainer (Chad Brown) and jockey (Javier Castellano) who took the 2016 BC Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita with New Money Honey.
Ninth early in the field of 14, Rushing Fall came rushing home to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:24.09. It was her third victory in as many career starts. Prior to the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, the Kentucky-bred More Than Ready filly won a one-mile maiden race on the grass Sept. 16 at Belmont, then took the Grade III Jessamine by 3 1/4 lengths on the turf Oct. 11 at Keeneland.
To state the obvious, it behooves horseplayers to pay attention to e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, Brown and Castellano if they again have a starter in the 2018 BC Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs.