Author: Michele MacDonald
She came, she saw, she conquered. But unlike Julius Caesar with his brutal legions in ancient times, Juddmonte Farms’ Enable dispatched her Breeders’ Cup Turf rivals in the most stylish manner, beautifully convincing all racing fans, at least those outside the southern hemisphere, that she is now the most special racehorse in the world. While ridden by an ecstatic Frankie Dettori, Enable’s victory over Coolmore’s plucky Magical crowned the t w o day Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, lifting the 35th edition of America’s championship event into an unforgettable artistic success. Along with Dettori, trainer John Gosden delivered a master’s show with the 4yo Enable, who made history as the first horse to ever follow up a victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with triumph in the Turf. “As usual she showed enormous courage to go and win,” Gosden praised her after the race. “She is mentally so strong, and I think it was her mental strength as much as anything that brought her home in front.
“She’s had a difficult year and really it’s amazing she’s here today,” added Gosden, referring to the fact that that Enable was sidelined for most of the season and had a fever shortly before her Arc victory, her second in Europe’s premier race. “Maybe she’s getting better. She did it today with sheer guts and determination. It’s wonderful for her owner and breeder, Prince Khalid Abdullah. He was keen to come here and has been rewarded.” Prince Khalid will decide if Enable stays in training, said Gosden and Juddmonte Racing Manager Teddy Grimthorpe. For his part, Dettori had to call on all his experience in first steering Enable off the heavier part of the still rain sodden course and then fending off a lightning strike from Ryan Moore, who darted inside him for the stretch run on Magical, the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes winner.
“It was a punch-up to see who was the best. Enable went half a length up and I knew she was fighting for me, but Ryan was like a wasp that wouldn’t go away. The ground made it hard for Enable today, but she’s a superstar,” said Dettori after his trademark flying dismount in the winner’s circle. While Australia’s Winx has been the world’s highest rated horse this year and recently ran into history with a remarkable fourth Cox Plate victory, all her racing has been done in Australia. Enable has travelled and conquered, and in the world of international competition, she gains an edge with her prestigious triumphs in England, Ireland, France and America. Meanwhile, throughout the 14 Breeders’ Cup races, several other masters of the sport such as Bob Baffert and Sir Michael S t o u t e joined Gosden and Dettori in delivering tutorials on how top level winning is accomplished.
They were ably supported by a cast of rising stars who can be counted on to light up the future. John Sadler fits somewhere between those categories, but the respected veteran trainer exited the track with the biggest trophy and payday when Accelerate put away Godolphin’s Thunder Snow and held off Gunnevera to win the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. The visibly emotional Sadler, whose jaw muscles trembled as he stood in the winner’s circle, had undergone unpleasant scrutiny for being 0/44 with his previous Breeders’ Cup runners. Now Sadler has the pleasure of knowing that Accelerate will own the Eclipse Award as America’s Champion Older Male and perhaps give Triple Crown winner Justify strong competition in the Horse of the Year balloting even though his racing career has given way to stud duty for 2019 at Lane’s End Farm.
“We won the big one,” Sadler exclaimed. “He ran a big race and Joel Rosario rode him perfectly.” “I hope people will zero in on Accelerate’s campaign; five Grade One victories with four at the classic distance of a mile and a quarter and usually carrying high weight,” Sadler continued the day after the victory. “He showed in the Classic, with horses from around the world, that he was the best horse. He had a great campaign and we’re very proud of that. He’s really a champion.” “That was about as good as it gets. That horse is simply unbelievable,” jockey Rosario declared in the winner’s circle. “I’m so happy for the owners and John. It was a great performance. Accelerate has so much heart.” Rosario, who is well known in the UAE for winning the 2013 Dubai World Cup on Animal Kingdom and the last two editions of the Dubai Golden Shaheen on Mind Your Biscuits, reached a new level of superior success at Breeders’ Cup.
He piloted three winners, including both victors in the Juvenile dirt races, the colt Game Winner and the filly Jaywalk, more than any other rider, and became only the fourth jockey in history to win at least three races during a single Breeders’ Cup event. “He’s one of the most physical riders in the game right now. He’s so strong and powerful,” Sadler observed. On the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of personality, the ebullient Dettori moved into third place by all-time Breeders’ Cup earnings with $24,603,862 after also piloting Expert Eye, trained by Stoute for Juddmonte, to a rallying victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Dettori now stands fourth all-time with 14 Cup wins, and the painful memories of his wide run with Swain in the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs have long since been banished.
Many of Dettori’s wins were notched for Godolphin, and the global stable came so close to achieving multiple victories this year. Line of Duty, ridden by William Buick, came through with a glorious run and survived a claim of foul after bumping with runner-up Uncle Benny to capture the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf for Charlie Appleby. “William gave him a great ride. He managed to get him wide and come with a clear run. It’s great for the team and especially Sheikh Mohammad,” Appleby said. Godolphin’s Wild Illusion gave her all under Buick in the Filly & Mare Turf, rating just off trainer Chad Brown’s pacesetting A Raving Beauty before surging to the front and then just failing to hold off a charge from the Brown-trained Sistercharlie, who edged past her to win by a neck. “She’s run a fantastic race and has lost nothing in defeat,” Appleby said of Wild Illusion, a 3yo multiple Group One winner by Darley’s Dubawi.
“Coming into the race we felt that Chad’s filly, Sistercharlie, was the one we all had to beat, so full credit to him and his team on their win.” Godolphin’s Thunder Snow also gave a good accounting of himself for Saeed bin Suroor and Christophe Soumillon in the Classic, chasing early leader Mendelssohn and then looking like a winner in the stretch prior to being passed by Accelerate and Gunnevera. Both Soumillion and Bin Suroor were pleased with their charge, with Soumillon saying Thunder Snow ‘ran on really well’ while third, 1 ¾ lengths behind Accelerate, and a nose in front of Japanese-bred Yoshida with UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn fifth. Bin Suroor indicated Thunder Snow could try to win a second Dubai World Cup in 2019. In the female version of the Classic, 3yo Monomoy Girl put away some very tough rivals in the Distaff, earning herself a divisional championship in the process.
The winner of six of her seven starts this year and disqualified from first in her other race, Monomoy Girl has proved super consistent while collecting trophies from five Grade One events including the Kentucky Oaks. “She was training like a monster and she ran like a monster. She is a special filly, one of a kind, an unbelievable filly,” said trainer Brad Cox, who, like Sadler, celebrated his initial score in a Breeders’ Cup race. Other trainers who won for the first time in Breeders’ Cup races were Michael McCarthy, a former assistant to Todd Pletcher who saddled Dirt Mile winner City of Light, and John Servis, best known as the trainer of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Smarty Jones who sent out Jaywalk to win the Juvenile Fillies.
Breeders’ Cup always gives us a glimpse into the future and this year we saw yet another champion saddled by Baffert in Juvenile hero Game Winner, who now is a convincing early favourite for the 2019 Kentucky Derby and, dare we say it, the Triple Crown. With three Grade One triumphs under Game Winner’s girth, the undefeated son of Candy Ride currently looks like the type who could do much more. “I know he is a really good horse. He showed it today; he was much the best,” said Baffert, who earned his 15th Breeders’ Cup trophy and ranks second among alltime leading Cup trainers behind only D. Wayne Lukas, who has 20 wins. Baffert, however, leads all trainers by Cup earnings with $28,761,000.
In the 2yo female division, Jaywalk has made her freshman sire, Cross Traffic, America’s leading first year sire and has stamped herself as a contender for the big filly events for 2019. American-trained 2yos also fared quite well in the turf events, with the Todd Pletcher-trained Bulletin, by City Zip, taking the Juvenile Turf Sprint and Newspaperofrecord, saddled by the ‘white hot’ Brown, prevailing in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. With that triumph, Brown moved into a tie for third with Aidan O’Brien among leading Cup trainers with each having saddled 12 winners. The juvenile grass race results on a turf left boggy in spots by heavy rain during the week and beating some qualified competitors among the biggest group of Cup challengers ever sent over from Europe could spur American owners and trainers to think more about racing their best horses in premier grass events. American horses also ran superbly in the Mile on grass, with Sadler and Brown runners Catapult and Analyze It taking second and third, respectively, and in the Turf, with Sadler’s Joy and Arklow third and fourth of the 13 runners. However, at this particular time, no one can eclipse the brilliant Enable. She is a horse who has given us bright memories that will live on long after these days have dimmed.