Eagerly awaited, the Saturday of the Breeders’ Cup meeting did not disappoint with, on the whole, the equine luminaries expected to deliver doing just that. The final and ninth Grade One contest on the Churchill Downs card, the $6million Breeders’ Cup Classic, over 1m2f on the dirt, was wide open at the furlong pole with Godolphin’s Dubai World Cup winner, Thunder Snow, gallantly trying pass Accelerate but to no avail. As he faltered in the closing stages, it was left to Gunnevera, well beaten in eighth behind the Godolphin runner at Meydan, to throw down the last challenge. He tried but was unable to deny trainer John Sadler a first Breeders’ Cup winner and jockey Joel Rosario capping a wonderful two days having landed both juvenile dirt features the previous day.
“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. However, Accelerate had already taken him to dizzy heights this year. “I’m thrilled, no doubt,” said a serene Sadler. “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. “He’s been the best horse in this division all year, so I thought if we had a good trip, he’d be tough to beat.”
And so it proved with the 5yo son of Lookin At Lucky continuing the improvement he has made all year with four wins at the highest level registered in the Santa Anita Handicap, the same venue’s Gold Cup, the Pacific Classic at Del Mar and the Awesome Again Stakes back at Santa Anita. Settled in midfield, Accelerate capped his sensational year with a burst at the top of the straight, shooting past UAE Derby winner, Mendelssohn, before holding off Thunder Snow, then Gunnevera. Already a dual Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe heroine, the remarkable Enable was able to do something never before achieved by following up in the 1m4f Breeders’ Cup Turf. Dancing Brave, Sakhee, Golden Horn and Found, to name four, had tried to follow up Longchamp success with Breeders’ Cup glory but failed.
Enable would not join that illustrious list, powering home for a decisive victory. Trained in Newmarket by John Gosden for her owner and breeder, Prince Khalid Abdullah, Enable, a homebred 4yo daughter of Nathaniel, won the Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Arc during a stellar 2017. However, her campaign this term was stalled until September following a spring setback, meaning this was just her third 2018 outing having won on the all-weather at Kempton before defending her Arc tiara. “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. “It was a tough race. Frankie was determined to stay wide for the better ground and Ryan Moore slipped up our inner on Magical.
“I thought she was going to beat us, but it was a wonderful stretch run between two great fillies and two great jockeys. “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’s wonderful for Prince Khalid, who has been a massive supporter of the Breeders’ Cup since 1984 when I first sat with him at Hollywood Park.” Dettori, winning his fifth Turf, exclaimed: “She’s conquered America and is the first one to do it! “We had the rain and her wheels were spinning around the bends, so I took her wide to get the fresh ground where she was comfortable and found another gear. She’s amazing. She’s very special.”
Owner and breeder Abdullah, as well as Dettori, was celebrating a turf double having already combined with Expert Eye to land the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Saddled by Sir Michael Stoute, the homebred 3yo son of Acclamation received a Dettori masterclass, produced fast and late to deny Sadler’s Catapult. Barathea, ridden in 1994 by Dettori and trained by Stoute’s Newmarket counterpart, the soon to retire Luca Cumani, is the only other British winner of the Mile. “Frankie was great on him,” said Stoute. “He scared me, but he was brilliant and knew what he had under him. He just managed to get there in time. I thought he was too far back!” Dettori, who treated the crowd to a trademark flying dismount, was winning his 13th Breeders’ Cup race and added: “He didn’t break very well, but I managed to get on the good patch of ground and he found a nice rhythm. “When they kicked off the bend I thought we had a mountain to climb, but the turbo kicked in and he won cosily in the end.
Horses can lose ground on the turns here, but make it up in the straight and that was the case. Once he found his footing he was away.” Abdullah’s long serving racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe was delighted and enthused: “We’ve been trying for quite a long time to win this! “I know Prince Khalid will be so chuffed with the patience Sir Michael has shown and the brilliant ride Frankie gave him; it’s all come together today.” The rest of the card was dominated by the ‘home team’, the Grade One action kicking off on the dirt with the 7f Filly & Mare Sprint, won by outsider Shamrock Rose, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr for Mark Casse. Next up was the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, over an extended 5f, with Peter Miller and Drayden Van Dyke combining to land the spoils with Stormy Liberal. The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile went to City Of Light, trained by Michael McCarthy and partnered by Javier Castellano before Sistercharlie landed the 1m3f Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
John Velazquez rode the winner for Chad Brown, denying Godolphin’s Wild Illusion, by a neck, of a third consecutive and fourth career victory at the highest level in the process. The other two Grade Ones were both on the dirt with Roy H, third at Meydan in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen, storming to victory in the 6f Breeders’ Cup Sprint under Paco Lopez completing a sprint double for trainer Miller with horses he campaigned in the UAE; Stormy Liberal was runner-up in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint. Monomoy Girl landed the 1m1f Breeders’ Cup Distaff, ridden by Florent Geroux for Brad Cox on a memorable occasion, undoubtedly highlighted by Accelerate, Enable and the irrepressible Frankie Dettori!