VENUE: Santa Anita on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4
Main Track: dirt, fast Friday and Saturday; Turf Course: firm Friday and Saturday.
$2 MILLION SPRINT (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Elite Power, who paid $5.40 as the favorite, (2) Gunite, (3) Nakatomi.
Winner: Owned by Juddmonte; trained by Bill Mott; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.; Kentucky-bred 5-year-old son of Curlin.
Distance: 6 furlongs on dirt. Starters: 8. Final time: 1:08.34.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 111. Elite Power won the 2022 BC Sprint at Keeneland with a 100 Beyer. Top Beyer in the Sprint and the top Beyer in Breeders’ Cup history: 125 (Precisionist in 1985).
Recap: This was the 40th running of the Breeders’ Cup and a record 11th it’s been held at Santa Anita.
The BC Sprint took on added significance this year. Why? For the first time the BC Sprint, not the BC Classic, was the final Breeders’ Cup race of the year. This meant the BC Sprint was the last leg in Saturday’s $1 pick six, which paid $5,946.40.
The training star at this year’s Breeders’ Cup was three-time winner Bill Mott. The Hall of Fame horseman won the BC Sprint with Elite Power, the BC Dirt Mile with Cody’s Wish and the BC Juvenile Fillies with Just F Y I.
The Breeders’ Cup riding star this year was three-time winner Irad Ortiz Jr. He won the BC Sprint aboard Elite Power, the BC Classic on White Abarrio and the BC Filly & Mare Sprint with Goodnight Olive.
Elite Power took this year’s BC Sprint in his career finale. Again showing that he’s aptly named, Elite Power bounded home to win by 1 1/2 lengths after having won the 2022 renewal by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:09.11 when his odds were 5-1 at Keeneland.
It’s to Elite Power’s credit that he registered a career-best 111 Beyer Speed Figure for his performance in this year’s BC Sprint. This was the highest Beyer at this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
Curlin enjoyed a second straight stellar Breeders’ Cup as a sire. After siring three Breeders’ Cup winners last year, he duplicated the feat this year.
Elite Power and Cody’s Wish were Breeders’ Cup winners for Curlin last year and this year. The 2022 BC Distaff winner, Malathaat, and the 2023 BC Distaff winner, Idiomatic, are both by Curlin.
Dubawi is the only other sire to have three Breeders’ Cup winners in one year. It happened in 2021 when Modern Games won the BC Juvenile Turf, Space Blues won the BC Mile and Yibir won the BC Turf.
Curlin is now the all-time leading Breeders’ Cup sire by wins with eight.
Victorious in the 2007 BC Classic, Curlin twice was crowned Horse of the Year (2007 and 2008). He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.
$1 MILLION TURF SPRINT (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Nobals, who paid $26.00, (2), Big Invasion, (3) Aesop’s Fables.
Winner: Owned by Patricia’s Hope; trained by Larry Rivelli; ridden by Gerardo Corrales; Kentucky-bred 4-year-old Noble Mission gelding.
Distance: 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. Starters: 12. Final time: :55.15.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 102. Caraval won the 2022 BC Turf Sprint at Keeneland with a 107 Beyer. Previous top Beyer in the BC Turf Sprint: 119 (Stormy Liberal in 2018).
Recap: Nobals won by a neck. It was a blanket finish, which is not all that surprising for a five-furlong grass dash. Big Invasion closed with gusto from well off the pace to finish second. Aesop’s Fables also came on from far back to end up third. Pacesetter Live In The Dream weakened slightly late to finish fourth. Motorious, the 5-2 favorite, ran fifth. Arzak finished sixth, followed by Beer Can Man in seventh.
The Equibase chart shows the first six margins at the finish were a neck, a half-length, a half-length, a head, a neck and a neck.
Nobals went into the BC Turf Sprint off a narrow grass win in Colonial Downs’ Da Hoss Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on Sept. 9. His first 2023 victory came in Churchill Downs’ Grade II Twin Spires Turf Sprint at 5 1/2 furlongs May 6 on the Kentucky Derby undercard when he was 38-1. Nobals also won a five-furlong turf sprint, the William Garrett Handicap, on July 7 at Horseshoe Indianapolis.
$6 MILLION CLASSIC (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) White Abarrio, who paid $7.20 as the favorite, (2) Derma Sotogake, (3) Proxy.
Winner: Owned by C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stable; trained by Rick Dutrow Jr.; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.; Kentucky-bred 4-year-old Race Day colt.
Distance: 1 1/4 miles on dirt. Starters: 13. Final Time: 2:02.87.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 106. Flightline won the 2022 BC Classic at Keeneland with a 121 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Classic: 124 (Sunday Silence in 1989 at Gulfstream Park, Ghostzapper in 2004 at Lone Star Park).
Recap: After Rick Dutrow sent out White Abarrio to win the $6 million BC Classic, which has the distinction of being this country’s richest race, the veteran trainer said he would be going to Disneyland.
And so it came to be that a day after Dutrow was one of the happiest trainers at this year’s Breeders’ Cup, he visited “the happiest place on Earth,” as it’s sometimes called.
“I love it there,” Dutrow said of Disneyland to Daily Racing Form’s David Grening. “It’ll save me money because if I don’t do that I’m going to bet football and watch football. I’ll save money if I go to Disneyland.”
For someone to say it will “save them money” if they go to Disneyland is a real rarity considering how expensive a day there has become these days.
White Abarrio’s BC Classic victory is a tribute to Dutrow’s horsemanship. After White Abarrio’s scintillating 6 1/4-length win in Saratoga’s Grade I Whitney Stakes in early August, Dutrow announced that he would be sending the colt to Santa Anita well in advance of the BC Classic. One of the reasons for this was what had happened with Saint Laim in 2005.
Dutrow sent Saint Liam from the East Coast to Southern California for the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap in 2005. Arriving at Santa Anita close to the race, Saint Liam finished sixth as the 11-10 favorite.
“When I was training Saint Liam for the Santa Anita Handicap, he was training like clockwork,” Dutrow recalled. “We sent him there at the last minute and it just didn’t happen. He showed up the rest of the year.”
Saint Liam would go on to win three Grade I races in 2005 -- the Stephen Foster Handicap, Whitney Handicap and BC Classic at Belmont Park -- while on his way to being voted 2005 Horse of the Year.
After his Whitney win on Aug. 5, White Abarrio arrived at Santa Anita in September for the BC Classic, which would be his first start in a race longer than 1 1/8 miles.
It was not all smooth sailing for White Abarrio at Santa Anita in the lead-up to the BC Classic. According to Grening, Dutrow said that White Abarrio has for months been dealing with a cracked-heel issue on a hind foot.
“It’s like a little bit of a cracked heel behind and it’s been lingering for about two to three months, maybe longer,” Dutrow said.
While I had been concerned that all had not gone swimmingly for White Abarrio in his training, his five-furlong workout at Santa Anita on Oct. 27 was so good that I decided to make him my pick to win the BC Classic in my selections for Xpressbet.com.
“Any worries handicappers might have had regarding White Abarrio after he had a scheduled workout postponed here earlier this week due to foot issues were likely laid to rest in the :59.63 it took the Grade I Whitney winner to work five furlongs shortly before dawn on a crisp Friday morning at Santa Anita,” Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch wrote.
White Abarrio’s official clocking for the move was :59.80.
I have much respect for Welsch, who has a keen eye as a clocker. He timed White Abarrio “completing his final three-eighths in :34.54 and quarter in :23 flat before continuing willingly into the clubhouse turn and galloping out six panels in 1:13.26,” Welsch wrote. “Even better yet was the energy he showed jogging home, eager and on his toes as if the work took little, or nothing, out of him at all.”
That final quarter in :23 flat indicated to me that it was all systems go for White Abarrio.
When White Abarrio had trounced his foes in the Whitney, he was credited with a 110 Beyer Speed Figure. It was the top Beyer by the 13 contestants in this year’s BC Classic.
One reason White Abarrio was my top pick in the BC Classic is I felt that he might win it even if he regressed a bit off his 110 Beyer in the Whitney. This proved to be the case in that he recorded a 106 Beyer for his BC Classic performance.
Below are Beyer Speed Figures by BC Classic winners:
2023 White Abarrio (106)
2022 Flightline (121)
2021 Knicks Go (112)
2020 Authentic (111)
2019 Vino Rosso (111)
2018 Accelerate (105)
2017 Gun Runner (117)
2016 Arrogate (120)
2015 American Pharoah (120)
2014 Bayern (113)
2013 Mucho Macho Man (112)
2012 Fort Larned (117)
2011 Drosselmeyer (104)
2010 Blame (111)
2009 Zenyatta (112)*
2008 Raven’s Pass (110)*
2007 Curlin (119)
2006 Invasor (116)
2005 Saint Liam (112)
2004 Ghostzapper (124)
2003 Pleasantly Perfect (119)
2002 Volponi (116)
2001 Tiznow (117)
2000 Tiznow (116)
1999 Cat Thief (118)
1998 Awesome Again (116)
1997 Skip Away (120)
1996 Alphabet Soup (115)
1995 Cigar (117)
1994 Concern (115)
1993 Arcangues (114)
1992 A.P. Indy (114)
1991 Black Tie Affair (120)
1990 Unbridled (116)
1989 Sunday Silence (124)
1988 Alysheba (122)
1987 Ferdinand (117)
1985 Proud Truth (120)
1984 Wild Again (113)
Even more meaningful to me than White Abarrio’s 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the Whitney was the negative 6 Thoro-Graph number he received for that race. In terms of Beyer Speed Figures, the higher the number the better. The opposite is true for Thoro-Graph numbers.
I have said many times that I consider Beyer Speed Figures to be a useful tool for horseplayers. But I’ve also said that I believe Thoro-Graph numbers are superior to the Beyers. That’s because Thoro-Graph takes more factors into account than the Beyers. According to Thoro-Graph, “each number on a sheet represents a performance rating arrived at by using time of the race, beaten lengths, ground lost or saved on the turns, weight carried, and any effects wind conditions had on the time of the race.”
In the case of the Thoro-Graph numbers, a horse who finished second, or even lower, can get a better number than the winner. This is one of the reasons I believe that Thoro-Graph is better than the Beyers. I consider a Thoro-Graph number to be a much truer reflection of a horse’s performance than a Beyer. Thoro-Graph’s approach reflects the reality that the winner is not necessarily the horse who ran the best race.
The winner of a race never gets a lower Beyer Speed Figure than the horse who finished second, the horse who finished second never gets a lower Beyer than the horse who finished third, and so on down through the order of finish.
Just how marvelous was White Abarrio’s negative 6 in the Whitney? I think it’s fair to say that it was a Flightline-like performance.
When the great Flightline won Del Mar’s Grade I Pacific Classic by 19 1/4 lengths, he received a negative 8 1/2 Thoro-Graph number. That’s the best Thoro-Graph number in the 36 years they have been computing speed figures.
The previous lowest Thoro-Graph number was Frosted’s negative 8 when he won the Grade I Met Mile at Belmont Park by 14 1/4 lengths with a rapid final time of 1:32.73.
Following Flightline’s sensational Pacific Classic victory, he concluded his undefeated racing career with an 8 1/2-length win in the BC Classic at Keeneland. That broke the record for the largest winning margin in the history of the BC Classic, which was first run in 1984.
Flightline received a negative 6 for his win in the BC Classic. White Abarrio matched that Thoro-Graph number in the Whitney.
Nobody else in this year’s BC Classic field had done anything figure-wise comparable to Flightline.
During the early stages of the BC Classic, White Abarrio lurked in third behind pacesetter Arabian Knight and pace-presser Saudi Crown. White Abarrio, who was “traveling sweetly” on the far turn, as Santa Anita track announcer Frank Mirahmadi put it during his excellent call of the race, moved up willingly to wrest the lead away from Arabian Knight in the vicinity of the quarter pole.
The Equibase chart has Arabian Knight leading by a half-length at the quarter pole. Not that it overly matters, I don’t agree with that. When I watch the video replay and freeze it at the quarter pole, it appears to me that White Abarrio is in front by a gray head, maybe even a neck. I make this observation as someone who called the official charts for the 1986 Breeders’ Cup Classic won by Skywalker and the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Classic won by Ferdinand.
White Abarrio and Arabian Knight were locked in a slugfest for the lead in upper stretch. White Abarrio then got the better of that 3-year-old rival to pass the eighth pole with a one-length advantage. After sporting a clear lead for most of the final furlong, White Abarrio reached the finish one length in front of an oncoming Derma Sotogake.
It appeared to me that either (a) the 1 1/4-mile trip was getting to White Abarrio a smidge toward the end and/or (b) he lost his focus a bit late after drawing clear.
Derma Sotogake, a 3-year-old facing his elders for the first time and making his first start since finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby on May 6, ran one heckuva race to finish second in the BC Classic at 26-1. Proxy, off at 17-1, was full of run late to edge 3-1 second favorite Arabian Knight for third. Proxy was never a threat to win, though, as he ended up 2 1/4 lengths behind White Abarrio.
Finishing fifth was Ushba Tesoro (this year’s Dubai World Cup winner), followed in order by Bright Future, Senor Buscador, Dreamlike, Zandon, Saudi Crown, Clapton and Missed the Cut.
For all the talk about how strong the 3-year-old male class is this year, the BC Classic was won by a 4-year-old.
$4 MILLION TURF (NOV. 5)
Results: (1) Auguste Rodin, who paid $7.00 as the favorite, (2) Up to the Mark, (3) Shahryar.
Winner: Owned by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith; trained by Aidan O’Brien; ridden by Ryan Moore; Irish-bred 3-year-old Deep Impact colt.
Distance: 1 1/2 miles on turf. Starters 11. Final Time: 2:24.30.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 106. Rebel’s Romance won the 2022 BC Turf at Keeneland with a 107. Top Beyer in the Turf: 118 (Daylami in 1999 at Gulfstream Park).
Recap: “He’s a super horse,” trainer Aidan O’Brien said after Auguste Rodin’s BC Turf triumph.
That is high praise, indeed, in that it comes from the man who, extraordinarily, now has won the BC Turf a record seven times -- High Chaparral in 2002 and 2003, St. Nicholas Abbey in 2011, Magician in 2013, Found in 2015, Highland Reel in 2016 and Auguste Rodin in 2023.
Prior to the BC Turf, Auguste Rodin had won three Group I events in Europe -- the prestigious Epsom Derby, the Irish Derby and the Irish Champion Stakes vs. older opponents.
Ryan Moore gave August Rodin a fantastic ride in the BC Turf. They didn’t have the best of trips early.
“It was messy crossing the dirt,” said Moore, who had to steady Auguste Rodin in heavy traffic just before coming into the stretch for the first time.
Moore then was able to save ground while racing along the inside rail on the backstretch and far turn. Turning into the stretch for the run home, 83-1 longshot Balladeer, who had set the pace to that point, began backpedaling and drifted slightly away from the inside rail. That left a nice hole for Moore and Auguste Rodin to slip through inside with a quick move to take command at the top of the lane. Auguste Rodin went on to win by three-quarters of a length.
Finishing second in a fine try was American grass star Up to the Mark at 7-2. Japan’s Shahryar ran third at 25-1. Mostahdaf rallied to loom to menacingly while quite wide at top of the stretch, but he then lacked the needed additional response and finished eighth as the 3-1 second favorite.
It should be noted that Auguste Rodin did throw in a couple of clunkers during his 2023 campaign. In his first start of the year, he lost by 21 3/4 lengths when finishing 12th in the Group I English Two Thousand Guineas on May 6. Auguste Rodin later was eased home when facing his elders for the first time in the Group I King George IV and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 29.
His two atrocious losses this year notwithstanding, Auguste Rodin showed everyone how truly exceptional he is with his trio of Group I wins in Europe and Grade I victory in the BC Turf.
Auguste Rodin is by Deep Impact, who won seven of nine career starts and swept Japan’s Triple Crown in 2005. Deep Impact’s sire, Sunday Silence, won a BC Classic and a Horse of the Year title in 1989.
$2 MILLION DISTAFF (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Idiomatic, who paid $5.60 as the favorite, (2) Randomized, (3) La Da Vida.
Winner: Owned by Juddmonte; trained by Brad Cox; ridden by Florent Geroux; Kentucky-bred 4-year-old Curlin filly.
Distance: 1 1/8 miles on dirt. Starters: 9. Final Time: 1:50.57
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 96. Malathaat won the 2022 BC Distaff at Keeneland with a 102 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Distaff: 120 (Princess Rooney in 1984).
Recap: Idiomatic was victorious in the final start of a 2023 campaign that was busier than usual in terms of contemporary elite equine athletes. She won eight of nine races this year while making starts in January, February, March, May, June, July, August, October and November.
And after all that racing by Idiomatic, trainer Brad Cox had the huge filly (over 17 hands tall) ready for a winning effort on Nov. 4 in the BC Distaff.
Just off the early pace established by 3-year-old Randomized, Idiomatic had a half-length advantage with a furlong to go. Idiomatic resolutely kept to her task throughout the final furlong. She didn’t exactly come home fast, though, to say the least. That seemed to make her vulnerable to a whole host of rivals (“I thought the cavalry was coming,” Cox said) if they had generated much of a late kick, but nobody did.
Idiomatic, who was running in allowance/optional claiming contests on a synthetic surface at Turfway Park early in the year, reeled off three Grade I victories in a row during the second half of the year. She won Saratoga’s Grade I Personal Ensign Stakes by four lengths on a sloppy track, then Keeneland’s Grade I Spinster Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths, then the BC Distaff in ultra-game fashion.
$2 MILLION MILE (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Master of The Seas, who paid $8.60, (2) Mawj, (3) Casa Creed.
Winner: Owned by Godolphin; trained by Charlie Appleby; ridden by William Buick; Irish-bred 5-year-old son of Dubawi.
Distance: 1 mile on turf. Starters: 13. Final Time: 1:32.45
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 105. Modern Games won the 2022 BC Mile at Keeneland with a 104 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Mile: 119 (Miesque in 1987 at Hollywood Park).
Recap: Master of The Seas began from the outside post in the field of 13. With a relatively short run to the clubhouse turn, there was a possibility that he could be parked wide into that turn. But jockey William Buick maneuvered him over to the two path well before they reached the first turn.
Making a bold move on the far turn, Master of The Seas was fanned extremely wide into the lane. He then closed with a rush. But could he catch the other Godolphin colorbearer, the 3-year-old filly Mawj, who had taken the lead in upper stretch and was running strongly a sixteenth out when 1 1/2 lengths clear?
The finish between Master of The Seas, conditioned by Charlie Appleby, and Mawj, trained by Saeed bin Suror, was so close that a dead heat certainly wasn’t out of the question.
The only dead heat for first in Breeders’ Cup history occurred in 2003 at Santa Anita when High Chaparral and Johar finished on even turms.
But it turned out that there was not a dead heat at the end of this year’s BC Mile. The photo showed that Master of The Seas had won by a scant nose.
This was Appleby’s third consecutive BC Mile victory. He won it in 2021 with Space Blues and in 2022 with Modern Games. Mawj, by the way, is a half-sister to Modern Games.
$1 MILLION FILLY & MARE SPRINT (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Goodnight Olive, who paid $4.20 as the favorite, (2) Yuugiri, (3) Three Witches.
Winner: Owned by First Row Partners and Team Hanley; trained by Chad Brown; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.; Kentucky-bred 5-year-old Ghostzapper mare.
Distance: 7 furlongs on dirt. Starters: 9. Final Time: 1:22.97.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 98. Goodnight Olive won the 2022 BC Filly & Mare Sprint at Keeneland with a 100 Beyer. Top previous Beyer in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint: 108 (Groupie Doll in 2012 at Santa Anita).
Recap: Goodnight Olive won this race last year, but there were those who thought that perhaps she had lost a step this year. After winning all four of her starts in 2022, she went into this year’s BC Filly & Mare Sprint having lost half of her four 2023 races.
In Goodnight Olive’s most recent start prior to this year’s Breeders’ Cup, she had been beaten in the Grade I Ballerina Stakes when finishing 2 1/2 lengths behind Echo Zulu. However, Goodnight Olive’s 108 Beyer for that race actually had been the best figure of her career.
The 108 Beyer suggested to me that Goodnight Olive had not lost a step. It was a major reason why she was my pick to win this year’s BC Filly & Mare in my selections for Xpressbet.com.
Within easy striking range when fourth early, Goodnight Olive won by 2 3/4 lengths.
As I noted in my Breeders’ Cup recap for Xpressbet.com last year, “Goodnight Olive has Breeders’ Cup blood coursing through her veins. Her sire, Ghostzapper, won the 2004 BC Classic. Ghostzapper is by 1998 BC Classic winner Awesome Again.”
And now Goodnight Olive is a two-time Breeders’ Cup winner.
Maybe, just maybe, next year Goodnight Olive will join Goldikova and Beholder as the only three-time Breeders’ Cup winners.
Goodnight Olive was purchased by John Stewart for $6 million Tuesday (Nov. 7) at the Fasig-Tipton November sale. Stewart said he plans to race the mare next year. Chad Brown is to remain Goodnight Olive’s trainer.
Stewart said he hopes to “have her defend her title at the Breeders’ Cup,” Daily Racing Form’s Nicole Russo reported. “I think there’s an opportunity for her to run at Del Mar and do that. Really excited about it.”
Goldikova won the BC Mile in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Beholder won the BC Juvenile Fillies in 2012 and the BC Distaff in 2013 and 2016.
Will we see Goodnight Olive win the BC Filly & Mare Sprint in 2022, 2023 and 2024?
$2 MILLION FILLY & MARE TURF (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Inspiral, who paid $7.00 as the favorite, (2) Warm Heart, (3) Moira.
Winner: Owned by Cheveley Park Stud; trained by John Gosden; ridden by Frankie Dettori; Great Britain-bred 4-year-old Frankel filly.
Distance: 1 1/4 miles on turf. Starters: 12.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 105. Tuesday won the 2022 BC Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland with a 105 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Filly & Mare Turf: 112 (Banks Hill in 2001).
Recap: In her first start going farther than one mile, classy European filly Inspiral unleashed an electrifying late burst of speed to win by a neck.
Inspiral was my top pick in my Breeders’ Cup selections for Xpressbet.com.
In her two most recent starts going into the Grade I BC Filly & Mare Turf, she had won Group I races in France and England.
“I was hoping that Chad Brown’s filly [In Italian] would set stronger fractions,” trainer John Gosden said. “When I saw 1:12 and change [for six furlongs], I thought, where she was, it would be impossible for her to win on this turf course. But luckily she had the class to go and nail it on the line. Of course, you saw how she galloped out.”
Inspiral was running so strongly while galloping out after the finish that she was about seven lengths in front of the pack when reaching the clubhouse turn.
“We’ve probably been running at the wrong trip,” Gosden said, suggesting that perhaps Inspiral might have been better off going 1 1/4 miles or farther all along.
$1 MILLION DIRT MILE (NOV. 4)
Results: (1) Cody’s Wish, who paid $3.60 as the favorite, (2) National Treasure, (3) Skippylongstocking.
Winner: Owned by Godolphin; trained by Bill Mott; ridden by Junior Alvarado; Kentucky-bred 5-year-old son of Curlin.
Distance: 1 mile on dirt. Starters: 7. Final Time 1:35.97:
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 107. Cody’s Wish won the 2022 BC Dirt Mile at Keeneland with a 106 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Dirt Mile: 119 (Corinthian in 2007).
Recap: Odds-on favorite Cody’s Wish ended his racing career with a narrow victory.
Cody’s Wish was my top pick in my Breeders’ Cup selections for Xpressbet.com.
After Cody’s Wish won the 2022 BC Dirt Mile by a head, this time he eked out a nose victory at the end of a late-race slugfest with Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure. Inasmuch as there was some bumping involving these two in deep stretch, the stewards posted the inquiry sign. In a unanimous decision, the stewards (Luis Jauregui, Kim Sawyer and Grant Baker) allowed the original order of finish to stand.
National Treasure ran too good to lose. In his three starts after winning the Preakness, he had finished sixth, fifth and fourth. This was a big step in the right direction for him.
After key BC Dirt Mile scratches of Practical Move and Algiers, a lot of people thought Zozos was going to lead from start to finish. But after not being in front early, Zozos finished fifth.
Cody’s Wish now heads off to stud having won 11 of 18 lifetime starts and all eight of his races at one mile.
You probably know the story by now. Cody’s Wish was named after Cody Dorman, a teenager who had a rare genetic disorder.
Dorman was on hand to see Cody’s Wish win this year’s BC Dirt Mile. Sadly, two days after the Breeders’ Cup the family of Cody Dorman announced in a statement distributed by Godolphin that he had died.
The Dormans’ statement was as follows:
“We are heartbroken to share the news that our beloved Cody suffered a medical event on our trip home to Kentucky yesterday and he has passed away. On Saturday, Cody watched his best friend, Cody’s Wish, display his usual perseverance and toughness in winning a second Breeders’ Cup. Those are the same characteristics Cody has shown time and again for the 18 years we were blessed to have him. We have been completely amazed to experience the impact Cody has had on so many people, through the journey that this wondrous racehorse has taken us all on. From Churchill Downs, to Keeneland, to Saratoga, to Santa Anita this weekend, we could not move 20 feet without people telling us that.
“With Cody’s diagnosis at birth, we always knew this day would come, but we were determined to help Cody live his best life for however long we had him. Anyone who has seen him at the racetrack, especially around Cody’s Wish, understands that in many ways he taught us all how to live, always keeping a positive attitude and being more concerned about those around him than himself.
“As people of faith, we are comforted in the knowledge that Cody has gone home. We pray that he watch over all of us, especially Kylie, the best little sister in the world. We are sincerely grateful for all of those who have shared this journey with Cody and our family. The joy that his interactions with Cody’s Wish have brought him in the last five years is indescribable. We will rely on those memories to help us through an unimaginably difficult time.”
Cody’s Wish topped week 41, the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll for 2023, as shown below:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 326 Cody’s Wish (20)
2. 307 White Abarrio (11)
3. 258 Idiomatic (2)
4. 257 Elite Power (1)
5. 159 Up to the Mark (1)
6. 121 Arcangelo
7. 114 Goodnight Olive
8. 84 Master of The Seas
9. 70 Auguste Rodin
10. 31 Inspiral
Also receiving votes: Echo Zulu (29), Proxy (26), Fierceness (24), Gunite (22), Arabian Knight (21), Just F Y I (18), Casa Creed (11), Nobals (9), Mawj (6), Randomized (6), Ceiling Crusher (5), National Treasure (5), Pretty Mischievous (5), Geaux Rocket Ride (3), Next (3), Hard to Justify (2), In Italian (2), Practial Move (1).
Cody’s Wish finished sixth in the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll for 2022:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 360 Flightline (36)
2. 286 Malathaat
3. 237 Olympiad
4. 178 Modern Games
5. 168 Life Is Good
6. 138 Cody’s Wish
7. 96 Epicenter
8. 94 Taiba
9. 73 Goodnight Olive
10. 67 Nest
Also receiving votes: Elite Power (63), War Like Goddess (40), Rebel’s Romance (32), Clairiere (26), Forte (23), Jackie’s Warrior (17), Cyberknife (13), Jack Christopher (11), Golden Pal (9), Rich Strike (9), Blue Stripe (7), In Italian (7).
$1 MILLION JUVENILE TURF (NOV. 3)
Results: (1) Unquestionable, who paid $5.40 as the favorite, (2) Mountain Bear, (3) My Boy Prince.
Winner: Owned by Al Shaqab Racing; trained by Aidan O’Brien; ridden by Ryan Moore; French-bred 2-year-old colt by Wooton Bassett.
Distance: 1 mile on turf. Starters: 11.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 86. Victoria Road won the 2022 BC Juvenile Turf at Keeneland with an 86 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Turf: 93 (Donativum in 2008, Outstrip in 2013, Oscar Performance in 2016).
Recap: For the second straight year, this race produced a trainer Aidan O’Brien exacta. Victoria Road and Silver Knott finished one-two last year. Unquestionable and Mountain Bear ran one-two this year.
A lot of people had expected to see an O’Brien exacta again this year, but with Unquestionable and River Tiber rather than Unquestionable and Mountain Bear.
I made River Tiber the 5-2 favorite on the morning line, with Unquestionable the second choice at 4-1.
However, River Tiber was scratched when veterinarians gave him the thumbs down to run. There were a number of reasons that I went with River Tiber as the morning-line favorite rather than Unquestionable. One reason was jockey Ryan Moore, who had been riding both colts, opted for River Tiber. Frankie Dettori was named on Unquestionable. When River Tiber came out of the BC Juvenile Turf, Moore replaced Dettori on Unquestionable, who was sent away as a solid 3-2 favorite. Mountain Bear started at 22-1, up from his morning line of 12-1.
$2 MILLION JUVENILE (NOV. 3)
Results: (1) Fierceness, who paid $35.00, (2) Muth, (3) Locked.
Winner: Owned Repole Stable; trained by Todd Pletcher; ridden by John Velazquez; Kentucky-bred 2-year-old City of Light colt.
Distance: 1 1/16 miles on dirt. Starters: 11. Final Time: 1:41.90.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 105. Forte won the 2022 BC Juvenile at Keeneland with a 100 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile: 113 (War Pass in 2007).
Recap: Fierceness was my “nice price danger” in my selections for Xpressbet.com. My comment was: “Toss last race? A juicy 15-1 on DRF line.”
John Velazquez rode Fierceness, who sat just a bit off pacesetter General Partner through the early furlongs. Fierceness took the lead approaching the quarter pole, with Muth looming a bold threat while three wide.
Fierceness kicked away in the lane to win in dominant fashion by 6 1/4 lengths, quite a turnaround from his 20 1/4-length defeat as a 1-2 favorite in the Grade I Champagne Stakes.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has called Fierceness’ Champagne “a head scratcher.” The Champagne was contested on a sloppy track, but Fierceness’ only start prior to that also had taken place on a wet track. When racing on muddy strip in a six-furlong Saratoga maiden race, Fierceness had dazzled, winning by 11 1/4 lengths in an effort that produced a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.
It’s with a sense of pride that I made Fierceness as low as I did on the BC Juvenile morning line. I put him at 6-1. David Aragona had him at 15-1 in the DRF’s odds.
I stubbornly was not going to go any higher than 6-1 on Fierceness because I thought his debut was super. Also, the fact that people as sharp owner Mike Repole and Pletcher went ahead and sent him out to Santa Anita off such a poor performance in the Champagne instead of sending him to Florida to prepare for a 3-year-old campaign told me that Fierceness was live despite the Champagne. I wanted my 6-1 morning-line price on him to alert the betting public to this possibility.
Yes, it’s true that Aragona’s DRF line at 15-1 on Fierceness turned out to be much closer to the colt’s race-time price of 16-1. But you know what? That was perfectly fine with me. Because when I saw Fierceness’ odds fluctuating between 15-1 and 16-1 nearing post time, I put $40 to win on him.
After the race, Repole alluded to winning the 2010 BC Juvenile with Uncle Mo, “the horse put Repole Stable on the map,” as he put it.
As indication of just how good Fierceness’ performance was last Friday, his 105 Beyer was the highest figure by a BC Juvenile winner since Uncle Mo’s 108 in 2010. In the 40-year history of the BC Juvenile, only five winners have received a bigger Beyer than Fierceness’ 105.
Below are the Beyers of 100 and higher by BC Juvenile winners:
113 War Pass (2007)
109 Success Express ()
108 Uncle Mo (2010)
108 Street Sense (2006)
106 Chief’s Crown (1984)
105 Fierceness (105)
104 Texas Red (2014)
104 Stevie Wonderboy (2005)
103 Boston Harbor (1996)
103 Unbridled’s Song (1995)
102 Classic Empire (2016)
102 Vindication (102)
102 Anees (102)
102 Is It True (102)
101 Favorite Trick (1997)
101 Arazi (1991)
101 Fly So Free (1990)
100 Forte (2022)
100 Good Magic (2017)
100 Timber Country (1994)
Repole Stable was co-owner with St. Elias Stable of last year’s BC Juvenile winner, the recently retired Forte, the Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male of 2022.
Uncle Mo also was voted an Eclipse Award in 2010 after winning the BC Juvenile. By taking this year’s BC Juvenile, Fierceness becomes the favorite at this point for an Eclipse Award in his division.
Fierceness’ sire, City of Light, won the 2018 BC Dirt Mile. City of Light went on to win the Grade I Pegasus World Cup by 5 3/4 length in his final start before embarking on a stud career.
$1 MILLION JUVENILE FILLIES TURF (NOV. 3)
Results: (1) Hard to Justify, who paid $20.20, (2) Porta Fortuna, (3) She Feels Pretty.
Winner: Owned by Wise Racing; trained by Chad Brown; ridden by Flavien Prat; Kentucky-bred 2-year-old Justify filly.
Distance: 1 mile on turf. Final Time: 1:34.42. Starters: 14.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 85. Meditate won the 2022 BC Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland with a 89 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf: 89 (Lady Eli in 2001, Sharing in 2019).
Recap: The winner of this race was not hard to justify.
Hard to Justify and make it a record six BC Juvenile Fillies Turf victories for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer. Brown had previously won this race with Maram (2008), Lady Eli (2014), New Money (2016), Rushing Fall (2017), Newspaperofrecord (2018) and now you can add Hard to Justify to the list.
Hard to Justify had three things in common with Just F Y I, who earlier on Friday’s Breeders’ Cup “stars of tomorrow” card.
First, Hard to Justify and Just F Y I are both by the red-hot sire Justify, who in 2018 emulated Seattle Slew by being undefeated while sweeping the Triple Crown.
Second, Hard to Justify broke from post 12, as did Just F Y I.
Third, Hard to Justify received a terrific ride, just like Just F Y I. Flavien Prat skillfully was able to work out a beautiful trip despite the unpopular post. Hard to Justify was one path wide entering the first turn, then breathed down the neck of pacesetter Dreamfyre on the backstretch and far turn.
For a brief moment in upper stretch, it appeared the Hard to Justify might not finish 1-2-3. But she kept to her task and won by a half-length.
$2 MILLION JUVENILE FILLIES (NOV. 3)
Results: (1) Just F Y I, who paid $16.00, (2) Jody’s Pride, (3) Candied.
Winner: Owned by George Krikorian, trained by Bill Mott; ridden by Junior Alvarado; Kentucky-bred 2-year-old Justify filly.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 79. Wonder Wheel won the 2022 BC Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland with an 83 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Fillies: 107 (Tempera in 2001).
Distance: 1 1/16 miles on dirt. Final Time: 1:44.58. Starters: 12.
Recap: Talk that heavy 4-5 favorite Tamara had not trained with the same verve as she had going into her emphatic win in the Grade I Del Mar Debutante evidently proved to have validity.
Tamara set the early pace, but weakened in the stretch and finished seventh.
Junior Alvarado gave Just F Y I a splendid ride. Even though Just F Y I broke from the outside post in the field of 12, she was just two paths wide going into the clubhouse turn while stalking the odds-on favorite.
It became quite clear that Tamara was in big trouble when she was battling head-and-head for the lead with Just F Y I. turning into the stretch. Just F Y I drew clear near the eighth pole, then held on to win by neck.
This was Just F Y I’s third victory this year from as many starts. Prior to the Breeders’ Cup, she had won a maiden sprint at Saratoga on Aug. 26 and the Grade I Frizette Stakes on a sloppy track Oct. 7 at Aqueduct.
Just F Y I’s dam, Star Act, is by Street Cry, sire of the legendary Zenyatta, winner of the 2008 BC Distaff (known then as the BC Ladies’ Classic) and 2009 BC Classic. Zenyatta remains the only filly or mare to have ever won the BC Classic.
As for the highly regarded Tamara, Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella told Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen three days after the BC Juvenile Fillies that the filly will miss “a couple of months” of training after being diagnosed with a cracked splint bone.
“It’s not bad,” Mandella said. “She was off a little bit.”
It turned out that Tamara was unable to emulate her dam, Beholder, as a BC Juvenile Fillies winner. Beholder won the 2012 BC Juvenile Fillies. A three-time Breeders’ Cup winner and four-time Eclipse Award winner, Beholder was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.
$1 MILLION JUVENILE TURF SPRINT (NOV. 3)
Results: (1) Big Evs, who paid $8.40, (2) Valiant Force, (3) Starlust.
Winner: Owned by RP Racing; trained by Michael Appleby; ridden by Tyler Gaffalione; Irish-bred 2-year-old Blue Point colt.
Distance: 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. Starters: 12. Final Time: :55.31.
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 85. Mischief Magic won the 2022 BC Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland with an 89 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Turf Sprint: 90 (Bulletin in 2018, Golden Pal in 2020).
Recap: Big Eves was my top choice in my Breeders’ Cup selections for Xpressbet.com. My comment was: “This 2yo was only 5-1 vs. top older Euros.”
As I said on a number of radio programs and an Emerald Downs podcast, the key to this race for me was Big Eves being so respected by bettors in a turf sprint in England when facing 3-year-olds and older. He was just 5-1 -- yes, 5-1 -- against the likes of outstanding older European sprinters Live In The Dream and Highfield Princess. In fact, I installed Live In The Dream as the 9-2 morning line favorite in this year’s BC Turf Sprint.
After Big Evs lost against his elders, he rebounded to win the Group II Flying Childers Stakes by 2 3/5 lengths. That indicated to me that it was all systems go for Big Evs going into last Friday’s BC Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Off alertly, Big Evs raced just slightly off a torrid early pace (:20.71, :43.65) set by the filly Crimson Advocate, who was making her first start since winning the Group II Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 21.
Crimson Advocate and Big Evs were slugging it out for command in upper stretch. Big Evs then put the filly away to open a clear lead with about a sixteenth of a mile to go. Despite going so fast early, Big Evs managed to still have enough left in the tank to win by XX over fellow Euro shipper Valiant Force.
Valiant Force was gobbling up ground with a late charge, but he did not get to Big Evs even in the gallop-out after the finish. Big Evs still was well clear on the clubhouse turn.
There was a sentimental aspect to Big Evs’ victory. “Big Evs” was the nickname of a longtime close friend of Paul Teasdale, who as RP Racing owns the swift colt with wife Rachel. The friend, Paul Evans, died of lung cancer a year ago.
Who knows? Perhaps Big Evs will return to the U.S. from Europe next year to run in the BC Turf Sprint at Del Mar.