Updated on 11/03/2012 3:31PM

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf: George Vancouver spurts clear

Tom Keyser
George Vancouver springs a $20 upset in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

ARCADIA, Calif. - George Vancouver finally realized the promise his connections held out for him as he split horses in upper stretch and drew clear to 1 1/4-length victory in Saturday’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita.
Noble Tune, the 7-2 favorite, finished second by a neck over Balance the Books as trainer Chad Brown finished second and third in the race.

George Vancouver is owned by the Coolmore connections of Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier and Derrick Smith, trained by Aidan O’Brien, and ridden by Ryan Moore. These are the same connections that won last year’s Juvenile Turf with Wrote. All in all, European-based runners have won four of the six runnings of this race.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Saturday results and video replays]

Though he had one win from his first six starts, George Vancouver, a Kentucky-bred son of Henrythenavigator out of the Grade 1-winning dam Versailles Treaty, was viewed by O’Brien as one of his top 2-year-old prospects.

But the one thing O’Brien knew that George Vancouver needed to show his talent was firm ground, something that was in short supply this summer in Europe.

“We’ve been destroyed by soft ground in Europe all year,” said O’Brien, who won his seventh Breeders’ Cup race. “But we always expected [good things] from him the minute the ground turned for him.”

George Vancouver benefitted from a ground-saving ride from Moore, who won his fourth Breeders’ Cup race. Moore had George Vancouver on the rail from the outset and was up close as Summit County set the pace chased by Gervinho and I’mboundtoscore.

Turning for home, Moore needed some room and he split horses with George Vancouver in upper stretch. They were able to outkick Noble Tune, who went a few paths wider under Ramon Dominguez.

“All the way around he traveled very easy," Moore said. "He only had a very small gap, but I had that much horse - I had plenty to get through there. He actually was in front a little too soon. You always think it’s a short straight here, but it’s a little longer than people give it credit for.”

George Vancouver covered the mile in 1:33.78 over firm ground and returned $20.60 to win.

O’Brien said that George Vancouver would return to Ireland and be pointed to a 3-year-old campaign that could include the English Guineas and the French Guineas.

“He could be an English Guineas horse, but ground would be important,” O’Brien said.

Meanwhile, Brown took solace in the fact that both Noble Tune and Balance the Books ran the way they had trained, and finished just a neck apart.

“They both ran huge, ran into a good horse today,” Brown said. “They’re both good horses. I couldn’t be more proud of the two. They defeated most of this deep field. Both gave tremendous kick down the lane.”