11/01/2014 8:02PM

Karakontie surges to win Breeders' Cup Mile

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Barbara D. Livingston
Karakontie and jockey Stephane Pasquier win the Breeders' Cup Mile on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Trainer Jonathan Pease does not often send runners to the Breeders’ Cup, but when he does, it is with strong intent.

Pease’s first Breeders’ Cup starter since 2005, Karakontie, gave the French-based, English-born trainer his second Mile victory. Spinning World won the 1997 Mile after finishing second the year before.

Karakontie’s rider, Stephane Pasquier, not only won with his first Breeders’ Cup mount, he gave Karakontie a flawless ride after breaking from post 14, a draw that had never produced a one-mile turf winner at Santa Anita. And Karakontie, a Japanese-bred by the American sire Bernstein, capped a tremendous day for the Niarchos family, which, racing as Flaxman Holdings Ltd., not only bred and owns Karakontie but bred and owns BC Turf winner Side Glance.

Karakontie was let go at a huge price, 30-1, despite clearly having the qualifications to contend in the Mile. Perhaps it was the wide draw that turned bettors off, but Pasquier wound up working out a perfect trip for Karakontie, who closed into a torrid pace without ever finding trouble or losing more than nominal ground.

“I had a dream run listening to the letter of Jonathan’s instructions,” Pasquier said through an interpreter.

Anodin, beaten one length by Karakontie, was not so lucky, encountering a spot of trouble just past the half-mile pole. Waiting there might have cost Anodin a victory, as he closed fastest of all and was gaining on the winner in the final half-furlong. Trade Storm finished third, giving Europeans a sweep of the trifecta, with Summer Front fourth.

Toronado, the 2-1 favorite, got hot before going out to the track, broke like a shot. and tracked the sizzling pace of Obviously. He cornered poorly coming into the stretch and, according to jockey Richard Hughes, “hit a wall,” fading to eighth.

Toronado actually ran head-and-head with the wickedly fast Obviously through the first part of a suicidal 21.95-second opening quarter-mile before backing off to track the pace from second. The half went in 45.16, and by then, Karakontie’s wide draw was a distant memory. Pasquier had maneuvered him two paths from the fence, tracking from ninth, and there he sat until the turn, when Karakontie began creeping up.

Coming between horses, Karakontie emerged just as the pace began taking a toll on Obviously, and he seized the lead, finishing with sufficient energy to hold clear Anodin.

Anodin, trained by Freddie Head, rode Miesque (Karakontie’s third dam) to victory in two Miles and trained Goldikova to three victories. In Anodin, he has a horse who has been compromised by bad luck on several occasions and had found misfortune again in what Head said was probably his final start.

Trade Storm, the Woodbine Mile winner, held his excellent form, rallying from 12th to finish third, a head in front of Obviously. Then came Mustajeeb, Tom’s Tribute, Toronado, Seek Again, Kaigun, Grand Arch, Veda, Tourist, and Sayaad.

The winning time for the Mile was 1:32.88, and Karakontie, out of the mare Sum Is Up, paid a whopping $62 to win. That is a huge price for a horse rightly described by his trainer as one of Europe’s best 2-year-olds of 2013, when Karakontie won three of four starts, including the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.

This year, Karakontie won the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains, the French 2000 Guineas, and the country’s most important one-mile race for 3-year-olds before failing to stay nine furlongs in the Prix du Jockey Club and enduring a nightmarish trip when 11th in the Prix de la Foret on the Oct. 5 Arc undercard.

Pease, who now is 2 for 8 with his Breeders’ Cup starters, had several months ago pegged American-style racing at Santa Anita, tight turns, and fast turf as potentially suitable to Karakontie.

He was right again.
 

ErnestoErnie93 More than 1 year ago
Kudos goes out to DRF's Mike Watchmaker on selecting Karakonite in this race.
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Hmm. I could have sworn the BC Turf winner was Main Sequence, not Side Glance. Of course you are accurate, however, in stating that the Niarchos family owns both horses.
Elio More than 1 year ago
Still missed Wise Dan. I think he would have beaten this group.
Dingle More than 1 year ago
Yeah, right, lets pretend that Sweet Return didn't win from the #14 hole at SA going one mile on turf on March 6, 2004. Nice work of fiction though!
mr jp's cheerleader More than 1 year ago
That's right. It was the Kilroe Mile, with Gary Stevens riding Sweet Return. I think he was about 10-1.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
made a big score in this race...but the last race left a bitter taste ..the stewards at santa anita are idiots..even after a good feeling you see injustice and the happy goes away.
BearsyZoo More than 1 year ago
Wow. Those top two finishers were freaky fast. I think Obviously ran great too.
jjklavins More than 1 year ago
much the best @ 30-1 - foaled in Japan, damsire was Sunday Silence - lots to like