10/31/2015 1:30PM

Mongolian Saturday by a neck in Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mongolian Saturday, ridden by Florent Geroux, wins the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint on Saturday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – In a result that exemplified the true international spirit of the Breeders’ Cup, Mongolian Saturday outlasted a game Lady Shipman by a neck to win the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on a chilly Saturday at Keeneland. Bobby’s Kitten, the defending Turf Sprint champion, finished fourth.

Mongolian Saturday is owned by the Mongolian Stable of Ganbaatar Dagvador and trained by Enebish Ganbat, who became the first Mongolian-born trainer to saddle a horse in the Breeders’ Cup. The horse was ridden to victory by the French-born Florent Geroux, his win aboard Mongolian Saturday his third in just four Breeders’ Cup mounts over the past two years.

Mongolian Saturday took a rather unorthodox path to the Breeders’ Cup winner’s circle, having been defeated this season in races at ThistleDown, Parx, and Mountaineer. He has spent much of his career on the road, having competed at 13 different racetracks for Ganbat, who purchased the son of Any Given Saturday for $60,000 as a yearling at Keeneland. 

Breaking from post No. 14, Mongolian Saturday rated within easy striking distance of the pacesetting Ready for Rye, engaged the leader turning into the stretch, edged clear approaching the eighth pole, then was fully extended to withstand Lady Shipman, the only filly in the 14-horse field.

Lady Shipman broke alertly, then was allowed to settle off the early pace by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., commenced her rally after angling five wide into the stretch, and was getting to the winner at the end. Green Mask was forced to steady early, then rallied belatedly to finish third, a half-length behind Lady Shipman.

Bobby’s Kitten was positioned a lot closer to the early pace than when he won this race down the hillside course at Santa Anita a year ago, swung wide into the stretch, but failed to offer a similar late response, finishing nearly four lengths behind the winner. Undrafted, a late-running third in the 2014 Turf Sprint, checked back early and had only one horse beaten after the opening quarter-mile before rallying belatedly near the inside to be fifth.

Mongolian Saturday’s victory was his seventh in 31 career outings. His winner’s share of $550,000 for the Turf Sprint is nearly $140,000 more than he’d banked from his 30 previous starts. Mongolian Saturday completed 5 1/2 furlongs over a “good” turf course in 1:03.19 and paid $33.80.

“Being a Mongolian, this is a big dream just to participate in this big event,” said Ganbat. “I was expecting him to run well; he’s been doing very, very well. We came here to win a Breeders’ Cup, and we did.”

Geroux, who won the Juvenile Fillies Turf on Friday aboard Catch a Glimpse, said he wishes they could hold the Breeders’ Cup races a few times a year.

“I’ve been very lucky, very fortunate so far in the Breeders’ Cup,” said Geroux. “I’d like to thank all the connections who have given me the opportunity, like this, to be here today. Good horses make me look good.”

Geroux said he was able to work out a perfect trip aboard Mongolian Saturday in the Turf Sprint.

“I was able to save some ground at the three-eighths pole, and when I asked him turning for home, he gave me a good kick and showed me how much heart he has,” said Geroux. “He was very professional.”

Trainer Kathleen O’Connell said she was proud of Lady Shipman.

“She ran her heart out,” said O’Connell. “That was a tough beat, but for a 3-year-old filly to come in second, and with all she’s accomplished, we are very, very proud of her.”