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Trip Notes: 2011 Breeders' Cup Saturday
Saturday, November 5th | Friday, November 4th
BC Marathon (race 3)
Afleet Again, winless since early 2010 when he won the Grade 2 Withers, continued his improved recent form as the 41-1 bomb lit up the tote board. The son of Grade 1 Belmont winner Afleet Alex bided his time, commenced a long, steady run while staying in the clear and swept past his rivals to win fairly easily. Birdrun stalked the pace, loomed ominously into the lane but couldn't fend off the winner. Giant Oak sat back, made a smart run to challenge for the lead in midstretch but like Birdrun couldn't finish with Afleet Again. The Europeans fared poorly as Brigantin ran 8th, Harrison's Cave 9th and Meeznah was eased. A. U. Miner, the favorite, was well back from the start and pulled up.
BC Juvenile Turf (race 4)
After some disappointments on grass Friday, the Europeans struck back as Wrote was an impressive winner. The talented import sat midpack, came with a smart run into the lane and powered past his rivals to win going away. Being by Group 1 English Derby winner and Grade 1 BC Turf winner High Chaparral he certainly looks like one who can train on. Excaper chased pacesetter Majestic City from the start, took over from that tiring rival into the lane, battled gamely when challenged by Farraj and while no match for the winner showed courage to hold 2nd. Farraaj stalked the pace, moved strongly to contend for the lead into the lane but couldn't sustain his run. Lucky Chappy was able to avoid getting hung out to dry by his outside post, as he lagged back, swung wide into the lane and finished well. On the other hand, Finale, the favorite, was done in by the post as he was extremely wide throughout.
BC Sprint (race 5)
Amazombie struck a blow for the Southern California sprinters as he powered home to get the victory and likely the Eclipse Award as top sprinter. He sat about 5 lengths off a sizzling, contested pace, began his run on the far turn, came through between horses and kept on strongly to edge past a stubborn Force Freeze. The latter ran brilliantly. He dueled early with Euroears and Giant Ryan through dazzling splits, put those 2 away turning for home while still seemingly in hand, opened up by midstretch but couldn't fend off the winner. Jackson Bend sat well back, came with a strong run into the lane but never really was a threat to the top 2. Aikenite was well back and plugged along to get 4th. Big Drama, the defending champ, seemed to be in a great spot stalking the 3 speedsters but then fell away when the real racing began. He's been retired. A lack of activity this year (this was just his 3rd start of the year) may have been his undoing. Euroears broke a step slow but rushed up to take a short lead while dueling but then gave way once headed turning for home.
BC Turf Sprint (race 6)
Regally Ready validated his favoritism with a deceptively strong win to prove he's the top grass sprinter around. He had the speed to press a strong pace while hugging the rail, shot through to the lead into the lane and really didn't have a nervous moment through the lane. County Day, a longshot, wasn't far off the pace, swung out into the lane and came home resolutely but just couldn't get to the winner. Perfect Officer sat back and finished well. Caracortado showed a bit more speed than expected, stayed on well but could be the 5-furlong distance was just too sharp as he couldn't make up the needed ground. Hoof It blew the far turn and carried out Havelock, so both were eliminated.
BC Dirt Mile (race 7)
Caleb's Posse capped a superb year with a dominating victory. He lagged well back while The Factor and Shackleford set a modest pace, swung out into the lane and blasted past his rivals to win in a romp. He's now a Grade 3 winner routing, Grade 1 and 2 winner sprinting, and now a Grade 1 winner going a mile and his name should now be in the 3-year-old title picture. Shackleford ran very well. He dogged The Factor from the start, moved up to challenge and put away that rival while seemingly well in hand, took command into the lane and briefly looked the winner before Caleb's Posse came storming on the scene. He'll winter in Florida. Tres Borrachos, the longest shot in the race, was last early and finished well to just get 3rd, though he was never a factor. Trappe Shot stalked the pace, had to check going into the far turn but got going again while wide and kept on decently. Wilburn also disappointed as he moved up nicely on the inside going to the far turn but then just as quickly backed out of it. The Factor broke well, got his lead through modest splits but gave way in a disappointing effort.
BC Turf (race 8)
As expected, this proved a European show as St. Nicholas Abbey gave Europe its 11th win in the last 13 editions of this race. Midday held up the start when reluctant to go from the main track to the turf course. St. Nicholas Abbey got a dream trip saving ground sitting midpack while stablemate Await the Dawn set the pace, bided his time, moved closer turning for home, swung out for clear sailing and powered home to turn what seemed a competitive event into a comfortable win. Sea Moon lagged back, commenced a smart run on the far turn to sweep to the lead but couldn't counter the winner's charge. Brilliant Speed spoiled a Euro sweep as he stalked the pace, challenged with Sea Moon into the lane and while unable to keep up with the top 2 stayed on well. Sarafina was pulling and eager early while midpack, seemed to settle going to the clubhouse turn, moved up eagerly again to be just behind the leaders going to the far turn but lacked the needed punch when the field came for home. Being rank and aggressive early may have taken the run out of her. Midday seemed in a good stalking position while saving ground but never mustered a run.
BC Juvenile (race 9)
Hansen showed he's the real deal and that he has loads of courage as the unbeaten son of Tapit led all the way around. As expected he bounced right out to the lead. He wasn't able to get away on the far turn as in his other races, and in fact looked in deep water when hooked by Creative Cause and Union Rags turning for home but rebuffed those challenge and gamely persevered to just hold on at the wire. Union Rags was midpack while wide on the first turn, and still wide going down the backside. He started a smart wide run on the far turn, loomed ominously into the lane as if he was going to just roll on past for victory, shifted his ground as he tired some in the lane but kept on doggedly to just miss. Creative Cause stalked the pace, moved up with Union Rags to challenge Hansen, tried gamely through the lane but just couldn't quite keep pace with those 2. Dullahan was last, far back early and finished full with good energy though he was never really a threat. Drill likewise was well back and made some headway. Alpha was fractious in the gate, sat midpack early but failed to make a move.
BC Mile (race 10)
Court Vision picked the right time to turn back the clock when he was a top miler as he posted a huge upset as he goes off to stud. Court Vision sat far back, stayed wide and in the clear, commenced a strong run on the turn to surge into contention and battle and battled gamely to the wire to just edge Turallure and upend legendary Goldikova. Turallure showed his super Grade 1 Woodbine Mile effort no fluke as despite an impossible post (13) and the presence of monster Goldikova and other toughies he ran super to just miss. He was last in the field to the far turn, swung out behind Court Vision to find clear sailing and finished full of run to just miss. Goldikova, after an historic 4th straight win in this race, got a dream trip from her rail draw. She showed good speed to stalk, looked for room turning for home, forced her way out into the lane (which prompted an objection from another rider), looked like the winner when she then made the lead but couldn't outfinish the top 2. Gio Ponti save ground but that left him behind horses but he followed Goldikova through the lane in yet another good run. Courageous Cat was right next to Goldikova and took the worst of it when that gal forced her way off the rail, causing him to check sharply to lose all chance. He nearly went down. Byword was also affected.
BC Classic (race 11)
Drosselmeyer gave rider Mike Smith some redemption in the biggest race. After getting nipped on Zenyatta here last year, he lagged back, swung wide into the lane and put in a strong sustained run to get the money. This helps validate his 2010 Grade 1 Belmont win which some viewed as a bit fluky. The only 2 times this horse teamed with rider Smith resulted in wins in the Grade 1 Belmont and this. Game on Dude ran too good to lose. He broke sharply and went right to the lead. He was able to set modest splits while being chased by Uncle Mo and So You Think, looked in trouble tturning for home but got rid of Uncle Mo, then tackled from the inside by So You Think but rebuffed that challenge only to find Drosselmeyer's charge to the far outside too much to handle. Ruler on Ice sat back and put in a good run for 3rd, showing the importance of stamina as that means the last 2 Belmont winners ran 1-3. He may point for the Clark as well, or the Group 1 Japan Cup Dirt Dec. 4. Havre de Grace sat just behind the leaders, made a threatening move into the lane but wasn't able to do enough. She'll reportedly be back in 2012. Flat Out, the favorite, sat midpack, put in a solid rally but was never really a factor. He could go in the Clark as well. So You Think showed eagerness to be just behind Game on Dude early, looked scary turning for home but couldn't find room, veered to the rail to make his bid but couldn't sustain it. Uncle Mo dogged Game on Dude from the start, looked scary on the far turn when challenging for the lead, but then fell away once that challenge was rebuffed.