11/06/2017 11:08AM

Trip Notes for Nov. 3-4: Breeders' Cup weekend


Nov. 3

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (race 6)

COMMENT: Rushing Fall had been dazzling in her first two starts, both big wins, and she continued in that vein here with another splendid display to give trainer Chad Brown his fourth win in this race and his third in in the last four years. From what many assumed would be a dreadful post (No. 11) she broke decently, got position toward the back while wide and in the clear, and yet while not getting hung out to try, maintained her position there going to the far turn, suddenly came with a surge as she launched a powerful wide run to circle the field, surged past her stablemate Significant Form once straightened away and stayed on gamely to keep a couple hard-trying closers at bay. She looks eerily similar to another Brown superstar who won this race in 2014 – Lady Eli. These owners also won this in 2016 (New Money Honey). Best Performance has now finished second in five straight as she again ran well. From her rail slot she sat midpack after being in tight going into the first run, moved just off the rail a bit which allowed favored Happily to take the rail to her inside, came with a smart between horses, doggedly chased the winner, briefly looked scary but couldn’t get to her. September was extremely unlucky yet again. She had a troubled trip when a sharp second, beaten a nose, in a Group 1 in England last time out, and here she blew the start, getting away a couple lengths behind the field. That did allow her to move to the inside to save ground, though she remained last, started to make a run on the far turn, pitched extremely wide in the lane and finished resolutely for third, a terrific effort considering her terrible start. Significant Form, also from the Brown barn and like her winning stablemate an impressive winner of her first two starts, sat just behind the leaders while between horses, came with a smart run on the far turn, grabbed the lead turning for home but couldn’t finish with the top trio. Fatale Bere ran deceptively well as she lagged well back early, came with a strong wide run into the lane to pose a threat but couldn’t quite sustain it, though she was beaten by just 2 1/2 lengths. Happily, favored after Group 1 wins in Ireland and France, didn’t break well. In fact, in the first 100 yards the only horse she had beaten was stablemate September who broke terribly. She then had to check going to the first turn, remained inside, steadily advanced to be midpack going down the backstretch just inside of Best Performance who started on the rail, remained inside saving ground, cut the corner into the lane but had to check in traffic and wasn’t really persevered with once all was lost. The footing may be a tad firmer than she prefers and maybe a mile, at least run U.S. conditions/style, may be a bit sharp for her.                                                                                                     

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (race 7)

COMMENT: Battle of Midway showed he could be a serious horse when second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby and third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. But it’s possible this shorter game is his forte. His only other start at this trip came at this track in the summer and the result was a huge win so he showed his love for this track and distance again here. It didn’t start too well as he broke decently but while midpack got pushed out quite wide on the first turn. He remained there going down the backstretch as Sharp Azteca set a brisk pace under pressure from Gato del Oro, steadily advanced going to the far turn, came with a smart wide run into the lane to be abreast of the leaders, battled gamely into the lane with Sharp Azteca as it soon became a two-horse race while outside that rival, finally got the better of him late and edged away at the finish. It’s trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s second win in this (Dakota Phone, 2010). Sharp Azteca ran huge in defeat. He went right to the lead, took constant pressure from Gato del Oro and favorite Mor Spirit, dispatched with those two turning for home but was immediately challenged by Battle of Midway, battled back gamely while on the inside, looked as though he might prevail but then finally relented in the final half-furlong while finishing far clear of the others. Awesome Slew sat back while saving ground, though not as far back as is sometimes his want. He steadily advanced while saving ground, cut the corner into the lane as the leaders were a few lanes off the fence, tried to make a run at the top two while moving well off the inside once straightened away, proved no match for those two but kept to his task to hold third. Practical Joke lagged well back early after a slow start from his far outside post, but was able to move over to save ground, came off the inside going to the far turn, started to make a run on the turn and into the lane while still quite wide to look briefly threatening but was unable to sustain his run, flattening out some in the final furlong. Mor Spirit, favored despite having not run since his tour de force when winning the Grade 1 Met Mile in the spring, broke well, seemed in a good spot the pace the pace in third but was asked to move forward to challenge on the far turn and was unable to do so. Accelerate didn’t show his customary speed and never mustered a run in a disappointing effort considering he’d won three of four here, the lone loss being a good third in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic this summer. Cupid sat midpack, crept closer going to the far turn while wide but then fell apart, ending up last. The Grade 1 winner is reportedly retiring.

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (race 8)

COMMENT: The addition of blinkers and some maturity have turned Mendelssohn into a beast now likely befitting his $3 million price tag. The half-brother to multiple champion Beholder had raced inconsistently and greenly in Europe until blinkers were added for the Group 1 Dewhurst last time and he came home strongly to be a good second to superstar stablemate US Navy Flag. He moved forward again here as he gave trainer Aidan O’Brien and rider Ryan Moore their fourth win in this race, all in the last seven runnings. From his rail slot he was urged out of the gate and responded, briefly being on the pace but tucking in just behind pacesetter Sands of Mali by the clubhouse turn. He traveled well while just behind that rival, who set a strong pace, continued to stay on the rail to save ground, looked briefly in trouble when trapped in behind horses on the far turn when seemingly full of run, but found a seam, came out and around the tiring Sands of Mali, opened up and had little trouble keeping a number of rivals at bay in the final half-furlong as he basically came home under a hand ride. O’Brien has mentioned before about this guy’s dirt pedigree, hinting a possible tilt at the Kentucky Derby next year, though obviously that’s a long way off. Untamed Domain, winner of the Grade 2 Summer on Woodbine turf last time, sat well back after a sluggish start, steadily advanced to the far turn, swung very wide into the lane and finished strongly to close the gap on the winner, though the issue had pretty much already been put to bed. Voting Control, a troubled second in the Grade 3 Pilgrim on Belmont turf last time out, steadied going into the first turn while midpack, was able to maintain his stride while staying there, not far at all behind the eventual winner who was to his inside, came with a smart run between horses into the lane and finished well to be a good third. Could he be trainer Chad Brown’s next year’s Bricks and Mortar? Catholic Boy, winner of Saratoga’s Grade 3 With Anticipation, was another who was in tight early going into the first turn, managed to save ground as he sat back, came with a good run in the lane but just got edged for third. Aside from the winner, Beckford, a Group 2 winner and Group1 placed in Europe, did the best of the European raiders. He had trouble, too, as he was in tight early to get away slowly to be last early, remained toward the back while saving ground, hugged the rail throughout and finished with a flurry in a fine effort. Masar, a Group 2 winner in England and Group 1 placed in France, was in tight early to be well back after the break, had his rider lose his iron going to the far turn, swung wide into the lane and finished decently. James Garfield, a Group 2 winner in England, was away slowly, angled in soon after the start to chase the pace, moved to the inside by the far turn to save ground, came out into the lane but was unable to make a dent.                                                                                                                        

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Distaff (race 9)

COMMENT: Forever Unbridled likely laid claim to championship older distaff honors with a strong performance to beat a powerful bunch. Freshened off a win over division powerhouse Songbird in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga Aug. 26, she bided her time early as Champagne Room set a modest pace under some pressure from Paradise Woods, swooped into contention with a strong wide run on the far turn, opened up some in to the lane and looked long gone but had to bear down to keep hard-trying sophomore Abel Tasman at bay in the final half-furlong. She’s run just three times this year but all three were big wins, pretty amazing considering she came back from surgery to remove a bone chip in her left front ankle. Owner Charles Fipke put two huge hurdles in front of her for 2018 – facing males in the Grade 1 Pegasus and in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup. Abel Tasman likely clinched 3-year-old filly honors as well with a fine runner-up effort. A three-time Grade 1 winner (Kentucky Oaks, Acorn, CCA Oaks) but who lost the Grade 1 Cotillion last time when making an early rank move going down the backstretch, showed more maturity and patience here as she sat last, though wasn’t too far back, from the start, edged closer going to the far turn, swung wide into the lane, doggedly went after the winner but couldn’t quite get to her. Paradise Woods showed she’s not some one-dimensional speedball as while her two big Grade 1 wins came when she led her foes on a merry chase, this time broke well but was content to dog pacesetting longshot Champagne Room who shot out of the gate to go right to the lead, moved up to challenge that foe turning for home, was getting the better of her just as Forever Unbridled ranged up on her outside, tried to battle back but couldn’t keep up with the top two in the final half-furlong. Elate, favored off two romping wins in New York, seemed in a great spot stalking the pace after a bit of a slow start, moved closer on the far turn to loom a big threat but then failed to go on with it in a somewhat disappointing effort. The good news is a bunch of bigshot 3-year-olds (Abel Tasman, Paradise Woods, Elate and Unique Bella) are supposed to remain in training next year so they should have some heady battles. Stellar Wind was extremely disappointing. Previously unbeaten in three starts here, she bobbled a bit at the start but had the speed to sit third just behind the two pacesetters while saving ground, looked well positioned as she remained there down the backstretch but was then asked to get closer going into the far turn not only failing to respond but giving way readily to end up last. It’s a very disappointing way for this multiple Grade 1 winner and champion to go out as this is likely her last start as she’s set to be sold at auction next week.                                                                                                                       

Nov. 4

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (race 4)

COMMENT: Every once in a while you get that reminder about a classic racing saying: pace makes the race. That was never more evident than here as winner Caledonia Road got a dream pace set-up, closing from well back to get the win and throw a wrench into the 2-year-old filly championship picture. Coming off a decent rallying second to Separationofpowers in the Grade 1 Frizette, she sat well back as favorite Moonshine Memories and Alluring Star dueled through fast splits, pushed along by the other favorites Separationofpowers and Heavenly Love, swung wide on the far turn, continued her solid run, able to reel in then-leader Alluring Star in the lane and edge clear. She’s off to Florida for the winter with her goal the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill next May. Alluring Star ran big in defeat. She dueled from the start outside Moonshine Memories, got the better of that foe, who’d beaten her in the Grade 1 Chandelier last time out, grabbed the lead coming into the lane, opened up some but was obviously weary from her early toils and while unable to fend off the winner kept on well for second. The Grade 1 Starlet at Los Alamitos Dec. 9 could be next. Considering the track seemed to be playing slow early those fractions were really strong. Blonde Bomber, a longshot coming off a big stakes win over much lesser at Gulfstream Park, sat well back from the start, bided her time, pitched very wide on the far turn and into the lane and finished decently for third, though she was never really a threat to the winner. Separationofpowers, smart winner of the Grade 1 Frizette, got a nice stalking position from her far outside post after breaking a bit slowly, was asked for run going into the far turn and plugged along as the others who attended the pace, save Alluring Star, gave way. Moonshine Memories, the favorite, broke sharply, went right to the lead, was quickly joined by Alluring Star to her outside going into the first turn, volleyed back and forth with that rival, seemed to be going well on the far turn when taking the lead again but soon was running on fumes and gave way in a disappointing effort. She’ll reportedly be freshened and target a Santa Anita return. Heavenly Love, big winner of the Grade 1 Alcibiades, sat just behind the dueling leaders while saving ground, but like the other early leaders was too close to that strong pace, came under a ride on the far turn to try and get involved but came up empty. She and the other speed types are surely better than this but were undone by being on or near such a brisk pace.

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (race 5)

COMMENT: Trainer Peter Miller not only got his first Breeders’ Cup win but filled the exacta as his Stormy Liberal rallied to post the upset over his Richard’s Boy. Claimed for $40,000 just over a year ago, Stormy Liberal was a non-factor eighth in the Grade 3 Jaipur on Belmont turf in June. Freshened and returned to his backyard he sat midpack from the start, saving ground as Pure Sensation set a blistering pace with heavy favorite Lady Aurelia stalking. Stormy Liberal bided his time while staying inside continuing to save ground, came off the fence into the lane and surged between horses, getting up in the final strides to edge stablemate Richard’s Boy. The latter stalked a very strong pace set by Pure Sensation, came with a smart run in the lane, grabbed the lead inside the eighth pole and looked like the winner until his stablemate surged past late. It was a super effort in defeat. Disco Partner, the world-record holder going 6 furlongs on turf and coming off a strong win in the Belmont Turf Sprint last month, broke decently from his rail slot but was quickly outrun, got shuffled well back going to the far turn but continued to save ground, moved out for room in the lane and finished strongly between horses in a fine try. Marsha lagged back, made a mild move into the lane but found these too quick as she finished midpack. Washington D C lagged well back early after a slow start, moved to the rail for the stretch run, and finished with a flourish, though he’d left himself far too much to do. Lady Aurelia was the disappointment. Heavily favored off a Group 1 win and second in England, she broke well to be just behind early pacesetter Pure Sensation while inside, moved off the rail to get into stalking position going to the far turn but was then asked to get more involved and not only failed to muster a run but ending up giving way, finishing toward the back of the pack.

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (race 6)

COMMENT: As in the Juvenile Fillies, the favorite, in this case Unique Bella, went too fast too soon, setting it up for a closer and huge longshot Bar of Gold took advantage. Generally considered a wet-track specialist (five of her six prior wins came on wet going), she was cutting back in distance after finishing a dull sixth in the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland last month. She sat far back early as heavy favorite Unique Bella shot out to a clear lead, setting hot splits, was still well back turning for home, swung wide into the lane for clear sailing and finished resolutely to just nip a very game Ami’s Mesa. Coincidentally, Bar of Gold and Ami’s Mesa ran 2-1 in the Grade 2 Presque Isle Masters last time out. This was reportedly her career swansong. Ami’s Mesa, trying dirt for the first time, ran huge. Coming off four straight wins, the last three being graded stakes on synthetic tracks at Presque Isle Downs in the aforementioned win over Bar of Gold in the Presque Isle Masters, and Woodbine, she was content to stalk outside as Unique Bella set that brisk pace, ranged up on the outside widest of a few who moved up to challenge Unique Bella into the lane, went on with it to grab the lead, looked like the winner despite Bar of Gold charging to her outside and Carina Mia challenging to her inside and only got nipped in the final stride. Carina Mia, favored in last year’s edition, broke well from the rail, steadily advanced to be a couple lengths behind the pacesetter while continuing to save ground, crept closer turning for home, came off the inside, found a lane between horses, mounted a stiff challenge inside Ami’s Mesa but just seemed to hang a little late while finishing a good third. Skye Diamonds, the second choice after two big Grade 2 wins this summer, lagged back, as is her custom, and finished with good energy but just couldn’t do enough to get into the mix with the top three. She reportedly stays in training with this race next year at Churchill as her primary goal. Paulassilverlining, winner of two Grade 1’s and a Grade 2 earlier this year, broke well, was urged early to get position but soon found herself midpack as the pace was too hot, came off the inside into the lane and ran evenly to finish midpack. She likely now goes off to the breeding shed, as her owners the Juddmonte Stables purchased her earlier this year with the intent of breeding her to Arrogate. Unique Bella, the heavy favorite, broke sharply, went right to the lead, moved toward the inside while still clear and setting strong fractions, had a few contenders come to her turning for home and quickly backed out of it in a disappointing effort. It was obviously a case of using up too much fuel on the lead, though while she’s won sprinting she may be better using her speed going long. Finest City, the defending champ, stalked the pace while inside, loomed a threat into the lane but couldn’t sustain her run. Finley’sluckycharm, a multiple graded stakes winner this year, stalked the pace between, tried to get closer on the far turn but after chasing Unique Bella’s hot pace came up empty when it mattered.  By the Moon, winner of the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga this summer, was well back early, was in tight and had to steady going into the far turn and never really got going thereafter. She’s reportedly to retire and like rival Paulassilverlining has a date with Arrogate. A main-track profile is starting to emerge, and for now it’s favoring the outside – though it must be noted the two main-track Breeders’ Cup winners so far got dream pace scenarios.

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (race 7)

COMMENT: The upsets continue as 3-year-old Wuheida, a European raider, was brilliant in victory. She missed Keeneland’s Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth last month with a foot bruise but there were obviously no lingering effects from that as she stalked while saving ground as Zipessa set a solid pace under pressure from Avenge, moved closer on the far turn while saving ground, came off the inside to go around the tiring pacesetter into the lane, surged to a clear lead and had enough of a buffer to get to the line before a hard-charging Rhododendron to her inside. The latter, who had narrowly beaten Wuheida in the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera in France last time out but breaking from an impossible far outside post, was away slowly to be well back while understandably very wide coming out of the chute, managed to move over a few lanes to avoid getting hung out to dry on the first turn while still well back, bided her time there, came through smartly between horses into the lane, moved to the rail, finished with a flourish but just couldn’t quite get to the winner. Considering the post and the trip she ran splendidly. Cambodia continued her love affair with this course. Coming off two straight Grade 2 wins on this course she stalked just outside the eventual winner, moved up with that rival coming into the lane to challenge for the lead, but couldn’t quite finish with the top two in a fine try. Dacita led the Chad Brown brigade (Lady Eli, Grand Jete) as the multiple Grade 1 winner sat far back early, pitched wide on the far turn to start her move, pitched wider into the lane, finished well but had left herself with too much to do. Queen’s Trust, the defending champ though with just one third in five starts this year, lagged back not far behind Lady Eli, rallied just behind that rival into the lane while between horses and came with a smart run in the lane. This trip is surely short of her preference. Lady Eli, generally considered the top turf distaffer in the U.S., broke well but was rank early coming out of the chute. She got jostled between horses but settled midpack once on the main turf course, moved closer going to the far turn as if positioned to unleash her customary strong run but the run never came as she was one-paced thereafter. She did return with cuts down the back of both hind legs, and also lost her left hind shoe, which all probably happened in the chute when she was jostled significantly between horses. But, considering her marvelous career it’s a bit disappointing for her to go out this way, as this was likely her career finale. Grand Jete sat back behind stablemate Lady Eli, tried to rally outside that rival turning for home but flattened out. She’s had a busy season in that she ran had in a few races and that may have told here.

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Sprint (race 8)

COMMENT: Roy H likely put his name on the Eclipse Award as top male sprinter as he got a dream trip and showed courage to prevail. He broke well and got a great position stalking pacesetters Takaful and Imperial Hint, moved closer while outside those foes coming into the lane, doggedly went after then-leader Imperial Hint, battled with that foe, got the better of him inside the final half-furlong and edged clear. He could easily be unbeaten in six starts this year as his lone loss, a second, came here when he was impeded by a loose horse (sprint champion Drefong, no less). Imperial Hint was gallant in defeat. He broke well from his far outside slot, dogged pacesetter Takaful to the top of the lane, took over from that foe, battled back gamely when confronted by Roy H but couldn’t quite finish with that rival. Mind Your Biscuits, arguably the top sprinter earlier this year but a bit under the radar after a dull fifth to Drefong in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga, got back on his game, sitting well back early off the strong pace (in fact, was last), pitching very wide on the far turn and into the lane, finishing well, though he was never really a danger to the top two. Ransom the Moon, who beat Roy H in the aforementioned Bing Crosby before a disappointing run when fourth to that foe in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship last time out, bided his time early while outside, loomed a threat on the far turn and was still in contention into the lane before flattening out in the final furlong. Drefong, the defending champ who’d only run once this year, winning the aforementioned Forego (was supposed to run prior in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby here but lost his rider), broke decently but didn’t show his customary high speed, instead stalking midpack while staying inside, was urged to get closer going to the far turn but just didn’t really have it. He’s another favorite (Moonshine Memories, Lady Aurelia, Unique Bella, Lady Eli) to go down in flames. Takaful, winner of the Grade 2 Vosburgh from off the pace, this time showed more speed as he went right to the lead, took pressure from Imperial Hint to his outside and gave way readily once headed, finishing last. This seemed to confirm the earlier notion that while the main track isn’t tilted toward a style bias, it may well be tilted toward a path bias as horses outside seem to be doing best.

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Mile (race 9)

COMMENT: World Approval had already proven he was the best miler in the U.S. but a super performance here extended his realm to worldwide as he gamely beat back a powerful group of milers. Again, it was his tactical speed as he broke well, got position just behind main speedsters Midnight Storm and Heart to Heart as they set a strong pace, moved out some for room on the far turn, didn’t immediately pick up the leaders into the lane but finally got going, grabbed the lead by midstretch and edged clear of a phalanx of closers. He did the family proud as half-brother Miesque’s Approval won this race as well (2006). He’s a gelding so if he stays in training he could try to reprise this at Churchill next year. Lancaster Bomber raced with the eventual winner from the start while to his inside, moved with that rival on the turn and into the lane but just couldn’t finish with that foe while running on well. It was the same story in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile as these two ran one-two in that race as well. Blackjackcat, winner of the Obviously Mile at Santa Anita last month, showed he belonged as he despite a brutal post (No. 13) he lagged well back early, remained there to the far turn, swung wide into the lane and finished full of run despite his rider losing his whip. Suedois, impressive rallying winner of the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last month, sat midpack from the start, remained there to the top of the lane, moved wider for room and finished strongly but just wasn’t quite good enough. Ribchester, considered Europe’s top miler but coming back in just two weeks and traveling halfway around the world, sat just behind Suedois from the start, remained there while between horses, made a run in the lane but just couldn’t quite get there, though he was beaten by just a head, neck and nose for second. He is retiring. Zelzal was unlucky as the French Group 1 winner lagged back, came with a run in the lane, ran into a wall of horses forcing him to lose his momentum, moved down to the rail and accelerated again but it was too late. Roly Poly blew the start to be last early, tried to advance going down the backstretch when moved to the inside, came out into the stretch but was never able to get involved.

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (race 10)

COMMENT: A maiden had never won a Breeders’ Cup race. But Good Magic was no ordinary maiden. A $1 million son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin he was a good second in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont last month and stepped up his game further here to stamp himself a prime candidate for next year’s Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. He got a great trip as he stalked while US Navy Flag set a solid pace under pressure from Solomini, ranged closer to those rivals on the turn, doggedly went after then-leader Solomini into the lane and had little trouble reeling in that rival and drawing clear for the emphatic win. Solomini, last time second to heavy favorite Bolt d’Oro in the Grade 1 FrontRunner at Santa Anita, dogged US Navy Flag from the start while on his flank, moved up alongside that rival on the far turn, had little trouble putting away that tiring rival, opened up some into the lane but was quickly confronted by a charging Good Magic and couldn’t keep pace with that rival in the final furlong while staying on well for second. Bolt d’Oro, the heavy favorite off three big wins, was very wide on the clubhouse turn while lagging back, remained wide going down the backstretch, started to advance on the far turn while still very wide and kept to his task decently though he was never really a danger to the winner. Considering how wide he traveled it was still a good run and his stock shouldn’t decrease much. Givemeaminit, another maiden, ran well as coming off a fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last month he lagged back and kept to his task decently to get fourth, though he was never a factor as he was beaten a long ways (13 1/2 lengths). Firenze Fire, who beat Good Magic when winning the Champagne but who reportedly had a slight fever a few days ago, sat back, made a mild move going to the far turn to improve his position but then gave way. Free Drop Billy, impressive winner of the Breeders’ Futurity, was the disappointment as he was a bit slow into stride, sat well back while saving ground, made some headway turning for home while staying inside but then came up empty. US Navy Flag, considered by many as the top juvenile male in Europe after successive Group 1 wins on turf, tried dirt for the first time, broke well from the rail going straight to the lead, was immediately taken on by Solomini, set a solid pace under pressure from that foe while staying on the fence but wilted once headed on the far turn. It’s surely back to turf for him after this experiment.

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Turf (race 11)

COMMENT: Race complexion changed dramatically when Ulysses, the morning-line favorite, scratched Friday evening (reportedly came out of his breeze Thursday with an inflamed left front fetlock). Even without one of its key representatives Europe won this race again as French import Talismanic proved best. He got a dream trip, stalking while saving ground just behind the stalking Highland Reel as Oscar Performance set a modest pace under minimal pressure from Beach Patrol to his outside, remained inside throughout, came off the rail some into the lane to make his run, came through gamely between then-leader Beach Patrol and gallant defending champ Highland Reel and proved best. He will reportedly stay in training, and may plan for defense of this title at Churchill next fall. Beach Patrol was his usual good self again, showing enough speed to be on pacesetter Oscar Performance’s hip from the start, remained there to the far turn, crept closer approaching the lane, surged past that foe to grab the lead, continued on gamely after shifting toward the inside but couldn’t quite fend off the winner. Highland Reel, who reportedly had a slight setback this summer, hence no run in the Group 1 Arc de Triomphe, but a decent third in the Group 1 Champion Stakes in England two weeks ago, was a bit sweaty going to the gate, though that’s his norm. He got a dream trip, breaking well for his inside post, sitting third just behind Oscar Performance to the inside of Beach Patrol, was asked to get closer turning for home, swung out for room, closed steadily but just wasn’t quite good enough. He set to go off to stud, though his connections said it’s possible he runs once more in the Group 1 in Hong Kong Vase, a race he won in 2015 and in which he was second in 2016. Sadler’s Joy was far back early, as is his want, started to advance on the far turn, swung wide into the lane and finished well but was never really a threat to the top trio. Seventh Heaven, filly stablemate of Highland Reel, was well back early after a slow start, remained there to the far turn, was in tight when trying to make a run into the lane, got going again and finished well up the rail. Oscar Performance went right to the lead, as expected, set a modest pace under some pressure from Beach Patrol while holding the fence, battled back when hooked by that rival into the lane but gave way once headed. He’s just a 3-year-old so he could be better situated in this race next year. Decorated Knight, a multiple Group 1 winner in Europe, was quite lathered up in the preliminaries (though that’s reportedly not unusual for him), was away slowly, lagged back and never made a move.

Del Mar
Breeders’ Cup Classic (race 12)

COMMENT: This was to be a summit of heavyweights Gun Runner and Arrogate but instead it was Gun Runner who concluded what is likely a Horse of the Year campaign with a cymbal crash, while Arrogate’s career ends with a whimper instead of a bang as he was no threat at any point. Gun Runner, who after being whipped by Arrogate in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup before rattling off three straight romping Grade 1 wins, broke alertly to go right to the lead, though his rider didn’t seem to want to be there. However, the horse’s natural speed took him to the front. He was immediately confronted by Collected, setting strong splits while continually dogged by that rival to his outside, was still locked in battle with that foe into the lane but got the better of him by midstretch, drew away in the final furlong and didn’t have a nervous moment thereafter. He’s a deserving Horse of the Year. The Grade 1 Pegasus at Gulfstream in January is reportedly a target, though his status after that remains up in the air. Collected accorded himself well, as the winner of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic over this track at this trip in August went right up to press the issue with Gun Runner, kept after that foe to the top of the lane but could go with him no further while carrying on well to be a clear second. West Coast, a 3-year-old facing elders for the first time after big wins in the Grade 1 Travers and Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, confirmed himself the top of his class and one to watch in 2018 as he sat a couple lengths off the top two, tried to make a run at them on the turn and into the lane, doggedly kept after them and while not quite good enough stayed on well for third, not far behind his elder stablemate Collected. The Pegasus may be in his plans as well, though as trainer Bob Baffert noted, the bad thing about that is “Gun Runner is supposed to be there.” Arrogate, the slight favorite, veered inward sharply at the break, got straightened away but immediately found himself far back, remained inside to the backstretch, moved a few lanes off the inside, was urged to get involved going to the far turn while pitching out wide, made a hint of a move but that just as quickly vanished and he wasn’t heard from again. His stretch from the summer of 2016 into this spring when he was incomparable winning in Dubai was historic, but it’s obvious this not only isn’t his favorite place, he just isn’t the same horse since Dubai. Churchill, the highly regarded European trying dirt for the first time, had the speed to stalk the pace though he was in a bit tight going under the wire the first time, remained in stalking position going to the far turn but then came up empty as the dirt experiment failed with both him and 2-year-old stablemate US Navy Flag. He reportedly goes off to stud.