Breeders’ Cup World Championships Post Race Updates

                               

 Sunday, November 6

Bob Baffert (Arrogate/Hoppertunity, 1st and 4th Classic) – Bob Baffert’s first- and fourth-place finishers were both in good condition on the morning after the climactic event  to Breeders’ Cup XXXIII.

“Who’d have thought I’d have another horse like American Pharoah,” Baffert said. “He’s doing some of the same things that Pharoah did.”

Baffert related a key moment in the race turning into the stretch when Mike Smith, who had targeted cruising leader California Chrome from third place, directly behind Melatonin, won a cat-and-mouse game with Chrome pilot Victor Espinoza.

Anticipating a challenge, Espinoza looked to his left, then right, and back again just as Smith took Arrogate to the outside.

“Mike said that when he went outside, he could hear Victor say ‘Damn it,’ ” Baffert said. “Then when Mike went to the right hand (whip), Arrogate got on his right lead and took off like a rocket.”

While expressing the utmost respect for trainer Art Sherman and the California Chrome crew, Baffert and assistant Jim Barnes did point out that three of the four losses for California Chrome in his last 11 starts were to Baffert representatives. Bayern administered back-to-back defeats in the 2014 Pennsylvania Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic and then Arrogate on Saturday.

“(Arrogate) wasn’t even blowing when he came back, it was like ‘When are we going to do this again?’ ” Baffert said.

Racing fans worldwide would like to know the answer to that question. Only time will tell. The colt’s connections indicated in post-race interviews an inclination to run in 2017, if all goes well.

Regarding Hoppertunity, Baffert said: “He ran a good race but he struggles over these California tracks. He needs a deeper, softer track. John Velazquez said he was like a different horse from the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.”

Baffert said Hoppertunity remains a candidate for the Pegasus World Cup and Dubai World Cup next year.

Drefong, who provided Baffert with his 13th Breeders’ Cup victory in the Sprint six races before Arrogate put the icing on the cake, looked like a winner before setting foot on the track.

“I don’t usually bet on my Breeders’ Cup horses, but I bet on Drefong after I saw him in the paddock,” Baffert said.

A decision on what’s next for Drefong, like Arrogate a 3yo, also will be determined in coming days.

 

Art Sherman (California Chrome, 2nd Classic) – Valiant in defeat in an epic Breeders’ Cup Classic, North America’s richest runner, California Chrome, was bright and alert, with his head out of his double stall at Barn 126 Sunday morning, curiously observing the activities of his temporary surroundings. The 5yo will be vanned back to his training home base of Los Alamitos this morning at 10:30.

Trainer Art Sherman, who looked in on the horse during the pre-dawn hours before driving to Los Alamitos to supervise training of his string of horses, reported Chrome “looked good, ate up after the race and everything was cold.”

Revisiting the race, Sherman said that while he trusts in Victor Espinoza’s familiarity with the horse, if he, Art, were riding Saturday, he would have cut California Chrome loose at the quarter pole when he was already in command.

“It was so crazy on the track after the race that I never did get a chance to speak with Victor. I know he rides this horse with great confidence and we might have been caught anyway, but I think you’ve just got to go for it and open up as much as you can and make them try to catch you. You hope the finish line just comes up first. I know he had plenty of horse at the top of the stretch, so that tells you how good the winner was yesterday.”

Sherman’s comments were based on Espinoza taking several peeks behind looking for his rivals while leading on the final turn for home.

“That’s just part of racing, though,” Sherman said. “You can’t cry over what happens.  Maybe we’ll get another chance (to test Arrogate) before Chrome retires. I hope we’d be able to run him at least one more time before then.  We’ll have to wait and see.”

 

Dave Hofmans (Melatonin, 5th Classic) – “He’s a little stiff and muscle sore all over from running so hard after being off for so long,” Hofmans said. “But nothing more than you’d expect. I thought he ran a good race to about the quarter pole and then he got really tired. He ran a good mile.

“I thought the race was really good,” Hofmans said. “Racing all weekend was really good for that matter.”

Melatonin will most likely run next at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, which starts Dec. 26. But, Hofmans said he will look at the Native Diver Stakes at the end of the month at Del Mar as well.

“It’s not beyond the realm of possibility, we’ll see how he looks in the next few days,” Hofmans said.

 

Kiaran McLaughlin (Frosted, 6th, Classic; Sentiero Italia, 10th, Filly & Turf; Tamarkuz, 1st, Dirt Mile) – While plans for Frosted’s future were not available Sunday morning, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said that Godolphin Racing’s Sentiero Italia and Shadwell’s Tamarkuz are headed to retirement and into the breeding shed.

McLaughlin said that Frosted would be shipped somewhere to the east this week after a decision was made on whether the 4yo son of Tapit would continue racing or be retired to stud at Darley. In the Classic, he was in a stalking position early, but could not keep up with Arrogate and California Chrome when they spurted away from the others.

“We’re obviously disappointed,” McLaughlin said. “The top two were very impressive.”

In three seasons of racing, Frosted has a 6-6-2 record from 19 starts and earnings of $3,972,800.

Sentiero Italia finished seven lengths behind Queen’s Trust after a wide trip in the Filly & Mare Turf.

“She didn’t seem to handle the ground. Just didn’t run well,” McLaughlin said.

The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was 5-1-2 in 12 starts and earned $995,245.

Tamarkuz completed his career Friday with an upset victory in the Dirt Mile to capture his first Grade 1 victory,. The 6yo son of Speightstown completed his career with a record of 8-4-0 and earnings of $1,840,444 in 20 starts.

 

Richard Mandella (Beholder, 1st Distaff/Avenge, 3rd Filly & Mare Turf) – It will take a while longer for champion Beholder’s farewell victory in Friday’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff to sink in with Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.

“It probably won’t hit me until she leaves,” Mandella said while heading to the track to observe his second set of horses Sunday morning. “We’re busy every day, so I haven’t had a lot of time to think about it and don’t really want to.”

The truly brilliant mare, a half to emerging top sire Into Mischief, is expected to relocate to Spendthrift Farm to be bred during the 2017 season.

Beholder, a champion 2yo filly, 3yo filly and older mare, capped off a stellar five-year racing career Friday by capturing the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff for a second time and recording her 18th victory from 26 starts.

Ramona Bass’ overachieving 4yo War Front filly Avenge rose to the occasion again running a bang-up third, beaten one length, after setting the pace in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

“She’s come a long way from this summer, so we’ll give her a rest and try to go a little further next year,” Mandella said.

Since changing surface and distance, Avenge tallied three straight victories over the summer, winning the John C. Mabee and Rodeo Drive before her creditable third in the Filly & Mare Turf.

 

European Report

 

Visitors to the European Quarantine Barn at around 8:15 Sunday morning were greeted by the reassuring sight of the dozen Ballydoyle horses of Aidan O’Brien being led around the walking ring – none of them looking any the worse for their exertions over the past two days. They will be going their separate ways from here, however, as nine head home to Ireland at around 10 a.m. Monday, while three of them, Found, Hit It a Bomb and Pretty Perfect head for Ashford in Kentucky today.

Found brought the curtain down on her stellar racing career of 21 starts for six wins, 14 placed efforts and earnings of more than £5 million sterling, with a gallant third-place finish behind her stable companion Highland Reel in Saturday’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, and deservedly heads to the paddocks, but with mating plans yet to be announced.

The durable Highland Reel, who added the Breeders’ Cup Turf to his burgeoning resume on Saturday, may not have run his last race of the 2016 season, as a possible start at the Japan Cup at the end of this month (Nov. 27) or the Hong Kong Vase Dec. 11 still may be on his agenda. Highland Reel won last year’s version of the Hong Kong Vase, when he had Flintshire back in second spot, just as he did Saturday.

The English horses, amongst them the Sir Michael Stoute-trained pair of Queen’s Trust and Ulysses, and the Henry Candy-trained Limato are scheduled to fly home Sunday evening. Queen’s Trust, spectacular in running down Lady Eli in the dying strides of the Filly & Mare Turf, and Ulysses, fourth placed in the Turf behind Highland Reel, were both described by James Savage, Stoute’s assistant as “basically fine, but a little stiff after their runs – nothing problematical.” Limato was reported to be fine and to have eaten up well after his run in the Mile.

The French pair of Karar and Cavale Doree together with the German filly Spectre are due to fly back to France Monday, while the Japanese filly will continue on her travels by going down to Del Mar where she will spend time in isolation, training for another attempt at the Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin on Dec. 11th, a race in which she finished second last year to another Japanese trainee A Shin Hikari. She will ship to Hong Kong around the start of December and return post-race to her native Japan.

 

Mark Casse (Tepin, Mile; Valadorna, Juvenile Fillies; La Coronel and Victory to Victory (scratched), Juvenile Fillies Turf; Catch a Glimpse, Filly & Mare Turf; Classic Empire, Juvenile; Keep Quiet, Juvenile Turf) — Trainer Mark Casse’s septet of Breeders’ Cup entrants are all well as of Sunday morning. Stable star Tepin, a charging second in her Mile defense attempt, and appeared no worse for the wear.

“She ran a winning race and I’m not overly upset about it,” Casse said. “She was maybe just a little unlucky. The winner ran great, too, and we can hold our head high. All the doubters were wrong, so that is satisfying.

“She has a funny way of running,” he continued. “She’s not the easiest to maneuver and is not easy to steer because she runs with her head cocked, but I think Julien (Leparoux) did a great job given the situation. I could not have asked for a better trip. It’s like with Valadorna. Even though she got hung up for a second and it maybe cost her the race, the reason she was able to run as well as she did was because Julien had given her such a good trip.”

Stonestreet Stables’ Valadorna, another top filly by Stonestreet’s flagship stallion Curlin, made a fine showing in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies when finishing a charging runner-up, despite a traffic-riddled trip. The effort was her first outside of maiden company. The sizable bay filly is the lone horse to race for the Casse-Stonestreet team, according to Casse.

“She looked good this morning,” Casse said. “Obviously the (Kentucky) Oaks would be our hope. I think she would probably be our leading candidate for that right now.”

Gary Barber and partners’ Catch a Glimpse exited her off-the-board effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in top shape, but is likely headed for a rest after a stellar campaign in which she earned more than $1.1 million and won five of eight starts.

“Crazy enough, Catch a Glimpse has more energy than anyone this morning,” Casse said. “She’s going to go home. She’s had a long, hard campaign. She could run back with how good she feels, but (instead) she’s going to go home and grow up a little bit. We’re going to figure out a spring campaign for her and get her back on the winning track. I don’t see her and Tepin hooking up together.”

 

A little more exhausted, and justifiably so, was Breeders’ Cup Juvenile victor Classic Empire, who presumably stamped himself as the early Kentucky Derby favorite with a stalk-and-pounce victory for owner John C. Oxley.

“I think he’s a little tired, but he ran his butt off,” Casse said with satisfaction. “Given what happened with Valadorna, Julien wanted to make sure we weren’t too far away (from the front). We broke running and he looked at the opportunity and saw it. I was extremely happy going into the first turn and thought ‘well we have no excuses from here’.”

Casse confirmed that Classic Empire would be pointed to the Kentucky Derby and winter under his watchful eye in Florida.

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf was the most frustrating event of the World Championships for the Casse team. Very high on both of their chances when entered, Live Oak Plantation’s Victory to Victory and John C. Oxley’s La Coronel, things fell apart from there. Victory to Victory was scratched the morning of the race after popping a splint and La Coronel drew post 14 (moved in to 13 after her stablemate’s scratch), she was shuffled back in the first turn and wide throughout before finishing mid-pack.

“Tough trip for her,” Casse said with chagrin. “I was really confident in her. You can’t give a good filly like the winner 44 feet. You just can’t do it. (La Coronel) was the most frustrating because nobody got to see how great she is. She could have maybe handled the 44 feet, but what she couldn’t handle was losing all her position in the first turn. The horse in front of her backed up into her and then we were last down the backside. People maybe have said that Florent (Geroux) moved too soon, but he had to move at that point to have any chance of winning. It was just bad luck. She’s going to go home and grow up a little bit.

“I like getting a few starts into our horses (at age 2),” he continued. “I think it makes them better and smarter and this filly is very good.”

Victory to Victory will live to fight another day, according to the three-time Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer.

“The good news is her injury is very minor,” Casse said. “She’s an extremely talented filly and she’ll have her day. Of course it was disappointing for Mrs. Weber and I feel bad for her. A couple years ago American Pharoah had to scratch and Beholder had to scratch last year and those turned out all right. We’re OK.”

Never a serious factor in the the Juvenile Turf, Gary Barber’s Keep Quiet exited his off-the-board finish in the race in good shape and will move forward to a sophomore campaign, according to Casse.

 

Dale Romans (Not This Time, 2nd, Juvenile) In the days leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, veteran trainer Dale Romans touted his colt, saying he expected a big performance from the morning-line favorite. The Albaugh Family Stable homebred delivered at the 5-2 betting favorite and finished a neck behind John Oxley’s Classic Empire trained by Mark Casse. Romans said Sunday morning that the colt came out of the race well and was to be shipped back later in the day to his barn at Churchill Downs.

“I’m proud of his race. He ran hard,” Romans said. “We just got beat by a very good horse. It was a horse race. Mark did a great job with his horse; Mr. Oxley, no one has put more into the game than him.

“Hopefully these horses will develop a great rivalry for the next year.”

With his decisive wins in two races leading up to the Breeders’ Cup and his performance in the Juvenile, Not This Time is one of the leaders of the group aimed for the 2017 Triple Crown series.

“We won’t do much with him for the rest of the year,” Romans said. “We’ll keep him in the barn, keep him happy and then get him cranked up.”

 

Peter Eurton (Champagne Room, 1st Juvenile Fillies) – Trainer Peter Eurton was all smiles Sunday morning after collecting his first Breeders’ Cup victory with promising 2yo filly Champagne Room in the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Saturday.

“Winning a Breeders’ Cup race is something you dream about,” Eurton said. “Well, I mean it wasn’t a surprise as I always thought she had ability, but I just think she was so in-mature. Now she just wants to run.

“My first thought after she crossed the wire? My mind was blank. I didn’t know what to think. It was just so awesome. Now they are telling me that she might even be the favorite for the Eclipse Award. That would be something. For now, I’m just going to enjoy the moment.”

As to future plans for Champagne Room, Eurton said. “We just have to look and see, give her a little freshening. This was her fifth race of the year. She’s a big strong filly. It’s never about wearing her out, but she is a nice filly and we have to be very cautious with planning out her immediate campaign.”

 

Ian Kruljac (Finest City, 1st Filly & Mare Sprint) – Trainer Ian Kruljac collected his first Breeders’ Cup victory when Seltzer Thoroughbred’s Finest City prevailed by three-quarters of a length in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on Saturday.

“It hasn’t sank in yet, I guess,” said the 28-year-old trainer who was presenting his first starter in the Breeders’ Cup World Championship. “Just very happy for our family. I’m very proud of course of my filly. The race shaped out the way we expect it. I was expecting her to be close to the lead and not tire.”

Kruljac reported Finest City will remain in training for a 5yo campaign.

The 4yo daughter of City Zip recorded her most important career victory in winning the Filly & Mare Sprint at odds of 8.70-to-1 under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith extending a productive 2016 season following a graded win during spring in the Great Lady M.

 

Ron Ellis (Masochistic, 2nd Sprint) – Trainer Ron Ellis reported this morning that Breeders’ Cup Sprint favorite and runner-up Masochistic “came out of the race perfect,” a happy change from the aftermath of the 2015 renewal when the speedy California-bred sprinter suffered a cracked cannon bone in his right hind leg.

Ellis, who was unusually absent from the back stretch Sunday morning in order to be with his daughter Elizabeth who was in labor to give birth to Ron’s first grandchild, added, “He didn’t run his best race, but I was still proud of his effort.  That was a very fast horse (Drefong) who beat us.”

No definitive racing plans were made for Masochistic beyond the Sprint, however, Ellis indicated the gelding was likely to resume racing during the winter season at Santa Anita next year.

 

Phil D’Amato (Obviously, 1st Turf Sprint/Midnight Storm, 3rd Mile) – Obviously won a Breeders’ Cup race for the first time in his fifth year of trying. Midnight Storm was a gallant third behind Tourist and mighty Tepin in the Mile. And trainer Phil D’Amato was a happy man as he supervised workouts for his stable Sunday morning.

“They all came back in good order and it was a good experience,” D’Amato said.  “The old man (Obviously) finally got the prize and I was very happy for him. He came out of the race in great shape and, who knows, he might race again as a 9-year-old. Midnight Storm, he ran his eyeballs out and he came back in good order too. It was a good day yesterday.

“We’ll let them take it easy for a while and then, maybe this time next week, we’ll map out a plan for them. Usually this time of year with Obviously we give him a little bit of a break to get him ready for next year. But he’s come out of these races so good and he hasn’t lost a step in his training, in my opinion. If he’s ready to run more at 8 instead of waiting until 9, we’ll try to find another race for him. Midnight Storm, we’ll probably map out a campaign for 2017 but, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that there could be races for both of them at Del Mar.

Del Mar’s 19-day Bing Crosby fall meeting opens Friday.

D’Amato, 38, celebrated his first Breeders’ Cup victory Saturday night with his wife and two children.  Also on hand were several members of ownership groups and Denise Mitchell, widow of Mike Mitchell, whose stable – which included Obviously – D’Amato took over 2 1/2 years ago.

 

Dan Hendricks (Om, 2nd Turf Sprint) – Trainer Dan Hendricks seemed pleased Sunday morning with Om’s runner-up effort in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

“He just got off slow and was farther back than we expected to be. But, he still ran a hell of a race, so we are real proud of him,” Hendricks said. “We didn’t win, but he ran super so I can’t complain.”

Om, ridden by Gary Stevens, closed like an express train down the stretch inside the       6½f downhill turf course to just fall short by a nose, finished second behind winner Obviously.

Sareen Family Trust’s Om’s is expected to remain in training for at least another year.

“There is a race for him coming up at Del Mar’s Bing Crosby season, but we’ll have to decide and look at the schedule to see if that’s where we are going to go,” Hendricks said. “Yes, we’ll campaign him next season.”