European runners had drawn a blank on the opening day of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup but at Keeneland on Saturday there was plenty for the visitors to cheer as Glass Slippers, Audarya, Order Of Australia and Tarnawa all entered the winner’s enclosure.
Glass Slippers, owned and bred by Terry and Margaret Holdcroft’s Bearstone Stud, got the foreign contingent on the board when she powered home to become the first ever European-trained winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (5½f).
Having been settled towards the rear of the field next to the inside rail in the early stages, Glass Slippers travelled smoothly as the field rounded the final bend and as the early leaders began to drop away markedly, she began to make rapid progress.
Under the drive of Tom Eaves, Glass Slippers found a gap in between runners and once through she powered clear to hold off the on-rushing challenges of the American contingent to win by half a length.
It is the third top-level event Glass Slippers has secured under the guidance of trainer Kevin Ryan having landed last year’s running of the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp on very soft ground and this year’s edition of the Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh.
Eaves, who along with Ryan and the Holdcrofts were celebrating a first success at the championships, said: “It’s amazing and she’s a star. It was a brilliant performance by Kevin, who brought her along all year and thanks to the owners for keeping me on her out here – it’s a day I’ll never forget.
“Kevin knows his horses like the back of his hand and told me the other day he couldn’t be happier with her – she was in great form. It’s brilliant and some effort; there are so many people involved keeping her right. It’s a big thank you and well done to everyone.”
Ryan added: “She’s a filly who thrives later in the year and travels well. I know she’s never been this far but when she goes to race to France she seems to thrive and eats well.
“As the week went on, we got happier and happier with her. Tom gave her a perfect ride; I think he got a bit of advice from Ryan Moore, so thanks to Ryan.
“This is what we do the job for and I’m very lucky to have some good horses, while this filly is very special. I’d like to thank the Breeders’ Cup who have been fantastic all week the hospitality.”
Mark Pennell, Stud Manager of Bearstone Stud, told GBRI: “It’s just massive for everybody because we’re not a massive breeding operation; we don’t keep many horses to race. We lost the mare and decided that we were always going to keep that filly from a foal. She always looked like an athlete.
“I’ve worked with Terry and Margaret for 40 years and to get a horse like this at the end, it’s been worthwhile. If you’re persistent and keep trying, you’ll get one. We kept her, and raced her, and broke her in at home – we’ve done absolutely everything with her and it’s just been unbelievable.
“I can’t tell you the number of messages I’ve had off people that have been in the racing industry for years; it’s just been amazing. It’s just phenomenal and she’s really put us on the map.”
Just over an hour later, the European tally was doubled when the James Fanshawe-trained Audarya rallied under the drive of jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot to get the better of hot-favourite Rushing Fall in the Grade 1 Filly & Mare Turf (1m1½f).
It was a remarkable moment for Fanshawe, who until Saturday had never had a runner at the Breeders’ Cup and was ending a 30-year wait to be represented at the prestigious competition.
Fanshawe said: “I can’t believe it – it’s absolutely fantastic. I’m really grateful for the team back at home and its really sad Alison [Swinburn, owner] can’t be here today, while I’m also very sorry for Ioritz [Mendizabal], who couldn’t ride her.
“We couldn’t have got anyone better and Ioritz and Pierre-Charles share the same agent, so Ioritz was able to explain how to ride her and what her strengths were.
“It was a fantastic ride and I thought she’d get tired, but she kept going. She’s been running on soft ground in Europe, but she’s thrived since she’s been here. It’s easy to say that now, but she has. I always have doubts until they pass the winning post in front.”
A hat-trick of European winners was realised when Order Of Australia overcame a wide draw in stall 15 to lead home a 1-2-3 for trainer Aidan O’Brien in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
The three-year-old, who was only running in the race after the late scratching of One Master, had only broken his maiden in September and came into the race having been beaten 48 lengths by Helvic Dream in a Group 3 at the Curragh earlier this month.
He proved best of O’Brien’s team, holding off the fast-finishing Circus Maximus with Lope Y Fernandez back in third.
It was a second winner on the day for Boudot, this time deputising for Christophe Soumillon who had tested positive for Covid-19.
The final European winner on Saturday’s card came in the penultimate race, the Breeders’ Cup Turf, when the Aga Khan’s homebred Tarnawa came widest of all round the home turn before pulling clear to beat Magical and Channel Maker.
Like Fanshawe, it was a first success at the Breeders’ Cup for trainer Dermot Weld and also a maiden win at America’s showpiece fixture for jockey Colin Keane.
Baffert’s double headed by Authentic’s Breeders’ Cup Classic win
Kentucky Derby winner Authentic proved himself a true champion as he bounced back from defeat in last month’s Preakness Stakes to capture the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic (1m2f).
Driven into the lead by jockey John Velazquez, the three-year-old son of Into Mischief dictated proceedings, with his main challenger Tiz The Law having to settle for an unfamiliar position next to the rail.
As Tiz The Law tried to navigate through a clutch of horses that had bunched together as they rounded the final turn, Authentic pushed for home for a victory that never looked in doubt.
It was a fourth win in the Classic for trainer Bob Baffert, who after the race said: “We really were disappointed after the Preakness, I was sort of surprised, you know [by Authentic’s race]. He’d been working unbelievable, they all were.
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“I think [John Velazquez] really knows him well and once he got them in that rhythm, he’s just getting better and better. He’s caught up with the older horses, just an unbelievable horse.
“I would have loved to run one-two-three, but I was proud of my horses. What a way after what I’ve gone through this year. I love this sport and it’s just a great day.”
Baffert was referring to the four failed drug tests in the past six months with horses he has trained, including Justify’s run in the 2018 Santa Anita Derby prior to that colt going on to win that year’s Triple Crown.
Earlier at Keeneland Baffert had saddled Gamine to a blistering success in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (7f), which saw the daughter of Into Mischief break the track record in the process.
Cox on the board again with Knicks Go and Monomoy Girl
Following his two Grade 1 winners on Friday at Keeneland, trainer Brad Cox continued his fine run at the championships when Knicks Go bolted up in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Cox said: “This horse is very fast and loves Keeneland. Joel [Rosario, jockey] did a fantastic job, asking him to be forwardly placed. They went very quick and he was able to keep going, but it was a good race for him, with the short stretch.
“There were a lot of things in his favour. We had a setback with him and he’s an aggressive horse who likes to train, so we’ve let him do his thing. He’s very strong, and very fast.”
Cox was back in the winner’s circle later on Saturday when Monomoy Girl remained unbeaten in 2020 as she captured the Breeders’ Cup Distaff for the second time.
The five-year-old daughter of Tapizar first won the 1m1f contest in 2018 and Cox added: “She’s a champion. I thought she was better than she’s ever been and I think she proved that.
“She’s a tremendous filly. I never get too excited until they cross the wire and I’m very fortunate to be part of her.”
Fourth time lucky for Whitmore
Named after his childhood friend Wilbur Whitmore, trainer Ron Moquett was on hand to watch popular seven-year-old Whitmore finally get his head in front at the fourth time of asking to capture the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (6f).
“We hoped his experience would pay off,” Moquett added. “There were some talented horses in this with impressive resumes, but we were happy with our horse. We’re proud and he just wants it.”