Key Takeaways from the 2020 Breeders’ Cup

Authentic (right) leads the field from start to finish in winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7 at Keeneland. (Coady Photography)

Tom Pedulla presents five key takeaways from the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which featured 14 races worth $31 million in purses and awards. The two-day event at Keeneland Race Course opened with Future Stars Friday featuring five races for 2-year-olds followed by a nine-race Championships Saturday sequence of races, ending in the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.

REAL DEAL: Undoubtedly, Authentic sealed up the Eclipse Award as leading 3-year-old male with his front-running victory in the Classic. He also made a strong case for Horse of the Year. He did, after all, win the two most significant races of the season, the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and the Classic. His Classic time of 1:59.19 broke the track record of 2:00.07 set by Triple Crown champion American Pharoah when he completed the first and only Grand Slam in 2015. And Authentic was certainly flattered by his competition in the Classic. Stablemate Improbable, the runner-up, had rattled off three consecutive Grade 1 triumphs.  

Cox (left) and a championship timepiece. (Eclipse Sportswire)

BRAD COX SHOW: This edition of the Breeders’ Cup turned into the Brad Cox show as he matched the four victories Richard Mandella produced at Mandella’s home base of Santa Anita Park in 2003. Cox, who grew up in the neighborhood that surrounds Churchill Downs, reached the winner’s circle with Essential Quality ($2 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance), Aunt Pearl ($1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf), Knicks Go ($1 million Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile) and Monomoy Girl ($2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff). Cox made it clear that Monomoy Girl holds a special place in his heart since she provided his first Breeders’ Cup win in the Distaff two years ago. “I love her to pieces,” he said after Monomoy Girl’s career finale.

Boudot and Order of Australia. (Eclipse Sportswire)

LAST-MINUTE SUCCESS: Positive COVID-19 tests involving Christophe Soumillon and Ioritz Mendizabal paved the way for remarkable last-minute success for Pierre-Charles Boudot and Colin Keane. Boudot stepped in to urge home Audarya in the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders' Filly and Mare Turf and to record a 73.20-1 shocker with Order of Australia in the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile presented by PDJF. Keane made for a seamless transition for Tarnawa, winner of the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. “It’s a dream come true for me,” Boudot said. “I’m very happy to be here and I’m very thankful for this day.”

SPEEDBALL: No horse turned in a more scintillating performance than Gamine, who blew past Serengeti Empress to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint by 6 ¼ lengths in the track-record time of 1:20.20 for the seven furlongs. Taris had set the previous mark of 1:21.32 in 2014. “She is just brilliant. She is the fastest filly going one turn I ever trained,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert of 3-year-old Gamine. Trainer Tom Amoss was not disappointed after Serengeti Empress held second in the last start of her career. “My girl was a winner a long time ago,” he said proudly.   

Ortiz celebrates after the Sprint. (Eclipse Sportswire)

THREE-PEAT: Irad Ortiz Jr. became the first jockey to three-peat since the Bill Shoemaker Award was first presented to the leading Breeders’ Cup jockey in 2003. Ortiz was one of five riders with two victories apiece over the two days of competition, flashing across the finish line first with Golden Pal (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint) and longshot Whitmore (Breeders’ Cup Sprint). Joel Rosario, Florent Geroux, John Velazquez and Pierre-Charles Boudot also closed with two wins each but Ortiz’s second-place finish with Improbable in the Classic and his third aboard Sharp Samurai in the Dirt Mile made the difference.

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