Europe's top 3-year-old Auguste Rodin created a masterpiece on the Santa Anita Park turf course, winning the most prestigious grass race in North America, the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf, by three-quarters of a length. The top United States turf horse, Up to the Mark, was second, with longshot Japan-based runner Shahryar in third.
Auguste Rodin capped off a remarkable season that saw him win the Group 1 Epsom Derby, Group 1 Irish Derby, and the Group 1 Irish Champions Stakes versus older horses before shipping to California to conquer America as a bonus.
It was a record-extending seventh win in the Breeders' Cup Turf for trainer Aidan O'Brien, a record-tying fifth win for jockey Ryan Moore (equaling Frankie Dettori), and a record-extending seventh win for the owners associated with Coolmore.
Moore and his partner, Auguste Rodin, arrived at the top of the Santa Anita Park stretch after an eventful 10 furlongs, variously described by the colt's connections with words like "havoc" and "nightmare."
But then, with a flourish last used by Moses to part the Red Sea, the pace setting Balladeer cornered wide under Victor Espinoza and suddenly Moore could see the distant horizon. The rider had been ready to tap the brakes, just in case. Instead, it was full speed ahead for Auguste Rodin, who shot through in the blink of an eye to secure a three-quarter length victory over Up to the Mark at the end of a mile and one-half in 2:24.30. Shahryar gave Japan's cheering section a thrill getting up for third, just ahead of the Irish ex-pat Gold Phoenix.
For his part, Up to the Mark could not have run better in noble defeat. After winning Grade 1 races this year at 8, 9, and 10 furlongs, he came agonizingly close to winning the Breeders' Cup at 12 furlongs. Trainer Todd Pletcher refused to second guess the decision to try the Turf instead of the Mile — won by a horse he just beat, Master of the Seas, in the Grade 1 Coolmore Turf Mile at Keeneland, and instead pointed out the obvious.
"Take nothing away from the winner, but he gets through inside and we go around," Pletcher said. "That was the difference. That's turf racing."
Elite Power Scores Repeat Sprint Win, Caps Huge Day for Bill Mott
Elite Power became a repeat winner of the $2 million Qatar Racing Breeders' Cup Sprint by closing to win by 1 1/2 lengths over archrival Gunite on Nov. 4 at Santa Anita. A year earlier, he had won the Sprint at Keeneland, a performance that resulted in him earning an Eclipse Award as champion male sprinter. Another title is likely on the way this year.
The Bill Mott-trained Elite Power became the third repeat Breeders' Cup winner on the Saturday program, following the success of his stablemate Cody's Wish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and Goodnight Olive in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. In the 40 years of the Breeders' Cup, just two others have repeated in the Sprint as Elite Power did -- Roy H in 2017-18 and Midnight Lute in 2007-08.
A heady ride by Irad Ortiz Jr., who won three Breeders' Cup races on Saturday, put his mount in position to have success. Seeing few horses win from far back on the main track except for Cody's Wish, Ortiz said he consulted Mott and elected to give Elite Power a spirited warm-up in a move designed to have Elite Power closer than usual to the leaders. He was. Though seventh of eight after an opening quarter mile in :21.99 as Speed Boat Beach went to the lead, Elite Power was just 3 1/4 lengths off the pace. He then advanced into third in the turn, 1 1/2 lengths behind Speed Boat Beach's half-mile in :44.35.
Speed Boat Beach's lead dwindled with a pace pressing Gunite dialing up the heat, but none could contain Elite Power, who rallied wide to power ahead in the final furlong. Favored Elite Power paid $5.40 to win.
"I was in the passenger seat until the quarter pole, then I just asked him and he responded," Ortiz said.
Gunite held on for second, a half-length ahead of Nakatomi in third. Speed Boat Beach faded to fourth as the second betting favorite.
Elite Power resumed his winning ways in the Sprint after a second-place finish to Gunite in the Aug. 26 Grade 1 Forego Stakes, a loss that ended an eight-race win streak.
Elite Power improved his career earnings to $3,775,711. He is 9-1-1 in 13 starts.
The Sprint, the final Breeders' Cup race on the Saturday card, gave Mott his third win during the two-day Breeders' Cup. Earlier, he won the Nov. 3 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with Just F Y I, and the Dirt Mile with Godolphin's Cody's Wish.
Master of the Seas Nips Mawj in Breeders' Cup Mile Thriller
It was a battle between the Godolphin runners to the wire in the $2 million FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile presented by PDJF at Santa Anita Park Nov. 4 with Master of The Seas using a late surge to beat Mawj by the slimmest of noses on the wire.
Though Master of The Seas came into Saturday's race with sharp form from a fall campaign in North America that resulted in a win in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile and a second in the Grade 1 Coolmore Turf Mile, some had their doubts about his chances after the race's post position draw. Masters of The Seas landed the far outside post, leading some to speculate that he would lose ground with a wide trip.
"When we drew stall 14, I wouldn't say it was a dampener as much as it was more of a challenge for him," Appleby said.
Master of The Seas needed to pass 10 horses down the lane to win and stuck his nose in front a stride or two before the finish. Master of The Seas ($8.60) raced a mile on firm turf in 1:32.45, following quick fractions of :22.16, :45.37 and 1:09.12.
"I looked up halfway down the (backstretch), and I thought that's a lot of horses to pass," Buick said. "On the home turn, I was a bit lucky because the horse in front of me didn't pull out, so I didn't turn in as wide as what I thought I would have to. So I managed to conserve a little bit more ground than what I expected. Once he went past the quarter pole, he just took off."
Three-year-old filly Mawj, a half-sister to Modern Games and winner of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup presented by Dixiana at Keeneland last month, stalked the pace ad took the lead in midstretch only to be caught at the finish line. She finished a half-length clear of the top-performing American runner Casa Creed, who turned was third.
Master of The Seas will continue to race in 2024. Appleby mentioned that the gelding had been invited to the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes, a $1 million turf race at 1 1/8 miles Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park.
In addition to capturing the Mile for the third time, the British-based Appleby notched his 10th Breeders' Cup victory from 20 starters. Buick won his eighth Breeders' Cup race. -- Byron King
Goodnight Olive is Repeat Filly & Mare Sprint Champion
Defending Eclipse Award-winning champion female sprinter Goodnight Olive won the $1 million PNC Bank Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint for a second straight year, dominating the seven-furlong race to win by 2 3/4 lengths.
"This horse is such a great horse. It's our first back-to-back Breeders Cup winner, so that really puts her up in high standings in our barn through 17 years of training," said trainer Chad Brown.
"Beautiful trip," said jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who was with Goodnight Olive for all but one of her 12 career starts. "She was there for me every time I asked. She gives me confidence," Otriz said. "I knew I was on the best horse. She did it again."
The final time was 1:22.97.
Goodnight Olive ends her career 9-2-1 from 12 starts with $2,196,200 in the bank. This year. Now she returns to the sales ring as Goodnight Olive is scheduled to be sold Nov. 7 at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale.
Earlier in the week, Brown said he hoped Goodnight Olive would end her racing career Saturday as a champion. This triumph will go a very long way in accomplishing her final racing achievement. -- Joe Perez
Nobals Upsets Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint
Trainer Larry Rivelli and owner Vince Foglia are longtime friends who have raced horses in Chicago for years. As Arlington Park was winding down to its closure in 2021, they looked for a horse who might do well in the Arlington-Washington Futurity. Foglia bought Nobals, who not only won the Futurity for them, but now has become a Breeders' Cup winner, capturing the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.
Since the 2021 Arlington-Washington Futurity and prior to the Breeders' Cup, Nobals had won seven more races, six of them stakes, and racked up earnings of almost $1 million. He also put together a good enough resume as a turf sprinter that Rivelli and Foglia decided to take a shot at the Breeders' Cup.
"When I saw the nominations, I thought you could throw a blanket over the whole field as far as who was better than one another," Rivelli said.
When the gate opened in the five-furlong Turf Sprint, European runner Live In The Dream zipped to the lead and set brisk fractions of :21.15 for a quarter mile and :43.77 for a half-mile. Nobals broke ninth of 12 for jockey Gerardo Corrales and ran in mid-pack early.
"Our plan was to be a little closer," Rivelli said. "He ended up working out a trip and we held on."
After Nobals took a bump from the outside, Corrales moved him to the inside and saved ground around the turn. They came through on the rail to take the lead. Big Invasion, who was in tight early, got clear late to make a huge rally. But Nobals held him off to win by a neck in :55.15. Aesop's Fables closed for third, and Live In The Dream held on for fourth. -- Tracy Gantz
Inspiral Rockets to Filly and Mare Turf Win
Inspiral honored her 5-2 post-time favoritism in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf with awe-inspiring acceleration to win the $2 million race by a neck over Warm Heart on the Championship Saturday undercard.
The 4-year-old English-bred daughter of Frankel, who shipped in off of two straight Group 1 stakes wins, and jockey Frankie Dettori gave Europe its first win of the second day of World Championship racing at Santa Anita Park. Dettori and his mount were behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch before rocketing into gear down the lane.
Canadian champion filly Moira finished a length behind Warm Heart in third. Final time for 1 ¼ miles miles on firm turf was 1:59.06.
“An amazing performance from an outstanding filly,” trainer John Gosden said. “Frankie said he was happy with her throughout the race having a good pitch on the inside rail. She traveled beautifully throughout and showed an electric turn of foot. Turning into the straight Frankie had to sit and suffer for a few strides but once she got out she flew home and won very well in the end.”
Dettori won his 15th World Championships race to move into a tie for third all-time with Joel Rosario.–Tracy Gantz
Cody’s Wish Completes Fairytale Ending in Dirt Mile
In an emotional first of nine races on the Championship Saturday program, defending Big Ass Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile titleholder Cody’s Wish ran down Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure to score a repeat victory in the $1 million race.
Cody’s Wish, who rallied stoutly through the turn and split horses under Junior Alvarado, prevailed by a nose. The Godolphin homebred survived an inquiry to be declared the official winner in his career finale. The winner and runner-up made contact during the final furlong of the race.
“He broke OK again, better than the last couple of races,” Alvarado said. “I had to save every inch of ground with him. I didn’t have the luxury of swinging him outside because I knew this was a tough race. He always is there for me. He is just a big fighter for me.”
Skippylongstocking finished 3 ¾ lengths behind the top pair in third.
Cody’s Wish provided fans with one of the most emotionally charged stories in recent years. Named after Cody Dorman, a young man from Kentucky with a rare genetic disease, Cody’s Wish emerged as one of the best racehorses in training during 2023 and built a large fan base as the Dorman family attended most of his races, including both of his Breeders’ Cup wins. He retired to stud at Godolphin’s breeding operation in Kentucky with a record of 11 wins in 16 starts and earnings of $1,773,900.
“A great story, it’s a great story, an inspiration for a lot of people,” Mott said. “To see what it has done for Cody Dorman and his family and a lot of people around him. Look, I have a wrist band (he shows it) and it says ‘Cody’s Wish.’ Sometimes wishes do come true.”
Sadly, Cody Dorman died Nov. 5, one day after he and his family attended the Breeder’s Cup.–Bob Ehalt