2014 Breeders’ Cup – Day 1 Roundup

Exciting opening day for 2014 Breeders' Cup

The first day of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup programme reported a gain in attendance but a decline in total pari-mutuel handle compared with the first day of the 2013 World Championships.

Officials reported a crowd of 37,205 at Santa Anita Park on Friday, 31 October, up 3.8% from the Friday figure of 35,833 at last year’s meeting. It was the highest Friday attendance figure since 2011 at Churchill Downs, when the number was reported at 40,677.

Total handle for the 10-race card with four Breeders’ Cup races was $45,815,112, down 11% from the 2013 figure of $51,521,146 for an 11-race card with five Breeders’ Cup races. Officials attributed much of the drop in handle to having one less Cup race as the Gr2 Marathon wasn’t carded for this year.

In 2013 handle on the Breeders’ Cup Marathon exceeded $5 million. In 2014, the Marathon was replaced by the Gr2 Las Vegas Marathon, which was run as the second race and generated about $1.7 million in wagering.

Breeders’ Cup officials said the figure met their projections given one less race in total, and one less Breeders’ Cup stakes.

The four Breeders’ Cup races on Friday’s card included the Longines Distaff, the Juvenile Fillies Turf, the Dirt Mile and the Juvenile Turf.

Juvenile Turf – It’s All About Frankie

Hootenanny, a Quality Road colt owned by the connections of Coolmore Stud, opened the 2014 Breeders’ Cup programme by wearing down pacesetter Luck of the Kitten to win the $1 million Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita Park.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori for trainer Wesley Ward, Hootenanny was comfortably positioned third in the 14-horse field as Luck of the Kitten, also trained by Ward, tried to steal the race. Running free on the lead while followed by Lawn Ranger, Mike Smith and Luck of the Kitten set fractions of :22.71, :46.91, and 1:11.36 through the first three-quarters of a mile. Hootenanny maintained his position in third before he made up ground in the stretch, with Luck of the Kitten still leading as they turned for home. Challenged by Hootenanny, Luck of the Kitten hung on gamely for a stretch duel. Hootenanny finally kicked in to win by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 1:34.79 for a mile on firm turf. Dettori thrilled the crowd with his patented leaping dismount in the winner’s circle.

The victory improved Hootenanny’s record to 3-1-1 in five starts and the winner’s purse of $550,000 increased his bankroll to $751,985. Produced from the Hennessy mare More Hennessy, the winner is from his sire’s first crop. He was bred in Kentucky by Barronstown and is owned by Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, and Mrs. John Magnier of the Coolmore partnership. He was a $75,000 purchase at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Tabor, who along with his partners has won the Juvenile Turf three out of the eight years it has been run, said the connections have a lot of options with Hootenanny. “He’s a very good horse, and this has been a very lucky race for us,” Tabor said. “To win at the Breeders’ Cup is very special and hopefully we can do it for many more years. He obviously gets the mile pretty well, and he could run in the (classic Two Thousand) Guineas (Eng-I), and there are a host of races that are possibilities for him.”

Dettori, who had ridden Luck of the Kitten in his first two starts, including a maiden win at Saratoga Race Course, said he knew the pacesetter had a lot of speed. “I know he’s (Luck of the Kitten) got a lot of speed, so I didn’t want to get in a speed duel,” the rider said. “He (Hootenanny) blew the first turn a bit, but once I got him asleep, I knew then that I had the race in my mercy.”

Ward was not at Santa Anita, spending time in Florida with family. His father, Dennis, explained that the trainer’s sons were involved in a lot of activities at this time of the year and that Ward wanted to be there for them.

Hootenanny began his career by winning a maiden special weight at Keeneland and then finished third in $75,000 Rollicking Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Sent by Ward to Royal Ascot, Hootenanny dominated 23 overmatched rivals in the Windsor Castle Stakes, becoming the first stakes winner for his Lane’s End Farm-based sire in the process. In his most recent start, the colt finished second in the Darley Prix Morny (Fr-I) Aug. 24 at Deauville.

Hootenanny was initially purchased by Winding Oaks Farm for $120,000 from the Eaton Sales consignment to the 2012 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Pinhooked by St. George Sales to the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale, he was purchased by Cromwell Bloodstock for $75,000.

Dirt Mile Historic Double

In the final race of his career Goldencents displayed the sort of courage that will be remembered for years to come in winning the $1 million Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, becoming the first horse to score a repeat victory.

Goldencents seized the lead along the rail in the first turn, but was hounded by the speedy Vicar’s in Trouble through a half-mile in :44.80. Goldencents put that one away through six-furlongs in 1:09.27, but Gr2 winner Tapiture had launched his move at that point, then three lengths behind Goldencents. Tapiture steadily closed in on Goldencents and cut the lead in half by midstretch, but the tired Goldencents dug in, angling in and out to hold off Tapiture by 1 1/4 lengths at the wire. Pants On Fire finished five lengths back in third. Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, Goldencents completed the mile race in 1:35.16 on a fast track.

W. C. Racing’s Goldencents is the first horse to win two editions of the Dirt Mile since the race was added to Breeders’ Cup in 2007 and victory saw the 4-year-old son of Into Mischief surpassing the $3 million mark in career earnings. He will stand next season at the same home as his sire, Spendthrift Farm in Lexington.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano guided Goldencents to victory for a second straight year as the Southern California-based rider earned his fifth career Breeders’ Cup victory. The winning trainer was Leandro Mora, assistant to Goldencents’ suspended regular trainer Doug O’Neill. “Okay, well, first of all, it’s guts. That’s him,” Mora said, noting that he maintains his breathing through fast races. “He’s an old pro. When Tapiture started coming up, I started to sweat cold again, but then it was all over,” said Mora of his first Breeders’ Cup victory. “But I had so much confidence in this horse this whole week. He’s been so kind, so great…so grateful to everything.”

Out of the Banker’s Gold mare Golden Works, Goldencents was bred in Kentucky by Rosecrest Farm and Karyn Pirrello.

Two-time Gr2 winner Vicar’s in Trouble was vanned off after the race after a left front injury that was characterized as minor by the on-call veterinarian. It was later upgraded to a condylar fracture.

Juvenile Fillies Turf – Lady Eli Remains Undefeated

Sheep Pond Partners’ Lady Eli remained undefeated in three starts with a dynamic victory in the $1 million Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

By Divine Park out of the Saint Ballado mare Sacre Coeur, Lady Eli has shown the ability to race handy and kick on late and did so again in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. She broke quickly with Sunset Glow and was guided behind an early three-filly speed duel between Sunset Glow, Isabella Sings, and Nicky’s Brown Miss.

Sunset Glow asserted herself and set fractions of :22.66 for the opening quarter-mile, :46.46 for the half-mile, and 1:10.48 for six furlongs in an early three-filly speed duel with Isabella Sings and Nicky’s Brown Miss. Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. for trainer Chad Brown, Lady Eli raced in fourth along the rail until the top of the lane and exploded past front-running Sunset Glow to win going away in a sharp 1:33.41 on firm going.

Sunset Glow finished second, 2 3/4 lengths behind the winner. Osaila and Prize Exhibit ran on late but couldn’t threaten the top pair and finished 3rd and 4th respectively.

Lady Eli was bred in Kentucky by Runnymede Farm and Catesby Clay. She broke her maiden at Saratoga Race Course and then won the Gr3 Miss Grillo Stakes at Belmont Park.

“I’m so proud of her to see her run like this today,” said Brown, who had three other fillies in the race. “We develop these babies from scratch, and I remember the first time I saw her breeze on the turf. It took my breath away. I told (the owners) she was something special and she proved out to be. It all worked out.”

Jockey Ortiz said Lady Eli got a perfect trip. “My filly broke good and I got a nice spot down inside,” Ortiz said. “I broke through the hole (at the top of the stretch) when Sunset Glow came out, and my filly flew right through there. It feels great. It’s unbelievable.”

Longines Distaff – Remarkable Untapable

The $2 million Gr1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff capped a memorable 3-year-old filly championship campaign for the remarkable Untapable. Facing older rivals for the first time, the Gr1 Longines Kentucky Oaks heroine was posting her fourth Gr1 win of the season and sixth triumph from seven starts this year.

Tiz Midnight, who was hustled to the lead soon after the start, dispatched a half mile in fractions of :22.93 and :46.73, pushed all the way by Iotapa. Iotapa poked her head in front as they reached six furlongs in 1:10.95 and took a narrow lead out of the final turn. It didn’t last long, however, as Untapable, racing wide early and in sixth coming into the final turn while following second choice Close Hatches on the far outside, made her bid with a wide sweeping move.

Untapable easily swept by Close Hatches and engaged Iotapa in upper stretch. Those two battled to the eighth pole, with Untapable gaining a half-length advantage and edging away to win impressively by 1 ¼ lengths. The closing Don’t Tell Sophia, who trailed the field after six furlongs and had about nine lengths to make up, rallied when angled to the outside by Joe Rocco Jr. for the drive and got up by a nose for second over Iotapa. Ria Antonia, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, finished fourth after looming as a threat on the final turn. She was followed by Unbridled Forever, Tiz Midnight, Stanwyck, Valiant Emilia, Belle Gallantey, L’Amour de Ma Vie, and Close Hatches.

Untapable, a homebred bay filly out of the Prized mare Fun House was the 8-5 favorite in the field of 11. The running time for the 1 1/8-mile test was 1:48.68. Friday’s victory was her eighth win from 11 lifetime starts and boosted her earnings to $2,996,725. Untapable’s sire, Tapit, set a single-season earnings mark with the Distaff victory, breaking a record set in 2007 by Smart Strike .

Immediately after the race, Napravnik announced her retirement from racing on national television, effective after the completion of the Breeders’ Cup Saturday, 1 November. “My husband and I are starting a family and my retirement will start on Monday. I’m very excited,” she said.

The result provided a certain level of vindication for Asmussen, who along with Blasi was implicated in allegations earlier this year of horse abuse made by a former stablehand. He thanked owner Ron Winchell for sticking with him through the scandal.

“I can’t say enough about her and how proud I am of her. I’m proud of the whole team, Rosie (jockey Napravnik), Scott (assistant trainer Blasi) and everyone. She’s an amazing mare to put us on this stage and to perform like she did. Rosie and she are a great combination and they have had a tremendous season. Today, definitely makes her a champion and that’s enough said. She’s had a great year and she’s a great filly. We had faith her. But, we’ve all been to the races, so you never know the outcome.” Asmussen added that Untapable is to remain in training in 2015.

Saturday’s card features 9 races including:-

14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies
Filly & Mare Turf
DraftKings Filly & Mare Sprint
Turf Sprint
Sentient Jet Juvenile
Longines Turf
Xpressbet Sprint
Breeders Cup Mile
Breeders Cup Classic

(source:  Bloodhorse)

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