As Breeders’ Cup is a movable feast, each year the tracks, themselves, play a role in the outcome. For example, no two turf or dirt surfaces are exactly alike. The length of the stretch turning for home is different at each track. And, of course, there is the weather.
This year at Keeneland, the weather was great on Friday. However, while the rain held off on Saturday, the wind did not. If you do not think that’s a factor when you turn for home and either get a 25 mph head or tail wind…think again. Likewise, the Keeneland course has a notoriously short stretch which played to front runners the entire meet. That stat held up in many of the races we saw over the course of the two-day event this weekend.
That being said, here are a few of the highlights:
***Cody’s Wish, a four-year-old Curlin colt, edged out Cyberknife to win the Dirt Mile on Saturday for his owner/breeder Godolphin. It was his seventh win in eleven starts under the guidance of trainer Bill Mott. But that’s not the significance. Cody’s Wish is named for Cody Dorman, a young teenage boy suffering from a rare genetic disease which paralyzed him and confines him to a wheelchair. He is unable to speak but communicates using his eyes to work a special voice-activated device. Cody was present for the win and in the winner’s circle for the trophy presentation. Many tears were shed; and, it was heartwarming to see the young boy and the horse show their mutual affection for one another.
***Flightline is truly a superstar. He toyed with a very nice group of horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and, once again, was never really asked to dig down and give his best effort. Unfortunately, we will never see the bottom as he was retired to stud at Lane’s End Farm yesterday. They did what was logical. He really has nothing more to prove. Flightline’s 121 Beyer was surpassed this year only by Flightline, himself, in the Pacific Classic. Wow! What an athlete! I saw the video of his arrival and his new home. Trust me, this horse will live a more luxurious life than most people.
***Per my previous article, Charlie Appleby and the Europeans did, indeed, dominate the Breeders’ Cup turf races. The only American winner was Caravel, who gave jockey Tyler Gaffalione his first ever Breeders’Cup victory. Caravelle went off at 43-1. No respect.
Finally, there were some notable injuries. Epicenter, the three-year-old champion, suffered a condylar fracture (ankle) in the Classic and was vanned off. Surgery on Sunday was successful but his racing career is over. Domestic Spending suffered a serious pelvic fracture off a 440 day layoff earlier on the card and his prognosis is uncertain. It is perplexing to me that a horse who needed that much time off would return to racing in the toughest venue in the world. Not a fan of that decision. And, both the Iowa-bred phenom, Tyler’s Tribe, and Baffert-trained Messier bled badly in their respective races. I do not like the no Lasix rule. Never have and never will.
I had quite a stellar handicapping day on Friday but did not feel as confident on Saturday. I tend to pay more attention to the juvenile races in preparation for the upcoming Kentucky Derby each year. But I am glad I got to witness the Flightline performance. It was an unforgettable moment for racing fans everywhere.