AIDAN O’Brien and Charlie Appleby led the European charge, winning a combined six races Friday and Saturday.
Caravel, trained locally by multiple Eclipse Award-winning conditioner and Kentucky native Brad Cox, won the $1 million Turf Sprint at almost 43/1 to prevent a sweep of the seven grass events by Europeans.
East Coast horsemen – particularly those who spent the summer at Saratoga – enjoyed a fruitful Breeders’ Cup.
Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher, Brad Cox, Bill Mott and Mark Casse, who occupy five of top seven spots on the North American list of leading trainers by earnings, each won at least one race.
Pletcher and Mott won two; with the former taking Friday’s $2 million Juvenile with Forte and Saturday’s $2 million Distaff with Malathaat and the latter scoring in the Dirt Mile with Cody’s Wish and Sprint with Elite Power. Cox trains Caravel and Brown sent out favored Goodnight Olive to win the Filly and Mare Sprint.
Romance romps to Turf glory
Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (Grade 1) (Turf) 1m 4f
REBEL’S Romance capped another monster Breeders’ Cup for Godolphin and Appleby. They teamed to win three races – with the owner picking up another when Cody’s Wish won the Dirt Mile for trainer Bill Mott – a year after winning three at Del Mar.
Rebel’s Romance won the Turf in his second sojourn to the US. He first came last year, as a Kentucky Derby and later a Belmont Stakes candidate following a win in the UAE Derby at Meydan.
A hind leg infection kept him out of action for almost 10 months and when the homebred son of Dubawi did return in Dubai he looked a shade of his former self with well-beaten runs on the dirt.
Appleby switched the gelding to the grass and he hasn’t lost since, rattling off five straight wins that also include the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin and Group 1 Preis von Europa in Germany before the Turf.
James Doyle rode Rebel’s Romance to a two and a quarter-length win over fellow Irish-bred Stone Age and jockey Ryan Moore with the American mare War Like Goddess third, Mishriff fourth, Nations Pride fifth and Broome sixth.
“Delighted. The horse is maturing and well-travelled now,” Appleby said. “What he’s done this season on the turf has been … rejuvenated, from a horse that at one stage we looked like we might have been losing.
“But a typical Dubawi, he’s gotten stronger. full credit to the team. Delighted for James to have his first winner. It was a rough race out there.
“As James quite rightly said, getting a horse like him around the turns was never going to be easy, just the size of him.
“But you could see the way he was traveling into the race that if he had the right horse under him, which we visually could see him, we were confident that he’d get the job done. A great ride by James.”
FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (Grade 1) (Turf) 1m
MODERN Games’ victory came exactly a year after his controversial win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, when he was announced as a late scratch before being allowed to run for purse money only.
The homebred son of Dubawi avoided any doubts in the $2 million Mile, coming with a furious and wide late run as the 7/5 favourite to outfinish 55/1 longshot Shirl’s Speight, Kinross and Ivar.
Regular rider William Buick rode Modern Games to win in 1m 33.96 secs, just about a second off the course mark over firm ground.
“He’s a great horse,” Buick said. “He was a great two-year-old. Obviously won the Juvenile Turf in Del Mar. And he’s a French 2,000 Guineas winner. He’s ran over various distances.
“Today, I think he will finally get the recognition he probably deserves.”
Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Grade 1) 1m1½f
COOLMORE’s Tuesday earned the respect of the players coming into the Filly and Mare Turf despite a string of four losses since her narrow triumph in the Oaks in early June at Epsom.
The 4/1 third choice in the field of 12, Tuesday came with a five-wide run into the lane under Moore to win by a length over second choice In Italian with 32/1 longshot Lady Speightspeare third and 5/2 favourite Nashwa fourth.
The three-year-old daughter of Galileo gave O’Brien his third win on the weekend – the most in a single year for the trainer at the Breeders’ Cup. He also moved into a tie for second by career Breeders’ Cup earnings ($30,625,590) and a tie for fourth by wins (16).
Moore, honoured with the Bill Shoemaker Award for top jockey of the meeting, rode Tuesday to her third victory from nine starts in 2022.
Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Grade 1) 1m 1f
SHADWELL Stable’s Malathaat improved to four-for-four at Keeneland when she won a three-way photo over Blue Stripe and familiar rival Clairiere in the nine-furlong Distaff.
Last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner and champion three-year-old filly locked up the older dirt female title with a nose victory under regular pilot John Velazquez.
“She’s always given us confidence,” Pletcher said. “She’s been a lovely filly from Day 1. And I thought she was training super coming into the race. She obviously likes Keeneland.
“She was giving us every indication she would show up and run her ‘A’ race like she almost always does.”
Emotional win for Cody’s Wish
Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Grade 1) (Dirt)
CODY’S Wish, named for Kentucky teenager Cody Dorman who battles Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome from his wheelchair, followed up his victory in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga in late August with a game victory over Cyberknife in the Dirt Mile.
Godolphin’s homebred son of Curlin developed a unique bond with Dorman during a 2018 Make-A-Wish event at Godolphin’s Gainsborough Farm and the heartwarming tale added another chapter in the Dirt Mile.
“It’s a well-documented story, and it’s been this unbelievable story from the get-go when Cody Dorman first met Cody’s Wish as just a foal in the barn,” said Michael Banahan, director of bloodstock for Godolphin USA.
“They developed this bond. And he saw him a year and a half later, as a two-year-old, and we were worried about being a rambunctious, strong two-year-old dealing with him at that stage. And the horse put his head down in his lap. We were all surprised about that.
“And just seemed like they had this connection. The Dormans came out last Wednesday, and Bill had the horse out with Cody Dorman as well. He got down, nosed at him as well.
“Seems like he knows who Cody Dorman is and to have this little relationship with each other – and he’s just been a special horse for the family, for us. It’s just like a Hollywood story. It’s hard to script.”