Five things to take home

Late withdrawals

A BETTER system needs to be set up to explain and handle any late scratches. The gate scratch of Albahr in the Juvenile Turf and subsequent scratch/not scratch of Modern Games, who ran for purse money only, left gamblers on track and at home confused, to say the least.

The California Horse Racing Board and Breeders’ Cup Ltd. issued statements in the aftermath, each making the situation even more confusing, and none with an apology.

Ward sprint king

WESLEY Ward owns the meeting’s newest race, the Juvenile Turf Sprint. He’s won three in a row – Four Wheel Drive in 2018, Golden Pal in 2019 and Twilight Gleaming this year – and finished second in the inaugural running in 2017 with Chelsea Cloisters.

World of winners

THE so-called World Championships at times doesn’t feel like it but 2021 bucked that trend. Runners based in Europe accounted for three wins and Japan collected two. Horses bred outside the US also won six races, a record for a single year.

Irish-breds led the way with three wins – Twilight Gleaming, Modern Games in the Juvenile Turf and Space Blues in the Mile – while Japan won two with Loves Only You in the Filly and Mare Turf and Marche Lorraine in the Distaff.

Perfect Del Mar

STAGING the meeting at a smaller venue than Santa Anita Park or Churchill Downs works. Breeders’ Cup reported two-day attendance of 47,089, down quite a bit from the 70,420 in 2019 but the crowd was limited due to lingering effects of the pandemic. Bettors jumped in, however, and record turnover of $182,908,409 was reported.

Big money Mike

•MIKE Smith continues to live up to his nickname “Big Money Mike.” The Hall of Fame jockey only took three Breeders’ Cup mounts but added to his all-time lead by wins and purses when Corniche led from start to finish in the Juvenile. That was Smith’s 27th Breeders’ Cup victory – nine more than John Velazquez – and helped push his earnings in the series to $37,794,605.

Velazquez also ranks second on that table with $34,230,275.