Highfield Princess’ winning run came to an end as John Quinn’s stable star could only finish fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland on Saturday.
The race was billed as a match between Wesley Ward’s defending champion Golden Pal and Quinn’s five-year-old, who has been a revelation since dropped back in trip this season.
The writing was on the fall from the moment the stalls opened for the former. Just as he did at Royal Ascot, the American favourite was left standing in the gate as the bell rang with Irad Ortiz Jr at pains to make up for lost time – a task that proved too much.
To her credit, Highfield Princess plugged on for fourth, while there was a place on the podium for Kevin Ryan’s Emaraaty Ana (second) and the fast-finishing Creative Force, who ran on strongly for third representing Charlie Appleby.
Quinn was magnanimous in defeat and said: “Jason (Hart) said over five and a half furlongs it was a totally different ball game, and they were flying right from the get-go.
“If she’d had a run or two out here before it might have been a different story, but it’s been a long year and she will a good holiday before going back to racing in Europe.
“She’s never run a bad race and she’s checked out with a good run at the biggest race meeting in the world. It’s been a great thrill for all of us.”
Appleby said of his third: “Creative Force was done for room and forced back, but as I thought he finished well. But James (Dyole) said Naval Crown was never on the bridle.”
The race was won by Caravel, who pinged the gates and never looked back as Brad Cox’s five-year-old landed a shock victory in the hands of Tyler Gaffalione, who doubled his Breeders’ Cup tally less than 24 hours after breaking his duck at the meeting.
Qatar Racing co-own the winner and Sheikh Fahad said: “Brad Cox is the one who gave us a lot of confidence that she’d been working really well, and having Tyler on board was amazing.
“She is very versatile and she can lead or stalk, but as it turned out the place to be was on the lead.
“It’s tough to be out there in front, but she found extra and is a real true fighter.
“She’s in the sales so we will have to discuss with the partnership what to do.”
On winning a Breeders’ Cup race in the Qatar Racing colours, Sheikh Fahad added: “It’s fantastic. That’s what the operation is all about, trying to win races around the world – biggest races, biggest meetings.
“Thankfully we’ve been very lucky to have had winners everywhere around the world. this is our first Breeders’ Cup winner. Very excited, very happy to have that.”