Dalakhani winning the Arc de Triomphe over Mubtaker at Longchamp in France.
On Sunday, what should be the last of the serious Breeders' Cup prep races were contested with only 20 days left before the World Championships day.
We begin our tour of preps across the pond at Longchamp in France with the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe over 2400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles), Europe's most important race. 7-5 favorite Dalakhani lived up to expectations, overcoming his far outside post position and a wide trip, rallying from sixth at the top of the stretch to win by 3/4 length over 33-1 longshot Mubtaker in a time of 2:32.30 over a heavy turf course. Last year's Breeders' Cup Turf winner High Chaparral was another 5 lengths back in third. The win gives the half-brother of Daylami eight in just nine career starts, his only other loss in this year's Irish Derby. Winning jockey Christophe Soumillon said, "Today we saw a real champion. I've been lucky this year to ride for two great stables [Alain de Royer Dupre and Andre Fabre] but it's the horse that makes the jockey. Dalakhani relaxed well and I was lucky to get behind ones who went on. In the straight he came easily to the others as usual and then he was generous with his response." Owner The Aga Khan did rule out sending Dalakhani to Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup saying he would likely be retired to stud. Results Chart
Bien Nicole was an impressive winner in the Winstar Galaxy at Keeneland.
Back at Keeneland, two major preps were run. First up was the Grade 2 Winstar Galaxy Stakes for older fillies and mares going 1 3/16 miles on turf, prepping for the Filly and Mare Turf. 3-2 favorite Bien Nicole went straight for the front, leading the field by as many as eleven lengths down the backstretch, and finished 7 1/4 lengths in the clear of Approach in second with a final time of 1:55.87. Winning trainer Donny Von Hemel said, "That was amazing! I was a little worried when we were in front by 12 because you never know if they are going to keep going. If everything comes back OK, the plan is to take her on to the Breeders' Cup and we'll see if we can try out that Grade 1 competition again." Results Chart
Take Charge Lady winner of the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland.
Next up was the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes for fillies and mares going 9 furlongs on the main track, prepping for the Distaff. Odds-on favorite Take Charge Lady tracked the leaders back in third early on, then lived up to her odds and her name at the top of the stretch, opening up a clear lead and then holding off the stubborn 2-1 second choice You who came back along the rail. The final running time was 1:49.57. It was another 4 lengths back to 21-1 longshot Miss Linda in third. Winning trainer Ken McPeek said, "She's the kind of filly that takes a light touch and Edgar said she got a little tired the last part. I didn't want to take too much out of her before the Breeders' Cup Distaff." Results Chart
Avanzado winner of the Ancient Title at Santa Anita.
Finally we find ourselves back at Santa Anita, site of the World Championships. The Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup featured the Sprint division. 9-1 longshot Avanzado went gate to wire, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over 2-1 second choice Captain Squire in 1:08.12. 6-5 favorite Yankee Gentleman disappointed back in fourth. Winning jockey Tyler Baze said, "Around the turn he just kind of took a breath and I felt it, and I said OK, here we go. He turned and switched leads on his own, so I helped him a little bit. I just felt him accelerate. He never saw a head and I think that makes a big difference with him. I was expecting to get a little more pressure than I got. When I asked him, I felt him just explode. All the other horses came, and he just took off too." Winning owner Michael Cooper said of the Breeders' Cup: "We won't be going because it's a double supplement ($180,000) because his sire wasn't nominated." Results Chart
Ruler's Court winning the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita.
The juvenile colts had their turn in the Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on the main track. 5-1 fifth choice Ruler's Court lived up to his name, taking command after six furlongs and then just running away from the competition, winning by a whopping 14 lengths in 1:41.27 which set a new stakes record. 11-1 shot Capitano was second while 2-1 favorite Consecrate finished fifth. Winning jockey Alex Solis said, "I just had to hold on, that's all. I was very, very impressed." Winning trainer Eoin Harty said, "I tried something different after his last race at Del Mar, put the blinkers on him and it really seemed to help so I wasn't going to take them off," he said. "Bring 'em on [for the Breeders' Cup]!" Results Chart
The Grade 2 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile featured older horses going a mile on the Santa Anita turf. 4-1 second choice Designed for Luck stalked the early pace of 10-1 shot Apache Wings along the inside. Entering the stretch he swung outside as the tiring pacesetter fell behind, and then he held off the late charge of 9-1 shot Sarafan to win by 1/2 a length in 1:32.61. 7-10 favorite Special Ring disappointed back in fourth. Winning jockey Patrick Valenzuela said, "Today he just showed that he's capable of running 1:32 and change, I mean that's an awesome time over this course. I love the way Vladimir [trainer Cerin] is bringing this horse up to the big races. He does it the right way." Cerin added, "Our plan has been the Breeders' Cup. We knew we'd have to run in this race and have a good showing to be invited and we have a good chance of being invited." Results Chart
The Breeders' Cup Championship Day - The official page for the Breeders' Cup championship races. Just about anything you need to know about it: results, video clips, and race calls for past years, and eventually nominations, entries, and results.