Belmont Stakes Contenders
Black-Eyed Susan Day
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First-time winners dominated in the 23rd renewal of the Breeders' Cup World Championships with four jockeys posting their initial victories and five trainers. First-time winning riders were Rene Douglas aboard Dreaming of Anna in the Juvenile Fillies, Calvin Borel aboard Street Sense in the Bessemer Trust Juvenile, Eddie Castro aboard Miesque's Approval in the NetJets Mile and Fernando Jara astride Invasor in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge. Trainers who posted their first Championship victories were Wayne Catalano (Dreaming of Anna in the Juvenile Fillies), Marty Wolfson (Miesque's Approval in the Mile), Michael Matz (Round Pond in the Distaff), Brian Meehan (Red Rocks in the Turf) and Kiaran McLaughlin (Invasor in the Classic).
The record for youngest jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race fell twice Saturday. Twenty-one-year-old Eddie Castro won the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile aboard Miesque's Approval, to lower the standard set by Walter Guerra, who was 22-years-old when he guided Outstandingly to victory in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 1984. Castro's mark was barely two hours old when it was surpassed by 18-year-old Fernando Jara, who captured the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge astride Invasor.
Frankie Dettori also added to the list of jockeys who have who two races at a single Breeders' Cup. No jockey has yet won three on a single year. Seventeen riders have combined to win two Breeders' Cup races on a single card 27 times, with Mike Smith doing it four times (1994, 1995, 1997 and 2002) and Jerry Bailey three times (1995, 1999 and 2000). Dettori is the first jockey who is not based in North America to achieve this feat and because of this he was was the named the fourth recipient of the Bill Shoemaker Award, presented to the outstanding jockey in the Breeders' Cup World Championships, as voted on by the international media covering the event. The two victories increased Dettori's Breeders' Cup total to six, which is tied for 11th-best in the history of the Championships. His mounts have earned $9,141,910, seventh-best all-time.
Edgar Prado became the 20th rider to post Breeders' Cup victories in consecutive years, having won the 2005 Sprint aboard Silver Train and the 2006 Juvenile Fillies on Folklore, and then the 2006 Distaff on Round Pond. The longest such streak belongs to Jerry Bailey, who won races in six consecutive years (1998-2003). Bailey also had a four-year run (1993-96). Corey Nakatani (1996-99) and Mike Smith (1992-95) are the only other riders with four-year streaks.
D. Wayne Lukas continued his streak as the only trainer to have had a starter in every Breeders' Cup when Pegasus Wind entered the gate in the Juvenile. Despite Pegasus Wind finishing 11th, Lukas still holds the lead in earnings at the Cup with $19,645,520. As for multiple winners, this year eight different trainers saddled Breeders' Cup winners. Trainer Doug O'Neill became the fourteenth trainer to have won races in consecutive years, winning last year's Juvenile with Stevie Wonderboy and then this year's Sprint with Thor's Echo. No trainer won more than one race this year.
The top equine performance of the day would have to be Ouija Board, as she became the first repeat winner of the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, having won the 2004 edition and finishing second last year. She joins a very select club of horses who have multiple wins, including Miesque, Lure, Bayakoa, Da Hoss, Tiznow, and High Chaparral.
Dreaming of Anna
Perfect Drift became the second horse to start five times in the Breeders' Cup as he competed in a record fifth consecutive Classic. Saturday's eighth-place finish was his worst showing since finishing 12th in the 2002 Classic at Arlington Park. The 7yo gelding had finished sixth in 2003 at Santa Anita, fourth in 2004 at Lone Star Park and third in 2005 at Belmont Park. Kona Gold, the 2000 Sprint winner at Churchill Downs, is the only other horse to start in a Breeders' Cup race five times.
1998 Classic champion Awesome Again has now sired three Breeders' Cup winner with Round Pond's win in the Distaff. Awesome Again's other Breeders' Cup winners are Ghostzapper (2004 Classic) and Wilko (2004 Juvenile.) Four other Classic winners have sired Breeders' Cup winners. They are A.P. Indy (Tempera, 2001 Juvenile Fillies), Tiznow (Folklore, 2005 Juvenile Fillies), Wild Again (Elmhurst, 1997 Sprint) and Unbridled, who sired three Cup winners - Unbridled's Song in the 1995 Juvenile, Anees in the 1999 Juvenile, and Halfbridled in the 2003 Juvenile Fillies.
Churchill Downs continues to dominate as the best attended track to host the Breeders' Cup, attendance with this year coming in as the third highest ever at 75,132. Churchill had 80,452 in 1998 and 76,043 in 2000. They did break the wagering records for both common pool sources with $136,726,378 and on-track handle with $18,259,971. These both eclipsed the previous records by a wide margin.
This year was the first time the Breeders' Cup was televised by a cable-only network as ESPN took over the signal from NBC. This change resulted in an all-time low rating for the broadcast in the 23 year history of the event. Many people still don't have cable or only have basic cable which doesn't include ESPN, at least 20 million fewer households than can receive the major networks, plus it was not broadcast in Canada as ESPN is not available there at all, a market of over 10 million households. The program registered a national rating of only .7, down 53% from the 1.5 rating in 2005. Each ratings point equals approximately 1.1-million households, meaning this year's event was seen in about 990,000 households.
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