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Garrett Gomez celebrates aboard Midshipman in the winner's circle.
The $2 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) is the premier race for 2-year-old colts and geldings in North America, and is considered a preview for next year's Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown. A field of 12 went to post in this 1 1/16 mile trip over the Pro-Ride main track, with Lane's End Breeders' Futurity winner Square Eddie sent off as the lukewarm 7-2 choice over 4-1 Midshipman, winner of the Del Mar Futurity and second in the Norfolk at Santa Anita last out. European invader Bushranger was the 5-1 third choice on the board, making his first synthetic track start after winning the Prix Morny at Deauville and the Middle Park Stakes and Newmarket.
Midshipman already leads shortly first time by with Square Eddie and Street Hero behind him.
Square Eddie was quickest out of the gate and was soon joined by Midshipman on the front end as the pair battled for the lead through a quarter in 23.55 and a half in 47.08, with 6-1 Street Hero close behind in third. Turning for home, Midshipman had edged ahead to a 1/2 length advantage through 3/4 in 1:10.61. Jockey Garrett Gomez asked Midshipman to pull away and he did, opening up a 1 1/2 length advantage in midstretch. He easily held off Square Eddie through the lane for the 1 1/4 length victory in 1:40.94. It was another 1/2 length back to Street Hero third.
This was the third of four Breeders' Cup wins for jockey Garrett Gomez over the two days of racing. His other wins were in the Sprint with Midnight Lute, the Filly and Mare Sprint aboard Ventura, and the Dirt Mile aboard Albertus Maximus.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 11 Midshipman Gomez 9.20 4.40 3.20 4 Square Eddie Bejarano 5.00 3.80 8 Street Hero Solis 4.40 Winning Time: 1:40.94 $1 Exacta 11-4 19.70 $1 Trifecta 11-4-8 72.20 $1 Superfecta 11-4-8-3 736.70Results chart
Right: Trainer Bob Baffert celebrates with the trophy. John Ferguson, representative of owner Darley Stable, is to the left and his wife Jill to the right. Ferguson said, "The Kentucky Derby has always been a serious goal for Sheikh Mohammed and for Godolphin. And I think this horse appears to be a perfect candidate. We'll just have to see, as I said, to what Sheikh Mohammed decides to do. The great thing about it, if you remember years gone by, people used to say if you won the juvenile, there was a jinx on the Kentucky Derby. Luckily Street Sense put that one to bed well and truly. So I think this horse has a great shot, very, very exciting."
Left: Midshipman heads out to the track for the race. Winning jockey Garrett Gomez, when asked about Midshipman's chances in the Kentucky Derby, said, "It's a little early in the year to really figure out a mile and a quarter. But, you know, he's a good looking colt. He's a long striding horse. You know, he's got the movements to go the mile and a quarter. Now it's just a transfer over to dirt, which I don't think will be a problem. I think the way his action is, that he'll actually relish the dirt. So up until the time we get a chance to see him on it, we're in the blind. But I'm excited."
Right: Midshipman heads back to the barn after the race. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "The speed was difficult to hold. But he's a fast horse. He's a high cruising kind of horse. This horse is getting smarter with every race he's learning. And at the half mile pole, I just loved the way he looked. All you can ask for is when they turn for home, you find out what they're really made of. But when he kicked on for home, he showed he's the real deal. That was probably the most exciting part."
Square Eddie crosses the finish line in second place. His jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "My horse tried to go to the lead and I tried to get him to relax. The other horse on the outside of me (Midshipman) was putting pressure on me, so I got him to relax a little and I was comfortable behind the speed. He never quit running. He tried very hard."
Leandro Mora, assistant to trainer Doug O'Neill added, "That was phenomenal. I didn't want him that close to the lead, but he broke super. I give credit to Garrett Gomez for keeping his horse where he was. In the stretch, I thought he had a chance to go by, but he hesitated because the winner was too close to the rail. But I was pleased. He ran a huge race."
Third place finisher Street Hero returns after the race. His jockey Alex Solis said, "I liked my position all the way around there. I knew we weren't going that fast and I liked where I was. At the 5/16 (pole), I thought I was going to the lead, but that other horse (Midshipman) kept on going. He ran too fast and slipped away from us. My horse ran well; really well. I think he's going to be a hell of a 3-year-old."
His owner-trainer Myung Kwon Cho added, "I was very excited when he was close up. The jockey said he thought farther would be better for him. He tired a little in the stretch, but we are proud of him."
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