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Jockey Luis Saez celebrates aboard Essential Quality after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
The 37th Breeders' Cup World Championships kicked off on Friday at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, with "Future Stars Friday" with all the 2-year-old championship races on the first day. Conditions were typical for early November, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 60's. However, as has been the case in Kentucky for most of 2020, racing was conducted without paying fans, with only officials, owners, and essential horsemen in attendance. The main track was rated fast and the turf course good (GoingStick reading 7.8).
Essential Quality wins the Juvenile
Jockey David Cohen sent 42-1 Dreamer's Disease to the lead first time by through fractions of 22.58, 45.31, and 1:10.48 while pressed by 38-1 Likeable and stalked by 20-1 Classier and Jackie's Warrior. Turning for home Jackie's Warrior moved up to gain a short lead through 1 mile in 1:35.89 but Essential Quality, 8th early under Luis Saez, came ou 4 wide for room and rallied, outfinishing 94-1 longest shot Hot Rod Charlie to win by 3/4 length in 1:42.09. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to 31-1 Keepmeinmind third, and 1 1/4 more to favorite Jackie's Warrior fourth.
Purse: $2,000,000 Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Essential Quality Saez 9.40 6.20 4.40 12 Hot Rod Charlie Gaffalione 51.60 24.00 6 Keepmeinmind Ortiz 11.20 Winning Time: 1:42.09 $1 Exacta 5-12 299.90 $1 Trifecta 5-12-6 3,829.60 $1 Superfecta 5-12-6-7 40,776.90
Left: Essential Quality in the paddock. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "He overcame a lot today. Distance is no issue with him. He'll run all day. I'm very proud of him and I'm so happy for the Godolphin organization. What a horse. At the 3/8 pole, Luis stayed after him pretty good and I was hoping he wouldn't flatten out, but he stayed on. He's a tremendous horse, has an amazing amount of stamina. We're going to enjoy this one and obviously (the Derby) will be our goal moving forward."
Right: Essential Quality heads back to the barn in his winner's blanket. Winning jockey Luis Saez said, "My horse broke so well. He was in the right spot. I knew there was going to be a lot of speed, so we were in the right spot. At the 3/8, he gave me that kick, so I knew we had a chance to win the race. He can run all day. He's a nice horse." Jimmy Bell, president of owner Godolphin USA added, "This was a pretty amazing performance today. To do what he did to come from off the pace, to run them down like that in his third lifetime start, it takes a ton of talent to do that. I'm sure he's still learning. It's so exciting for everybody this is what you live and dream of."
Left: Second place finisher Hot Rod Charlie in the post parade. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione said, "I had a perfect trip. He broke alertly and I was able to let the speed go. I was able to save ground around the first turn. On the backside he was taking me there the whole way. Going into the second turn I knew I had a lot of horse and the speed was stopping at that point and I don't want to get to the lead too early. I knew they were going to run at us late. I just didn't have enough to hold off the winner."
Right: Third place finisher Keepmeinmind returns after the race. Jockey Jose Ortiz said, "The winner broke out a bit and bumped me, and then I had the seven right outside of me – he's a very fast horse and broke well. I got pinched a little bit early on, which was probably the best thing to happen because I could sit and relax into a fast pace. From the five-eighths pole I started making my run. He made a great move from the five-eighths pole to the wire, I thought I could win the race around the quarter pole."
Left: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Jackie's Warrior in the paddock. Trainer Steve Asmussen said, "It is obviously disappointing but the fractions were just too fast. He's accomplished a lot coming into here. We planned on winning but ended up fourth. Pace makes the race and we ended up fourth."
Right: The horses break from the gate for the Juvenile. Joel Rosario aboard beaten favorite Jackie's Warrior (7) said, "I broke good. It looked like there were were a couple of horses on the outside that wanted to go a little bit, so I held my spot and let them go. It looked like we were going at a good pace in front of me. I thought I was in a good spot. Too bad that those horses came and beat us. He's a good horse. I was in a good spot and he kept running, but those on the outside came strong and beat us."
Fire At Will wins the Juvenile Turf
Jockey Jose Ortiz sent 19-2 Outadore to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.64, 48.12, and 1:12.60 while pressed by 15-2 fourth choice Gretzky the Great and stalked by 30-1 Fire at Will. Turning for home Outadore tired allowing Fire at Will to inherit the lead through 7f in 1:24.22. Kept to task by jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., Fire at Will drew off to win by 3 lengths over late-running favorite Battleground in 1:35.81. It was a neck back to pacesetter Outadore third.
Purse: $1,000,000 Distance: 1 mile turf
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Fire At Will Santana Jr. 62.40 24.40 14.00 9 Battleground Moore 5.60 3.80 8 Outadore Ortiz 7.60 Winning Time: 1:35.81 $1 Exacta 7-9 259.10 550.40 $1 Trifecta 7-9-8 2,285.10 $1 Superfecta 7-9-8-5 27,001.40
Left: Fire At Will circles with his flowers. Winning owner Kirk Wycoff said, "Ricardo rode a beautiful race, but he knew that you needed to be a little more forwardly placed than maybe the horse wanted to be and when you watched the first 1/8 mile he looked to his right, he was very careful, but he didn't stop after he got the horse out of the gate, he got a great position and that's a credit to him. Good horse, good ride."
Right: Fire At Will gets ready to go back to the barn. Jockey Ricarco Santana Jr. said, "I got a beautiful trip. I had plenty of horse in the tank. Thank God, everything played out perfect. He put me where he wanted to be and that's why we won." Trainer Mike Maker added, "I tell you we have been high on him since day one and with each race he's got better. It's very satisfying to get Three Diamonds Farm their very first Breeders' Cup win."
Left: Third place finisher Outadore leads first time by. Jockey Jose Ortiz said, "He got a little tired the last sixteenth, but he ran a helluva race. He was ready 100 percent. Wesley had him ready." Trainer Wesley Ward added, "He ran great. I thought that the fractions were decent to where he could kick on. Talking to Jose, he said when he turned for home he dropped into another gear as we expected. But, take nothing away from that winner. He ran away from us."
Right: The entire field shortly after the start of the Juvenile Turf. Ryan Moore aboard runner-up and beaten favorite Battleground (9) said, "My horse ran super. Very happy with him."
Vequist wins the Juvenile Fillies
Jockey Junior Alvarado sent Dayoutoftheoffice to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.30, 47.12, and 1:11.32 while pressed by Princess Noor and stalked by 13-2 Vequist. Dayoutoftheoffice continued to lead through 1 mile in 1:36.01 but Vequist and jockey Joel Rosario came through on the inside to win by 2 lengths in 1:42.30. It was a nose back to late-running 11-2 fourth choice Girl Daddy third, while favorite Princess Noor failed to rally finishing 5th beaten 4 1/2 lengths.
Purse: $2,000,000 Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Vequist Rosario 15.20 6.80 4.40 3 Dayoutoftheoffice Alvarado 5.20 3.60 5 Girl Daddy Talamo 3.80 Winning Time: 1:42.30 $1 Exacta 2-3 24.00 $1 Trifecta 2-3-5 116.20 $1 Superfecta 2-3-5-1 349.40
Left: Vequist circles with her flowers. Winning trainer Butch Reid said, "My wife (Ginny) did a sensational job with her all week. She really thrived on this air and the weather. She looked great coming in. I knew we would be laying up close. She's a sharp filly. She doesn't mind the inside obviously. I thought she would be forwardly placed and I told (Rosario) to break her sharp and if she's on the lead, that's fine too because last time she came out of the gate a little bit slowly and I think it compromised her trip a little bit. So he broke her sharp and he just tucked her in perfectly on the fence. And I told him, Don't worry about anything because nothing bothers this filly so, gets a little dirt in her face, it doesn't bother her a little bit. I don't know that you ever have that kind of feeling but we knew she was doing very well and we know she's a very talented filly."
Right: Vequist heads back to the barn in her winner's blanket. Jockey Joel Rosario said, "I tried to save ground. It was hard for her in the turn because I had a horse outside me, but she did great. I never gave up my position. As soon as I asked her, she went on with it. It was a very good performance."
Left: Second place finisher Dayoutoftheoffice returns after the race. Jockey Junior Alvarado said, "I thought there would be more speed but nobody seemed to want the lead. I sort of made the lead by default. She never seemed to settle on the lead and I think that made the difference." Trainer Tim Hamm added, "She ran really hard, we're proud of her. No complaints. We had a decent trip on the front end. Not a ton of pressure, no excuses. We talked about the race earlier and we said if no one goes I didn't mind seeing her on the lead. She has a lot of natural speed and does it fairly easy so it didn't shock me."
Right: Fifth place finisher and beaten favorite Princess Noor in the paddock. Trainer Bob Baffert said, "She was in a good spot, he had her in a perfect spot there but she just didn't kick on. I'm pretty disappointed. She just came up empty. I had a lot of confidence in her but the winner ran a big race. They were going pretty fast. She just didn't have it." Jockey Victor Espinoza added, "She broke out of the gate nice. Everything was working perfectly fine for me, but I knew we were in trouble when we hit the five-eighths pole because she was kind of having a hard timing running on the track. She was kind of slipping around. As long I got her in the bridle, she was running but she was forcing herself too much and she was wasting a lot of energy. The minute I started riding her that was it. She backed up and started lugging in. That was it."
Aunt Pearl wins the Juvenile Fillies Turf
Jockey Florent Geroux sent favorite Aunt Pearl loose on the lead through fractions of 22.55, 47.30, and 1:12.21 while stalked by Campanelle and 11-1 Spanish Loveaffair. Turning for home Aunt Pearl opened up a 3 length lead through 7f in 1:23.84. 23-1 Mother Earth put in a strong 4 wide rally from 12th to no avail as Aunt Pearl cruised to a 2 1/2 length win in 1:35.71. It was a neck back to 12-1 Miss Amulet third.
Purse: $1,000,000 Distance: 1 mile turf
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Aunt Pearl Geroux 7.20 5.40 3.80 8 Mother Earth Moore 19.60 10.40 2 Miss Amulet Leparoux 6.40 Winning Time: 1:35.71 $1 Exacta 5-8 83.90 $1 Trifecta 5-8-2 833.80 $1 Superfecta 5-8-2-10 5,062.00
Left: Florent Geroux celebrates aboard Aunt Pearl after winning the Juvenile Fillies Turf. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "She's a super-talented filly who I think can go beyond a mile, even a mile and an eighth, and I was very proud of her. I'm very happy for the connections. You know we've been here before and we're back again, so it's huge. It's huge. We're very blessed to have great clients and great help surrounding us. Very happy with the position we're in both days."
Right: Aunt Pearl heads back to the barn after the race. Jockey Florent Geroux said, "She's a very gifted filly, just amazing. She goes fast but I feel like she's coming back to me. She does it easily. In the morning we breeze in company and sit off another horse and she's very gentle and does it nicely." Co-owner Sol Kumin added, "I saw the first fraction and I got a little nervous but Florent did a great job slowing it down the second fraction. It's a huge win. Brad Cox has done a tremendous job with the filly and she's another Liz Crow buy. We're thrilled."
Left: Second place finisher Mother Earth in the paddock before the race. Jockey Ryan Moore said, "I had a lovely trip. She's a nice filly. Delighted with her. She's a nice filly for next year."
Right: Shortly after the start of the Juvenile Fillies Turf with Aunt Pearl on the lead. Jockey Florent Geroux added, "I know she is extremely fast. I just tried to get away good. She was off to a flying start. She went pretty quick early on and after that I tried to get her to relax. On the backside she came back to me. When I asked her, she had plenty left. She's extremely talented. I think the sky is the limit for her. Over the winter, hopefully she'll grow a little bit and next year we can do it again."
Golden Pal wins the Juvenile Turf Sprint
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. sent Golden Pal to the lead immediately and he set fractions of 21.62 and 44.65 while pressed by 16-1 Into the Sunrise and stalked by 76-1 Blame the Booze. Turning for home, Golden Pal opened up a 4 length advantage through 5f in 56.42. Cowan, 8th early under Ricardo Santana Jr., unleashed a strong 7 wide rally but Golden Pal held him off to win by 3/4 length in 1:02.82. It was a length back to 27-1 Ubettabelieveit third.
Purse: $1,000,000 Distance: 5 1/2 furlongs turf
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 14 Golden Pal Ortiz Jr. 3.60 2.80 2.60 5 Cowan Santana Jr. 8.00 5.80 6 Ubettabelieveit Scott 8.60 Winning Time: 1:02.82 $1 Exacta 14-5 17.10 $1 Trifecta 14-5-6 292.40 $1 Superfecta 14-5-6-3 2,817.90
Left: Owner Randall E. Lowe leads Golden Pal to the winner's circle. Winning trainer Wesley Ward said, "I got a little worried on the backside. Irad kind of lost a little momentum there and took a pretty good hold of him, but then he just accelerated down the lane. When he accelerated past the 1/4 pole, I knew we were OK. I got a little worried on the last part and was hugging onto my son, but we got there. He's a champion colt. (Next year's Breeders' Cup) is where we're heading, but first we're going to Royal Ascot. Here we come. He's going to get them this year!"
Right: Golden Pal heads back to the barn in his new winner's blanket. Ortiz said, "He's a really nice horse. He did the hard job. I just sat on him, waiting for the time to go. He ran great. He really has a lot of potential."
Left: Second place finisher Cowan in the paddock before the race. Trainer Steve Asmussen said, "That looked like a replay of his last (race). He comes running and was second. Hopefully one of these days it will be his turn. But he's obviously a very quality horse. I thought he'd win every day since the Indian Summer and I'm disappointed he was second."
Right: Third place finisher Ubettabelieveit in the paddock. Trainer Nigel Tinkler said, "He obviously missed the break a little. We put ear plugs in as didn't want him to hear the bell. He got the run of the race possibly because he was slowly away. I think he ran a great race. Maybe the last 50 yards stretched him at this age. I think Rowan (Scott, jockey) excelled himself and I look forward to coming again hopefully in the near future with maybe a trip to Del Mar on the agenda next year. He'll have a nice break now. He needs to step up again next year against the older horses but he'll aimed at all the major races over five furlongs."
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