The Breeders’ Cup is one of the highlights of the horse racing schedule worldwide and brings together the best horses and trainers from across the globe. This year’s championship was another sensational triumph of thoroughbred horse racing, with scintillating performances across the festival, landing the victors huge prize money of anywhere from $1 million to $6 million.
Having previously hosted some of the highest rated races in the world, Keeneland was this year’s venue and the Kentucky turf track had winners from its US homeland as well as from across the Atlantic.
Luck of the Irish
The trip from Ireland to the USA is one steeped in history, and one of the most recent to take this journey just won the richest turf race of the day and romped home to win the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Tarnawa was not the favourite but was tipped by some at 3/1, which shows the importance of researching tips and form to make the best picks ahead of any race.
Tarnawa arrived at Keeneland after landing the prestigious Prix de l’Opera on 4th October with regular jockey Christophe Soumillon, and the pair were all set to light up the USA. Doubts were clearly raised at Tarnawa’s potential before the race though when the Belgian was forced to drop out, leaving trainer Dermot Weld to find a replacement jockey at short notice. Enter Colin Keane.
Keane, who was recently confirmed as Irish Champion Jockey, showed his class when Tarnawa wasn’t making much progression early in the race. The Irish 4-year-old wonder horse made up ground with stealth and pulled out in the stretch, with challengers unable to keep pace. In the end Tarnawa beat favourite Magical by a comfortable one length margin.
With victories at Longchamp and the Breeders Cup, it’s fair to expect the venerable owner of Tarnawa, HH Aga Khan, to push for another crack at Ascot. Tarnawa was a disappointing ninth place on her last visit to England in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes. Surely a second appearance at Royal Ascot is warranted after the progression made by the filly.
How would you feel about making over $3 million per minute for your job? Well that’s exactly the going rate for the owners of Kentucky native, Authentic. The 3-year-old colt won the highest rated and most lucrative race at the meeting, The Breeder’s Cup Classic, at an attractive price of 9/2.
Perhaps a surprising winner as the previous two outings had only resulted in placed finishes and at much shorter prices, Authentic dominated the Classic by leading from start to finish. The display gave veteran jockey John Velasquez his first Classic winner which was a huge relief as it was his 20th attempt in America’s richest race.
Velasquez claimed that his mother-in-law inspired him to win as she had a good feeling about him and the colt. But even he must have been sceptical given the recent results and his history in the event. It’s another success story for trainer Bob Baffert, but it will inevitably open up questions about the integrity of the sport in the US. Baffert’s horses have been tested positive for banned substances on many occasions, including a recent finding for Gamine on the back of a separate 15 day ban received in July.
There is a real feeling that Baffert’s stables and their misdemeanours are bringing US horse racing into disrepute and that eventually, it will test the resolve of the US horse racing regulators who are keen on cleaning up the sport from failed drugs tests and want to improve their image. Baffert must feel untouchable given the quantity of allegations his stables have received, yet the Hall of Famer is still able to field horses, such as Authentic, into the biggest races on the planet.