The 34th annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships visited Del Mar, “Where the Turf Meets the Surf,” for the first time on Friday and Saturday, November 3-4, providing an exciting exhibition of some of the finest Thoroughbred race horses on Planet Earth.
The day was capped off by Gun Runner laying to rest any question of who will be the 2017 Horse of the Year. The talented chestnut took command of the 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at the start under jockey Florent Geroux and never looked back. The four-year-old son of Candy Ride turned back a challenge in the lane from Collected, who tracked throughout, and pulled off to triumph by 2 1/4 lengths for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Owned by Ron Winchell’s Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm, Gun Runner stopped the clock in 2:01.29 over Del Mar’s fast main track. While he wasn’t the favorite, the multi-millionaire was close when going off the second choice at nearly 5-2.
One race before the Classic, Talismanic got the best of both 3-1 second choice Beach Patrol and 7-5 favorite Highland Reel in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Trained by Andre Fabre, the four-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro pulled off the half-length win at 14-1 with jockey Mickael Barzalona aboard.
World Approval more than lived up to his 5-2 favoritism in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) earlier on the card. With John Velazquez holding the reins for trainer Mark Casse, the gray Northern Afleet gelding secured a 1 1/4-length margin of victory over Lancaster Bomber, who was on top of a six-horse photo on the wire.
The Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) saw 11-1 Wuheida score by a length for Godolphin under William Buick. The Charles Appleby-trained daughter of Dubawi earned her first win of the year in this spot.
Bar of Gold continued the trend of longshots visiting the winner’s circle, and actually proved the highest price of the day when gutting out a nose victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at 66-1 under Irad Ortiz Jr. The John Kimmel-conditioned mare paid $135.40 for the win. Conversely, Roy H was only worth $11.80 for taking the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) with Kent Desormeaux in the irons. One of two Breeders’ Cup scorers on the day for trainer Peter Miller, the five-year-old gelding was the near 5-1 third choice.
Stormy Liberal was the second Miller trainee to deliver on the day, though the Stormy Atlantic gelding was the first to score three races prior. Jockey Joel Rosario guided the five-year-old bay to a head victory over fellow Miller charge Richard’s Boy in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). The Peter Miller-trained exacta comprised of Stormy Liberal (30-1)/Richard’s Boy (13-1) was worth $277.50 for $1.
A pair of juveniles had their turn in the spotlight when upsetting the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Good Magic was sent off at 11-1 in the Juvenile but easily romped home a 4 1/4-length winner under jockey Jose Ortiz. Caledonia Road kicked off the Breeders’ Cup Saturday action with a drawing-off, 3 1/4-length score in the Juvenile Fillies. Mike Smith piloted the bay lass, who left the gates at 17-1.