American Pharoah produced a dazzling performance to lead his rivals a merry dance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland. The first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978, the Bob Baffert-trained three-year-old bounced back from a shock defeat in the Travers Stakes to confirm beyond any doubt his superstar credentials.
There might have been a brief moment when his rivals had a flicker of hope as they closed down the back, but it was just a flicker as he strode away in magnificent fashion when Victor Espinoza got lower in the saddle. Effinex, a huge outsider, ran a big race to be second.
In contrast, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Gleneagles never looked happy at any stage on the dirt and came home in his own time when it was clear his chance had gone.
O’Brien said of the dual Classic-winning Gleneagles, who has had plans constantly interrupted due to unsuitably soft ground through the summer: “It was a massive ask, and I take my hat off to the lads for letting him run.
“I’ve always thought he was a really good, fast-ground miler and when you consider the things that have happened to him this year, it’s just nice to see him come back safe and sound. He is going straight to stud now.
“He was trained for four other races without running, but let’s take our hat off to the winner — you won’t see many things in your life to rival what he has achieved.
“All in all it has been a great week, and we have no complaints at all.”
O'Brien had more to celebrate when Found spoiled Golden Horn's swansong when denying him victory in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Keeneland. Pacemaker Shining Copper blazed a trail but his race was run with half a mile still to travel, and Frankie Dettori made his move on Derby and Arc hero Golden Horn at that point.
However, Ryan Moore was sitting in his slipstream on Found and despite Golden Horn battling hard once headed by the filly, the winner stuck to her guns and flashed past the post with a slender advantage.
Found — only the third filly to win the race after Pebbles and Miss Alleged — had endured a luckless run behind Golden Horn in the Arc, having been second to Gosden’s star in the Irish Champion Stakes and occupying the same position at Ascot on Champions Day.
O’Brien said: “She’s a very special filly, when you think she has run in two Champion Stakes and an Arc, and now this.
“To do it all in a month is remarkable. She was drawn badly in the Champion Stakes (at Ascot), and although she came out of it well, I thought the lads’ decision to come here was a little bit far fetched to be honest, but she didn’t have any luck in any of her races.
“I take my hat off to them for running her.
“At the start of the season, I did think she was the one for the Arc, but today she has more than made up for that and Ryan has given her a super ride.”
Coolmore partner Michael Tabor said: “At the beginning of the season Aidan was adamant this was our Arc filly. She didn’t get the rub of the green, but with Aidan when he says something it always comes right in the end.
“When Aidan says something eventually it will happen as he knows the difference.”
Nyquist extended his unbeaten record to five with victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The son of 2010 Juvenile hero Uncle Mo has carried all before him on the west coast and already had two Grade Ones in the bag.
The Doug O’Neill-trained colt swept to the front halfway down the straight and had enough in reserve to hold his old rival Swipe, who had chased him home on three previous occasions, with the line coming just in time.
Irish interests were focused on Aidan O’Brien’s Norfolk Stakes winner Waterloo Bridge, but he travelled in the rear under Ryan Moore and only made limited headway in the closing stages.
Filly & Mare Turf
David Wachman’s Legatissimo had to settle for second as Stephanie’s Kitten went one better than 12 months ago to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Winner of the 1000 Guineas, Nassau Stakes and Matron Stakes, Legatissimo was strongly fancied to add another top-level prize to her seasonal haul, but had a blip on leaving the stalls as she appeared to stumble slightly.
Quite keen as well from there as she got a position on the rail, Ryan Moore had to get to work before the home straight, having to switch wide to make his challenge.
The winner, meanwhile, raced in last for Irad Ortiz Jr and had a terrific ground-saving passage on the inside of runners on Chad Brown’s victor.
Coming from behind Legatissimo she had the better acceleration and enough in the tank to see it out, with Freddy Head’s Queen’s Jewel running a remarkable race to finish third, having lost her position at one stage.
Wachman said: “It’s just been a long year, she has run well, but there are no excuses.”
Head said of Queen’s Jewel: “I am very happy, because she has run well and finished her race well, although she appeared to lose her action a bit on the final turn, which made her become unbalanced.
“At this stage I do not know whether she will remain in training.”
The Ralph Beckett-trained Secret Gesture led until the business end, where she faded.
Beckett said: “That was just not her today.”
Frankie Dettori and Undrafted were out of luck as Mongolian Saturday lifted the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Royal Ascot winner Undrafted had just one behind him through the early stages, with just a steady gallop on up front, and although making some progress the Wes Ward-trained gelding was under pressure turning for home.
Having been on the lead throughout, Mongolian Saturday had enough in reserve to hold Lady Shipman and Green Mask, with Undrafted having to settle for fifth place.
Dettori said: “He wants six and a half furlongs, the ground is proper good, but not fast enough for him.”
Ryan Moore partnered ex-Aidan O’Brien-trained The Great War for Ward but could never get in a blow.
The rider said: “Five and a half is not really his distance and he was always struggling to get up there.”