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Breeders’ Cup: Aidan O’Brien’s Mendelssohn takes $1m Juvenile Turf

Irish trainer increases his record haul of Group One wins to 27 at Del Mar

Mendelssohn, second from right, ridden by jockey Ryan Moore on the way to winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar Race Track in California. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

The Aidan O’Brien-trained Mendelssohn delivered in style on his $3 million price tag with an impressive Breeders’ Cup success in Friday night’s Juvenile Turf at Del Mar.

The bulk of O’Brien’s biggest ever Breeders’ Cup squad compete on Saturday but after September’s unlucky third in the first of the 13 Grade One contests run on Friday night, Mendelssohn justified 9-2 favouritism in style under Ryan Moore.

The son of Scat Daddy commanded a huge purchase price as a yearling and confirmed his Breeders’ Cup pedigree as a half brother to Beholder who won three times at American racing’s shop-window event.

Breaking smartly from stall one, Moore had Mendelssohn in a perfect stalking position throughout and arched out with his running early in the short straight.

It was a 27th Group/Grade One victory of 2017 for O’Brien and a 12th Breeders’ Cup success in all for Ireland’s champion trainer. It was ninth success at the Breeders’ Cup for Moore and a perfect start to the $28 million extravaganza for the Coolmore Stud partnership.

Mendelssohn had belied 50-1 odds on his previous start when runner-up to his stable companion US Navy Flag in the Dewhurst Stakes a month ago and despite reportedly being colty in the Del Mar preliminaries he looked to improve again.

“He’s progressed with every run and he looks to have stepped up again so it’s marvellous,” O’Brien said. “It’s a big team effort and we’re just grateful to be part of it.”

Moore had earlier had an unlucky passage from an inside draw in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf on board Happily but not so much as O’Brien’s other runner September who fluffed the start completely in a race won by Rushing Fall.

But there were no such problems for Mendelssohn who gave Moore a fourth success in the Juvenile Turf on an O’Brien-trained runner.

“He’s a beautiful horse who’s just been backward mentally. Everything went our way,” the Englishman said. “He always travelled like the best horse but when he hit the front he just didn’t know what to do.”

Mendelssohn beat the US runner Untamed Domain while the other Irish starter, Beckford, ran on well from the rear of the field to finish fifth.