Breeders' Cup Championships Underway At Keeneland
After more than a year of planning, the 2015 Breeders' Cup Championships have taken over Keeneland racecourse. WUKY's Karyn Czar is with the multitude of fans enjoying racing's biggest two days.
Runhappy held off Private Zone to win the $1.5 million Sprint by three-quarters of a length at the Breeders' Cup.
Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado won his first Cup race since 2010. The 48-year-old is best known for riding Barbaro to victory in the 2006 Kentucky Derby before the colt was seriously injured in the Preakness and later had to be euthanized.
Runhappy covered six furlongs in a track-record time of 1:08.58 and paid $5.20, $3.40 and $2.80 at 8-5 odds. The 3-year-old colt is trained by Maria Borell.
Private Zone returned $4.20 and $3.80, while Favorite Tale was another length back in third and paid $10.80 to show.
Chad Brown is on a roll at the Breeders' Cup.
The New York-based trainer has won a second straight race, with Stephanie's Kitten rallying from last to win the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland on Saturday.
The 6-year-old mare made her move along the rail before splitting horses in deep stretch for her second Cup win. She captured the 2011 Juvenile Fillies Turf and ran second in this race last year.
One race earlier, Brown won the Filly & Mare Sprint with Wavell Avenue.
Stephanie's Kitten and jockey Irah Ortiz Jr. beat 4-5 favorite Legatissimo, which was Europe's best hope in the race, by 1 1/4 lengths.
She ran 1 3/16 miles in 1:56.22 and paid $17.60, $5.40 and $3.60.
It was a popular victory for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who live in Lexington.
Legatissimo returned $3 and $2.60, while Queen's Jewel paid $6.80 to show.
Bon Jovi guitarist and singer Richie Sambora showed up at Keeneland just before the fifth race and navigated a small sea of fans in the Trophy Lounge.
After getting his program and Daily Racing Form, Sambora was stopped often for pictures and selfies, taking a brief glimpse at the buffet as he made his way through the room.
Just before arriving, Sambora tweeted his support to the camp of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah: "Heading to Breeders Cup to support my dear friends @jazz3162 @JustinZayat and the Champ @amer_pharoah ... Grand Slam it!!!"
There's been another upset at the Breeders' Cup.
Wavell Avenue rallied to win the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint by 1 ¾ lengths at Keeneland on Saturday.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Wavell Avenue ran seven furlongs in 1:22.39 and paid $22, $10.20 and $6.60 at 10-1 odds.
La Verdad returned $8 and $5.40, while Taris paid $4.80 to show.
Cavorting, the 3-1 favorite, finished fourth in the field of 14.
Trainer Chad Brown notched his first victory of the two-day world championships. He has a leading 14 horses entered.
It's a first for Mongolia at the Breeders' Cup.
The Asian country's first representative in the 32-year history of the world championships won the $1 million Turf Sprint with the fittingly named Mongolian Saturday.
The winner's circle was a colorful scene as the owners, dressed in traditional garb and headgear, accepted the trophy after the 15-1 upset.
Trained by Enebish Ganbat, Mongolian Saturday broke from post 14 on the far outside and immediately challenged Ready For Rye for the lead.
Mongolian Saturday won that duel at the top of the stretch and then needed an all-out drive to the wire to hold off filly Lady Shipman by a neck.
The 5-year-old gelding ridden by Florent Geroux ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.49.
Mongolian Saturday paid $33.80, $13.60 and $7.80.
Lady Shipman returned $5.40 and $4.60 while Green Mask paid $5.40 to show.
Undrafted, the 7-2 favorite owned by former NFL star receiver Wes Welker, finished fifth.
Songbird led all the way to win the $2 million Juvenile Fillies by 5 ¾ lengths as the first of nine Breeders' Cup races began at Keeneland.
Ridden by Mike Smith, Songbird ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.73. Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, the 2-year-old filly based in California paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10.
Smith extended his record as the all-time Cup-winning jockey to 22 victories. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer won his second career Cup race.
Rachel's Valentina, a 2-year-old daughter of retired superstar Rachel Alexandra, returned $3.80 and $3.40. Dothraki Queen was another 1 ¼ lengths back in third and paid $5.80 to show.
More horses are out of the Breeders' Cup.
Hard Not to Like and Talmada have been scratched from the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf.
Trainer Christophe Clement says Hard Not to Like coughed a few times after training on Saturday morning, so he's not comfortable running the 10-1 shot.
Talmada was scratched by the Keeneland stewards for unauthorized administration of the anti-bleeding medication Lasix by a private veterinarian. The 4-year-old filly trained by Roger Varian was listed at 30-1 odds after getting into the field on Friday.
The race lost Bawina on Friday when she was scratched because of muscle cramping, leaving 10 horses to run in the Filly & Mare Turf.
Bourbon, Bloody Marys and champagne is flowing at Keeneland as fans settle in for a day of championship racing.
With cloudy skies and 50-degree temperatures in the heart of Kentucky bluegrass country, fans are dressed warmly yet fashionably. Women are wearing dresses and knee-high boots or heels, and men are in suits and ties befitting the historic racetrack set in the bucolic countryside.
It's Halloween, too, so some fans are dressing for the occasion. A man wearing an orange suit decorated with black pumpkins is in the crowd and pumpkins are decorated with the Breeders' Cup logo.
The Keeneland gift shop is jammed and there's a line extending out the door. Customers are snapping up high-priced scarves, ties, and horse-related merchandise. The official Breeders' Cup silk scarf costs $150.
Smooth Roller has been scratched from the Breeders' Cup Classic, leaving seven horses to challenge Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
The 4-year-old gelding was scratched by the Keeneland stewards early Saturday on the advice of the Kentucky state veterinarian because of a tendon issue in Smooth Roller's left front leg.
Smooth Roller has won three of his four career races, all in California. He was listed at 15-1 on the morning line for the $5 million Classic. He is trained by Victor Garcia and was to be ridden by Tyler Baze.
The Classic lost mare Beholder on Thursday when she dropped out because of a fever, spoiling the highly anticipated match-up between her and American Pharoah, who is running for the last time.
The race for prime viewing spots at the Breeders' Cup began when the gates opened.
Neat lines of benches were quickly broken as fans slid them closer to the outside rail, with some spectators building small enclaves near the action. Others brought blankets, some for sitting on the paved grandstand as well as to keep warm.
Within an hour the rail was filled, and there figure to be few open spots in the area as the day progresses. Attendance near 45,000 is expected for the world championships.
Mongolia made a splash at the Breeders' Cup when a longshot horse with an owner and trainer from the central Asian nation won the $1 million Turf Sprint at Keeneland on Saturday.
It was the landlocked country's first representative in the 32-year history of the world championships.
Sent off at 15-1 odds, Mongolian Saturday won by a neck and paid $33.80 to win.
The winner's circle was a jubilant scene with owner Ganbaatar Dagvadorj, who races as Mongolian Stable, and his relatives and friends dressed in colorful traditional garb and headgear. He was joined by his wife, a former Miss Mongolia.
"It's a big dream as Mongolians to participate in this big event," Dagvadorj said. "And as a Mongolian, we ride horses starting at age four. It's part of our tradition."
Known as the "Land of the Horse," Mongolians by reputation are considered some of the best horsemen in the world.
"Some people say Mongolian people are born to ride," trainer Enebish Ganbat said. "Everybody was raised on horses and our horses are field horses."
Dressed in robin egg blue silks with "MGL" in red letters on the back, jockey Florent Geroux and the 5-year-old gelding broke from post 14 on the far outside and immediately challenged for the lead. They took the lead at the top of the stretch and then needed an all-out drive to the wire to hold off Lady Shipman in a photo finish.
"Everybody is crying over this celebration," Ganbat said of the reaction 6,475 miles (10,421 kilometers) away in the capital of Ulan Bator.
Five years ago, Ganbat switched from the long-distance training done in Mongolia to thoroughbred training in the U.S.
"From last year I begin to understand this is how to feed, how to train, how to breed," he said. "It's totally different."
At an event that celebrates the breeding industry, Mongolian Saturday is, ironically, a gelding. He was bred in Kentucky and was purchased for $60,000 at a Keeneland sale.
The victory was worth $550,000 or just over 1 billion tughriks in Mongolian currency.
Stopchargingmaria won the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff by a neck, giving trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Javier Castellano their second victories Friday on the opening day of the world championships at Keeneland.
The last of the day's four Cup races was the most suspenseful, with the stewards needing several minutes to sort through a foul claim and objection before declaring the results official.
Stopchargingmaria ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.98 and paid $16.20, $8.40 and $6 at 7-1 odds.
Stellar Wind returned $9.20 and $6.60, while Pletcher-trained Curalina was another 3 1/2 lengths back in third and paid $7 to show. Pletcher's third horse in the field, Got Lucky, finished 10th.
The stewards examined video of the stretch run, when Stopchargingmaria slightly bumped Stellar Wind and carried her wide toward the grandstand. Victor Espinoza, aboard Stellar Wind, filed the objection against Castellano, saying he was forced to check his horse.
With the crowd of 44,947 clutching their tickets, the stewards made no change in the order of finish, citing insufficient evidence.
Wedding Toast, the 5-2 favorite, finished 11th in the 14-horse field.
Defending champion Untapable didn't run after she developed a fever earlier in the week.
Catch a Glimpse won the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf, giving Canadian trainer Mark Casse his first Breeders' Cup victory.
It was a hard-fought win for the 2-year-old on Friday at Keeneland.
Catch a Glimpse pressed the pace set by Ruby Notion and held off a late run from 5-2 favorite Alice Springs by three quarters of a length.
Florent Geroux was aboard, improving his Breeders' Cup record to 2 for 2. It was the third straight win for Catch a Glimpse, her first victory outside Canada. She paid $14.80, $7 and $5.80.
Alice Springs returned $5.80 and $4, while Nemoralia paid $9.20 to show.
The time was 1:39.08 for the mile over the yielding course.
Liam's Map came from off the pace to win the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile by 2 ½ lengths.
Ridden by Javier Castellano, Liam's Map ran the distance in a track-record time of 1:34.54. The 4-year-old gray colt paid $3, $2.40 and $2.10 as the 1-2 favorite Friday at Keeneland.
This was trainer Todd Pletcher's eighth career Cup victory. Castellano rode the fifth winner of his career in the world championships. Liam's Map earned his second straight Grade 1 victory in his eighth career start.
Liam's Map is usually a front-runner, but he was stuck back in the pack before rallying to wear down pacesetter Lea. Lea returned $4.20 and $3 while Red Vine was another 3 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $3.40 to show. Wicked Strong finished fourth in the 11-horse field.
Hit It a Bomb won the $1 million Juvenile Turf, the first Breeders' Cup race ever held at Keeneland.
The colt closed with a powerful five-wide surge to edge the 5-2 favorite Airoforce by a neck, with Birchwood another neck back in the finish on Friday.
It was the ninth Breeders' Cup win for Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien, and the seventh for jockey Ryan Moore.
Hit It a Bomb overcame post 14, the outside slot, to improve to 3 for 3. This was the U.S. debut for the 2-year-old after a pair of victories in Ireland. He paid $16.40, $9.40 and $6.80.
Airoforce returned $4.40 and $3.20. Birchwood paid $11.20 show.
The time was 1:38.86 for the mile over the course rated yielding.