Flightline storms home at Keeneland (image courtesy of Breeders' Cup)
Flightline storms home at Keeneland (image courtesy of Breeders' Cup)

Breeders' Cup Saturday round-up: Wins for Flightline, Modern Games and Rebel's Romance

Charlie Appleby added two more Breeders' Cup winners to his superb tally thanks to Modern Games and Rebel's Romance, while Flightline shone in the Classic.

Flightline compared with the greats

The remarkable Flightline lived up to the hype with a stunning success in the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland.

Unbeaten from five starts heading into the flagship Grade One contest in American racing, the John Sadler-trained four-year-old made it a perfect six with a wide-margin win over 40/1 shot Olympiad in the hands of jockey Flavien Prat. Taiba finished third at 10/1.

Life Is Good made the running but Flightline was right on his coat-tails and the pair stormed nine lengths clear of the chasing pack down the back straight. The winner took it up at the top of the stretch and eased into a commanding lead before storming to a famous victory, passing the post eight and a quarter lengths in front under hands-and-heels riding.

Prat said: "He'd shown so much talent we were expecting a great performance from him. I wanted to get myself in the clear and he relaxed really well down the back.

"No, once I broke well and knew where I wanted to be, I was in control.

"John (Sadler) has done a tremendous job."

“We are all really thrilled, he’s a remarkable horse and one of the best that ever looked through a bridle,” said Sadler.

“I haven’t been sleeping for the past two weeks and this is a culmination of a lifetime’s work, but how do you describe greatness? I think you have to go back to Secretariat and Seattle Slew, but this horse is certainly one of the best we have seen in a long time.

“I feel very blessed to train him and I have tried to be a good steward because when you are good to your horse, they tend to be good to you.”

On the future he added: “We are in a partnership with Flightline and in the course of the next few says we need to get together and discuss what is best for the horse. Right now, he will go down Rice Road to his stable and have a good dinner.”

Romance blossoms in Turf

James Doyle celebrates on Rebel's Romance (image courtesy of Breeders' Cup)
James Doyle celebrates on Rebel's Romance (image courtesy of Breeders' Cup)

Charlie Appleby won the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf for the second year in succession as Rebel's Romance struck gold at Keeneland under James Doyle.

It was a ninth Breeders' Cup success for the trainer but a first for jockey James Doyle, who picked up the ride on Rebel's Romance after William Buick chose market leader Nations Pride.

Doyle had to wait for a run but he avoided all the traffic on the inside by coming four or five wide into the home turn, the horse picking up in fine style and motoring down the outside past eventual runner-up Stone Age.

Doyle gave him one crack of the whip and it was all but over, Mishriff running all too late in his swansong race alongside Nations Pride and War Like Goddess for the place money.

Doyle said: "I've come over quite a few times on fancied horses and have been a little bit immature on these tight tracks in the past. By getting used to it coming here over a number of years had helped, it's nice.

"My sister (jockey, Sophie Doyle) has been based here eight years or so now I've been coming with fancied runners and it feels as though I've let her down slightly. But this is great.

"I knew William wasn't 100% convinced (he'd picked the right horse in Nations Pride)."

Appleby said: "I'm delighted, we're all one big team. James (and me) had his first Guineas winners this year and it's been great to provide him with a first Breeders' Cup winner.

"The horse has turned himself around - I watched him train on the dirt here the other day and I joked that I wished I'd run him in the dirt race.

"Time has obviously helped him, he's another son of Dubawi (Modern Games, Mile winner earlier in the day) and he's continued to develop. The sire does it all, sprinters, milers and mile and a half horses."

Malathaat lunges late in Distaff

Malathaat (left) sticks her neck out to win (courtesy of Breeders' Cup)
Malathaat (left) sticks her neck out to win (courtesy of Breeders' Cup)

A photo was required to determine the winner of a dramatic Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff as Malathaat left it oh so late to get on top under the famous John Velazquez drive.

The race was billed as a battle of the Todd Pletcher-trained pair Nest (the short-priced favourite) and second-favourite Malathaat, but Nest was unable to show her best and it was down to Malathaat to fly the Pletcher flag.

At the top of the home straight it was Secret Oath who still held sway, followed by fellow outsider Blue Stripe, with Nest beginning to feel the pinch between runners.

The sizeable Malathaat was just starting to engage top gear on the far outside, while Clairiere was mounting her challenge right on the inside in gritty fashion.

That pair lunged late either side of 33/1 shot Blue Stripe and, in a terrific head-bobbing finish, it was ultimately Malathaat (3/1) - third in the same race at Del Mar last November - who had her head down when it mattered most.

Pletcher said: "At first I thought we won but they kept playing the replay. I think the blinkers have made a big different, it's hard to make a change on a horse that's been so successful.

"It gives me great satisfaction. I was concerned when Nest was wide throughout, everything was looking tough right from the start."

More fun and Games for Appleby

Charlie Appleby claimed a second Keeneland winner of the weekend as Modern Games won the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile.

Modern Games won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in surreal circumstances last year, having been withdrawn and reinstated in a dramatic few minutes at Del Mar. He was able to run for purse money only 12 months ago and was greeted with boos from the local racegoers when returning to the winner's circle as all bets struck on the horse had been voided.

However, the son of Dubawi showed his tenacity once more, overcoming a tough race in defeat at Ascot on Champions Day to run out a ready winner, despite not being the best away from the starting gate.

William Buick was content to bide his time before getting to work at the top of the home straight, Modern Games picking up in tremendous style on the wide outside to gun down Shirl's Speight (66/1) and Frankie Dettori on Kinross (13/2), with Ivar back in fourth at 14/1.

Buick said: "He was really professional to do what he did last year and today he was perfect, although he just came out a little slowly from the gate. He anticipated and missed it (the start).

"He stays the trip well and he loves this ground. I stayed off the rail, I thought he was the best horse in the race and didn't want to take any chances.

"When we come over here to the Breeders' Cup it's a great privilege and we bring some great horses, but you also need some luck on your side."

Appleby said: "He's just the ultimate professional and one of the gamest horses I'll be lucky enough to train. He's one of those horses who does what it says on the tin, basically.

"He's a typical Dubawi - he won't lie down. He loves it over here, he's not the biggest horse but he seems to grown an inch here.

"Hopefully he might get applauded when he comes in this time, he deserves it anyway!"

The returning Domestic Spending was treated on the track having appeared to go wrong and a Breeders' Cup statement read: "Domestic Spending was radiographed and does not appear to have a lower limb fracture. At this time, he is being stabilized for transfer to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital for further evaluation."

Elite performance in Sprint heat

Elite Power swoops to score (image courtesy of Breeders' Cup)
Elite Power swoops to score (image courtesy of Breeders' Cup)

Elite Power won the Qatar Racing Breeders' Cup Sprint as odds-on favourite Jackie's Warrior disappointed again on the big stage.

Jackie's Warrior was beaten at skinny odds at the Breeders' Cup meeting as a juvenile in 2020, and again in this race in 2021, and it was more of the same as Steve Asmussen's four-year-old could manage only a place after running out of gas close home, Irad Ortiz Jr and Elite Power sweeping past Super Ocho and Jackie's Warrior, who had taken the field along in the early stages, to score at 6/1.

C Z Rocket ultimately took the runner-up spot at 33/1, with 8/11 fav Jackie Warrior only third.

Winning trainer Bill Mott, who also saddled Cody's Wish earlier on the card, said: "He's done nothing wrong this year, since we brought him back he's been perfect since beaten first time. Cutting back today was always a bit concerning but he came down the middle and ran them all down.

"I think he's improved throughout the course of the year and will keep improving."

Tuesday delivers on Breeders' Cup Saturday

Oaks winner Tuesday returned to peak form with a scintillating success in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, giving trainer Aidan O'Brien a third Keeneland winner of the weekend.

The well-backed 7/2 chance - the sole selection from Matt Brocklebank in the Antepost Value Bet column last week, settled in midfield under Ryan Moore as In Italian and the winner's stablemate Toy helped set a good pace up front.

In Italian was still going great guns out in front on the final turn for home but Moore switched Tuesday out towards the middle of the track and she gradually closed the gap before just getting on top with a few strides to go.

Market leader Nashwa ensured a difficult trip on the inside rail under Hollie Doyle and could only run on for a well-held fourth in the closing stages.

Moore said: "It was very straightforward, the pace was good. The pace was solid and she was in a good rhythm. Aidan had her just right today, she was in great form."

It was O’Brien’s first win in the race and he said: “She ran in the Guineas and then won the Oaks when in fact she had only reached the age of three, so she was very immature.

“We knew we needed to compete between Epsom and this race which was always her long-term target, but those were not the be all and end all, and the intensity of her work had improved a lot since Arc weekend.

“Ryan gave her a brilliant ride, I thought her trip was a mile and a quarter but she has won over a mile and a half and she got this trip (an extended nine furlongs) well enough."

On future plans he added: “The plan might be to go to Ashford Stud and retire her, but there’s a good chance I think of her staying in training next year in which case I would consider the Hong Kong Cup, but it all rests on her not going to Ashford."

Wish comes true in Dirt Mile

Cody's Wish returns victorious (courtesy of Breeders' Cup)
Cody's Wish returns victorious (courtesy of Breeders' Cup)

Cody's Wish was a fairy-tale winner of the Big Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

A once-in-a-lifetime request gave Cody Dorman, a teenage boy with a rare genetic disorder, the chance to meet a racehorse at Godolphin’s Gainsborough Farm and the foal he met, who was ultimately named Cody's Wish, completed his remarkable rise to stardom on Saturday with a tenacious success under Junior Alvarado.

The four-year-old toughed it out in the straight to beat Cyberknife (3/1) and Slow Down Andy (20/1).

Trainer Bill Mott said: "There's a big story behind this and I think luck is following this horse.

"He had a great trip today and Junior rode him very well but besides all that, he's a very special horse."

Golden Pal beaten as Caravel causes Sprint upset

There was a 50/1 shock in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint as five-year-old mare Caravel made all the running to hold off British raiders Emaraaty Ana (20/1) and Creative Force (15/2), with hot favourite Golden Pal down the field after fluffing the start.

Golden Pal ruined his chance as the stalls opened and it paved the way for Tyler Gaffalione to set the pace to the race on Caravel. She stayed on strongly to beat Emaraaty Ana, who ran a big race for trainer Kevin Ryan, while Creative Force flew home late to be third under William Buick. Europe's leading sprinter of 2022, Highfield Princess, finished a creditable fourth at 11/4.

Winning trainer Brad Cox, claiming his ninth Breeders' Cup success, said: "I knew if she got in front turning in she'd be tough (to beat).

"You just have to keep her happy, she's very honest. When they turned for home she got a bit of daylight on them and I knew they'd be running on behind but she held on.

"They might be brining her back to race next year, we'll see how it goes."

Caravel wins the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (courtesy of Breeders' Cup)
Caravel wins the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (courtesy of Breeders' Cup)

Six in a row for Goodnight Olive

The Chad Brown-trained Goodnight Olive won the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, kicking off the Saturday action in fine style.

The four-year-old daughter of Breeders' Cup Classic hero Ghostzapper has gone through the gears in a major this year, progressing to win the Grade One Ballerina Handicap at Saratoga last time, and she drew clear of Echo Zulu (4/1) in the straight to justify 15/8 favouritism and bring up a sixth straight success.

Wicked Halo was third at 14/1 with the reining champion Ce Ce fourth this year at 10/1.

Winning jockey Irad Ortiz jnr was landing the race for a third time in his career and said: "It was amazing, she broke on top of the field and I took my time. She's got tactical speed. She sits and waits for me (to ask her).

"Chad has taken his time with her and she's responded so well, getting better and better."

Goodnight Olive (courtesy of Breeders' Cup)
Goodnight Olive (courtesy of Breeders' Cup)

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