Charlie Appleby took his Breeders' Cup record to nine winners as Rebel's Romance and Modern Games landed the two major turf races at Keeneland on Saturday.
Rebel’s Romance continued his winning streak as Charlie Appleby won the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf for the second year in a row to further enhance his stellar record at the end-of-season meeting.
Unbeaten in four heading to Keeneland, the son of Dubawi was one of two in the race for Appleby and had already proved his thirst for international competition with a pair of wins in Germany this season.
In his first visit to America, the one-time Belmont Stakes hope was given plenty of cover as the field embarked on three turns of the Kentucky turf and was posted wide as the field span the far turn and headed for home.
However, he stormed up the stretch once straightened up by James Doyle to put daylight between himself and Aidan O’Brien’s Stone Age, who had been close to the pace throughout and went down valiantly in defeat.
Bill Mott’s mare War Like Goddess fared best of the home contingent in third, with Mishriff a brave and respectable fourth from his outside draw in his final race.
For Appleby it was his third success at this year’s meeting to equal the three he achieved in Del Mar 12 months ago and he was full of praise for both the winner and his winning jockey, who was striking at the Breeders’ Cup for the first time.
He said: “This horse is well travelled, he’s maturing and what he has done on turf has rejuvenated him and full credit for that goes to the team.
“I’m delighted to give James his first Breeders’ Cup winner – I was confident he would get the job done and it was a great ride to wrap it up.
“I think this horse’s style of running might not lend itself to Dubai and we will stick to turf with him.”
Doyle added: “We went into the race with an open mind, we were a bit slowly away, but I was behind Nations Pride who took me into the race nicely.
“He was a little bit raw round the turns and I was relieved that there was more room for us in the straight.
“I think the faster ground also helped him. He was very relaxed having the pony with him, so relaxed it all took me by surprise to be honest.”
Of Mishriff, John Gosden said: “He’s been an extraordinary horse throughout lockdown, doing Derbys and Saudi Cups.
“Today he was stranded four wide and although we tried him with the blinkers they made no difference. I’m very proud to have had a horse like him who served us well right through to being a five-year-old."
Appleby also won the Breeders’ Cup Mile for the second year in a row as the globetrotting Modern Games continued his love-affair with the USA.
The Dubawi colt won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar 12 months ago – after initially breaking through the gates and being reinstated – and was captain of the Moulton Paddocks raiding party as he repeated the dose over the same distance in Keeneland.
Settled in mid-division alongside 2020 winner Order Of Australia by big-race rider William Buick in the early stages, his jockey was keen to avoid being penned in on the rails.
Angling out wide as the field turned for home, Buick soon pressed the button aboard the French Guineas champion, and he flew home to hit the wire first ahead of the fast-finishing pair Shirl’s Speight (second) and Kinross (third).
Appleby landed the race with Space Blues 12 months ago and the victory of Modern Games (6/4 favourite) enhanced the Godolphin handler’s fine record at the Breeders’ Cup.
Appleby said: “This horse has so many attributes and with his compact size he is able to go through gaps and is neat enough to get into a position to attack as was the case just now.
“At the start of the season we had three horses that were similar, Native Trail and Coroebus were heading for the Guineas and this fella went French Guineas then French Derby where he finished third and didn’t quite stay.
“He got nicknamed the substitute when he was second to Baaeed in the Sussex but won brilliantly in Canada and then ran a cracker on unsuitable ground at Ascot, but he was always going to be coming here.”
On the future he added: “Next season we will look at the Queen Anne as the obvious target and I hope he will be back over here in the States – it will be great if he gets the plaudits which were absent when he won here as a two-year-old.”
Winning rider Buick said: “He jumped a little bit slowly and some horses came in from the outside, but he managed to regather his stride and once I got him to the outer and got him running, I always knew we were going to get there.
“From where I was turning in, I didn’t need to do anything too brave or drastic, I think he’s a great horse, he was a very good two-year-old. He’s won the French Guineas and today I hope he gets the recognition he deserves.”
Ralph Beckett said of Kinross: “He’s run an immense race, just look at where he came from. And beaten around three-quarters of a length. He will come back next season over seven and then a soft ground six, and who knows if he remains in good shape he could end up back here (for the Breeders’ Cup, at Santa Anita).”
His rider Frankie Dettori added: “He ran a great race, he gave so much ground away. He fluffed the start and then it was Plan B when I had to save as much ground as I could.”
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