The Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita November 1-2 produced plenty of memorable performances.
Dominant victories, heart-pounding finishes, impressive favorites, shocking upsets—the 2019 Breeders’ Cup had it all.
Which were your favorite moments and performances from the two-day extravaganza? Looking back after a couple of days, here are the moments that stand out in my mind.
Bricks and Mortar overcomes adversity in the Turf
Bricks and Mortar had a tough time of things in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). In his first start at 1 1/2 miles, he was uncomfortable and rank while racing in tight quarters between horses and repeatedly tossed his head while being hard-held off the pace. Many horses wouldn’t fire after a trip like this, but Bricks and Mortar was resilient. Once he got clear in the stretch, he accelerated furiously to run down longshot United and win by a head. This was a heart-pounding performance from the probable Horse of the Year and my favorite moment of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup.
Iridessa rallies to victory in the Filly & Mare Turf
I’m a little biased here, since I strongly supported Iridessa to upset the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at 13-1. Perfectly ridden by jockey Wayne Lordan, Iridessa settled in third place early on, out-kicked heavy favorite Sistecharlie when the real running began and ran down the pace-tracking Vasilika under vigorous urging to win by a neck. Lordan showed nerves of steel when he waited for Sistercharlie, kept Vasilika in his sights and timed Iridessa’s rally at precisely the right moment to produce a winning effort.
Mitole completes near-flawless season in the Sprint
It takes guts to employ a complete change of racing tactics on racing’s biggest stage. Top sprinter Mitole usually races on the front end, but when a fast pace unfolded in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. wisely allowed Mitole to drop 3 1/2 lengths behind the leaders. The result? Mitole rallied powerfully in the stretch to win going away in perhaps the strongest performance of the championships.
Uni explodes past rivals in the Mile
A breathtaking turn of foot has long been Uni’s secret weapon, and she put it to good use in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Reserved in 10th place halfway through the race, nearly a dozen lengths off the pace, Uni somehow sprinted the final half-mile in :45.63 to roar past fellow female Got Stormy and lead a 1-2 finish for fillies and mares in the Mile. No horse was more visually impressive during the 2019 Breeders’ Cup.
Four Wheel Drive cruises in the Juvenile Turf Sprint
Triple Crown winner American Pharoah didn’t waste any time in siring his first Breeders’ Cup winner. In the first race of the championships, Four Wheel Drive—one of two American Pharoahs in the field—set the pace and never looked back as the 3-2 favorite. The other American Pharoah progeny, Another Miracle, rallied to finish third, sparking a whole new round of applause for the “horse of a lifetime.”