New York connections shine on Breeders' Cup Saturday
by Keith McCalmont
Jockey Joel Rosario guided Accelerate to victory in the $6 million Classic to lead the way as New York-based stars factored in five of the day's nine events on Breeders' Cup Saturday from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Accelerate, who went off as the 5-2 mutuel favorite, sat in sixth position off a rapid pace set by Mendelssohn and gradually assumed command at the top of the lane, persevering to the finish to earn the length victory over a rallying Gunnevera, piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Trained by John Sadler for Hronis Racing, Accelerate covered the 1 ¼ miles in 2:02.93 over a fast main track.
"That was about as good as it gets. That horse is simply unbelievable. I'm so happy for the owners and John. It was a great performance. He has so much heart," said Rosario who was picking up his first Classic win.
In victory, the veteran Rosario increased his Breeders' Cup tally to nine.
Ortiz, Jr. (35 points) edged Rosario (32 points) and Hall of Famer Javier Castellano (30 points) to win the Bill Shoemaker Award, given to the most outstanding jockey of the Breeders' Cup. The Shoemaker Award is based on a 10-4-2-1 scoring system on first- through fourth-place finishes in each of the 14 Breeders' Cup World Championship races.
Trainer Mark Casse, who maintains a sizable New York-based string, and Ortiz, Jr combined for the biggest upset of the day when Shamrock Rose arrived in the shadow of the wire to capture the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in the first of nine Breeders' Cup events on the card.
Dismissed at 25-1, Shamrock Rose settled last of 14 in the seven-furlong sprint over a fast Churchill main and closed furiously in the final furlong to collar Chalon, piloted by Castellano, for a head score in a final running time of 1:23.13.
It was the fifth Breeders' Cup win for Ortiz, Jr., who captured the Juvenile Fillies Turf on Friday with Newspaperofrecord. For Casse, it was also his fifth career Breeders' Cup score.
"Was I surprised we won? It was a tough race, but she's a good horse. I told (jockey) Irad (Ortiz Jr.) I don't know if she's good enough, but she'll give you everything she has. And, she's good. It goes back to Allen Jerkens who always said, 'run them when they're good' so we came back in two weeks," said Casse.
Ortiz, Jr. was pleased with the trip he worked out for the 3-year-old First Dude bay owned by Conrad Farms.
"I let her be happy. She settled nice for me. She was like fourth and when I dropped in and got through horses, she came running," said Ortiz, Jr.
Castellano, who recently picked up his 5,000th career win in North America, guided City of Light to a dominating score in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. A multiple Grade 1 winner, City of Light was hustled to the front by Castellano and never looked back en route to a 2 ¾-length score in 1:33.83.
"I had a good trip. I let him break out of the gate a little bit with speed. He set the pace, and it worked out great for me today," said Castellano. "I didn't want to bury myself on the inside. It gave me the opportunity to get the best part. He's a very special horse the way he did it today."
Owner William Warren noted after the race that the talented colt, who will stand stud at Lane's End in 2019, is likely to make his next start on December 1 in the Grade 1 $750,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.
"He will race until the middle of February. I think our next race is in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. That's what we're aiming for next," said Warren.
Peter Brant's Sistercharlie rallied strong down the lane to capture the $2 million Maker's Mark Filly and Mare Turf for trainer Chad Brown and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
The Brown trained A Raving Beauty led the field through much of the 1 3/8-mile stamina test with Sistercharlie, whose Grade 1 wins came in the Jenny Wiley, Diana and Beverly D., settled some five lengths off the pace. The favored Wild Illusion overtook A Raving Beauty down the lane but could not hold off a storming Sistercharlie, who notched a neck win.
"She's all class this horse and she knows where the wire is. She showed her heart there in the last stages," said Brown who was winning his 12th Breeders' Cup, and fourth Filly and Mare Turf, just a day after his Future Stars Friday score with Newspaperofrecord.
Velazquez was matter of fact following his 16th career Breeders' Cup win.
"We broke well and got a good position," said Velazquez. "They kind of bunched up in there to get to the first turn and then everyone started to crowd up because the pace wasn't very fast. I liked where I was. She relaxed well where I was and was moving well past the wire the first time. From there I just bided my time with her. I followed [Wild Illusion] and she won."
Brant, who recently returned to ownership, was a staple in the New York racing scene for decades, campaigning such stars as Breeders' Cup Sprint champ Gulch and 1979 Eclipse Award winner Waya. His return to prominence was inspired by American Pharoah's Triple Crown run in 2015.
"I used to go to the racetrack at Aqueduct and watch all of the great horses like Kelso and Carry Back run. But I guess it was that that got me in and I think the second time around was probably American Pharoah. I went out for the Triple Crown," said Brant. "I just had a feeling he was going to win that day at Belmont and I went out with my son Chris and we saw a lot of people that we knew, and I just felt like, wow, this horse, after so many years won the Triple Crown and that kind of inspired me to get back in."
Monomoy Girl, co-owned by Michael Dubb, was prominent throughout in the $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff before surging to the lead with powerful strides down the lane to secure a length victory under jockey Florent Geroux. Wow Cat, with Jose Ortiz up for Brown, rallied from last to complete the exacta.
Trained by Brad Cox, Monomoy Girl has now won 9 of 11 career starts including Grade 1 wins in New York this year in the Acorn at Belmont and the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga.
Dubb, who sits on the New York Racing Association's board of directors, has been the year-end leading owner six out of the last eight years on the NYRA circuit.
"I don't think it struck me how good she was until the Coaching Club this summer and the way she just went around there. Then I realized maybe this is one for the ages, not just a champion, but one for the ages," said Dubb.
Additional winners on the lucrative Breeders' Cup card included Stormy Liberal (Turf Sprint), Roy H (Sprint), Expert Eye (Mile) and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe champion Enable (Turf).
Live racing resumes on Sunday at The Big A with a nine-race card featuring the $100,000 Awad and the $200,000 Grade 3 Nashua. First post is 12:20 p.m.