Los Angeles (AFP) – Enable cemented her superstar status with an unprecedented Turf triumph and Accelerate gave trainer John Sadler a first Breeders’ Cup winner in the Classic as the $30 million racing extravaganza returned to Churchill Downs.
Enable, the four-year-old filly trained by John Gosden, became the first horse to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the 1 1/2-mile Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same year, succeeding in completing the double where eight before her had failed.
Frankie Dettori was masterful in guiding Enable to victory in the $4 million race, finding good ground out wide on the rain-softened turf track and prevailing in a thrilling stretch duel with Magical.
“She conquered America!” Dettori crowed after Enable triumphed by three-quarters of a length, becoming just the fourth filly to win the race.
Ryan Moore, riding the Aidan O’Brien-trained Magical, pushed hard in the stretch, Enable finally taking control in the final furlong.
The two jockeys briefly clasped hands as they galloped out — Sadler’s Joy a distant third nine lengths back.
“It was a wonderful, wonderful stretch run between two great fillies and two great jockeys,” Gosden said.
“I thought coming into the straight, when Ryan came up on her, we had a race on our hands. She showed enormous courage to win.”
Enable’s unprecedented double was all the more remarkable given her difficult season. Sidelined by injury until September, she raced just once before seizing a second straight Arc win.
In between, Gosden said, she battled a fever.
“It was a big ask for our filly, and she greatly deserved it,” Gosden said. “She’s had a difficult year and really it’s amazing she’s here today.”
Enable was one of three European raiders to come away with victories at Churchill Downs as the Louisville, Kentucky, track hosted the Breeders’ Cup for the first time since 2011.
– ‘Feels really good’ –
Charlie Appleby saddled Juvenile Turf winner Line of Duty on Friday, and Dettori rode Michael Stoute’s Expert Eye to victory in the Mile on the turf track on Saturday.
But the $6 million Classic went to California-based Accelerate — giving Sadler a first Breeders’ Cup winner in his 45th attempt.
“Feels really good,” said Sadler, who admitted the constant questions about his Breeders’ Cup record had become “a point of irritation”.
Having seen his Catapult narrowly denied by Expert Eye in the Mile, Sadler could finally celebrate.
“I’m thrilled, no doubt,” Sadler said. “I mean, this is what I do every day, every year for my whole career, so to really get the big one, I couldn’t ask for a better day.”
With Joel Rosario in the irons, Accelerate took the lead entering the final straight, emerging from the middle of a 14-horse field that was led by O’Brien’s Mendelssohn through the first quarter and around the final turn.
Mendelssohn, finally, couldn’t hold off 5-2 favorite Accelerate, who surged home to win by a length from 28-1 shot Gunnevera.
Godolphin’s Thunder Snow, the Dubai World Cup winner, challenged late but finished third, 1 3/4 lengths back.
In other races Saturday, Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl capped her outstanding three-year-old season with a victory in the Distaff, Shamrock Rose won the Filly & Mare Sprint and City of Light captured the Dirt Mile.
Trainer Peter Miller saw his two 2017 sprint winners repeat: Stormy Liberal in the Turf Sprint and Roy H in the Sprint.
It was a spectacular end to a season that began in the shadow of the devastating wildfire that swept through the San Luis Rey Downs training facility in southern California last December, killing 46 horses, including five trained by Miller.