Godolphin's global sweep reached a new land yesterday, when Breeders' Cup XVIII here witnessed a victory for the Dubai team's Tempera. The boys in blue have been successful at racing's Olympics before – Daylami won the Turf at Gulfstream Park two years ago – but this was a return on a new venture, Sheikh Mohammed's satellite operation in the United States.
Tempera, and several other expensive dirt-bred two-year-olds, are based at Santa Anita in California, where they are trained by Eoin Harty, the son of the Grand National-winning jockey, Eddie. The strategy is to win the top juvenile contests Stateside and then aim for the most prestigious pots in the Classic season. Yesterday, in the Juvenile Fillies, the strategy started working.
Not only did Tempera win in the hands of David Flores, she also led home a forecast for the Maktoums, as the disregarded Imperial Gesture belied her huge odds for Frankie Dettori.
No race, it seems these days, is complete without a match-up between Godolphin and the Ballydoyle team, and Sophisticat was the Irish team's representative here. The filly was as she has been in Europe all year, solid without being spectacular. As Tempera overhauled her stablemate close home, Sophisticat plugged on in behind. "Michael [Kinane] was very pleased with her," Aidan O'Brien, her trainer, said. Well, as pleased as you can be with finishing fifth, anyway.
Tempera's success marked an ominous start to the meeting for Bobby Frankel. The leading American trainer went into the meeting 0 from 36 in Breeders' Cups and that record soon deteriorated as You was fourth in the Juvenile Fillies, following Flute's abject collapse in the opening Distaff contest. After that, Frankel was in no mood to expound on the continuation of his ill run. "I don't want to discuss it right now," he said.
The Distaff glory went to the fast- finishing Unbridled Elaine, under Pat Day. Victory tends to go to Day at the Breeders' Cup. This was his third success in the Distaff, his 12th in all, to extend his lead as the most successful jockey this series has known.
Yet this further evidence that there is no man more reliable on the grandest of stages was impossible to predict even as the field raced through the final turn. Unbridled Elaine was way back in the main body as Spain forged her way across the dirt, apparently on the way to success at a second successive Breeders' Cup. However, Day then switched his roan mount to the outside and there was a ruthless inevitability in the way she cut down the frontrunner.
"Our filly ran an awesome race," Day said. "I had to alter course severely between the three-sixteenths and the eighth pole, but I finally got her outside and in the clear. I put her to the task and she responded beautifully. She got down on her belly and really went after the leader with a vengeance and got up in the final stride."
The positive atmosphere did not last long at Breeders' Cup XVIII. The main card was tainted before it started when Exogenous did not make it down to the gate for the opening Distaff contest. The grey filly spooked going out to the main track and fell backwards with sickening momentum. The landing left her with suspected head and spinal injuries and, while her trainer, Scotty Schulhofer, looked on tearfully, Exogenous was sedated and transported by horse ambulance to the barn area. It looked particularly ugly, right in front of the main stand, but later came the soothing news that Exogenous had managed to get back to her feet.
It was a solemn opening to a meeting which had been invested with much significance round these parts. Breeders' Cup XVIII was the first truly international event to be staged in the New York area since the events of 11 September. The symbolic relevance of the day was marked by the jockeys. Each of the riders ran up the turf track before racing, bearing the pennant of their own land in one hand and the Stars and Stripes in the other.
It was a cloudy and fresh day in the Empire state, with the many flags flying starchly from their poles. Belmont Park – its infield lakes, brain-shaped shrubbery and all – was covered by the litter of the fall.
The star-spangled banner was delivered by a New York police officer, Carl Dixon, while the bagpipers of the NYPD played "Amazing Grace". That seemed most appropriate when Val Royal swept majestically down the outside to win the Mile. However, Godolphin's fortunes went the other way, as Noverre was disappointing here, though Ballydoyle's Bach, in third, outperformed his stable's expectations.Reuse content