Space Blues (IRE), ridden by William Buick, wins the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF. Bill Denver /Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

Breeders’ Cup Roundup: Space Blues Delivers for Godolphin, Appleby in Mile

By Jennie Rees/Special to TVG

DEL MAR, Calif. — Once again, a Godolphin-owned, Charlie Appleby-trained horse was scratched after a gate incident before a Breeders’ Cup turf race. And once again, their other horse went on and prevailed. This time favored Space Blues (IRE) stalked Smooth Like Strait before wearing down the front-runner in the final stages of the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) for a half-length victory on Nov. 6 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Unlike Modern Games, who was withdrawn from wagering after being erroneously scratched but allowed to run for purse money only when he captured Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Space Blues stayed in the mutuel pools, paying $6.20 to win as the favorite in the field of 13. His stablemate Master of The Seas, however, was scratched after a gate incident.

Space Blues gave Godolphin, Appleby and jockey William Buick their second Breeders’ Cup victory on the weekend, with No. 3 coming in the $4 million Longines Turf with Yibir (GB).

“I’m absolutely delighted,” Appleby said. “He’s been a fantastic horse and will now be retired to stud. William gave him a great ride in the perfect position throughout. Space Blues has been a great servant and it’s another well-deserved win. I’m thrilled for team Godolphin both here and back home at Moulton Paddocks in Newmarket and obviously His Highness Sheikh Mohammed. It was an interesting race beforehand with Master of The Seas being scratched but we’re getting used to that now! Rules are rules and we have to abide by them.”

Space Blues (IRE), ridden by William Buick, wins the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF. Tim Sudduth/Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

Space Blues is a 5-year-son of Dubawi (IRE) out of the Noverre mare Miss Lucifer (FR). With his third Grade or Group 1 win, Space Blues increased his record to 19–11-3-1 and added $1,040,000 to his bankroll  to hike his earnings to $2,585,725.

Smooth Like Strait seized the early initiative from Blowout (GB) and maintained a daylight advantage with Space Blues running in third. Leaving the far turn, Buick angled Space Blues off the rail and set his sights on Smooth Like Strait who grudgingly gave way in the run to the wire. Space Blues covered the mile on a firm Jimmy Durante Turf Course in 1:34.01.

“Coming here I knew I had some very good rides,” Buick said. “Space Blues traveled to America very well and Charlie has been delighted with all of our horses coming into the races. We know how tough it is to come here and everything needs to pan out for you to win.  He’s a great little horse and I don’t think he’s had the recognition he deserves.  A mile round here suits him down to the ground. I was a bit nervous going into the race as I wanted to give the horse what he deserved.”

Smooth Like Strait, with Umberto Rispoli aboard, finished a length ahead of Ivar (BRZ), who rallied late under Joe Talamo after starting from the disadvantageous extreme outside post.

“I thought it worked out wonderfully,” said Michael McCarthy, trainer of Smooth Like Straight and who earlier won the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint with Ce Ce. “He found himself in a great spot turning up the backside, 23 (seconds) and change. Slowed it down a little bit the second quarter. The horse came with a run; always does. As far as American turf horses, no one has put together a campaign of his consistency.” 

Said Ivar’s trainer, Paulo Lobo: “Everything went well and he overcame a very bad post. He ran good. A little bit more pace I think would have helped us.”

Raging Bull (FR) finished fourth, a neck in front of the sensational mare Got Stormy, who was attempting to end her illustrious career with her first Breeders’ Cup victory.

“I was concerned because the turf has a little more give to it than she likes,” Mark Casse said of Got Stormy, the only female horse to win Saratoga’s Grade 1 Fourstardave – and she did so twice. “I knew she’d struggle some, but I’m proud of her. She ran hard again. What can you say? She’s done things others never have.” 

Yibir gives Godolphin, Appleby, Buick Third Cup win of weekend in Turf

The parade of Godolphin homebreds — trained by Charlie Appleby and ridding by William Buick — running straight into the Breeders’ Cup winner’s circle continued when Yibir (GB) rallied for a half-length victory over Broome (IRE) in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) for 3-year-olds and up Saturday afternoon at Del Mar.

Yibir covered the 1 ½ miles on a firm Jimmy Durante Turf Course in 2:25.90, establishing a course record.

Godolphin, Appleby and Buick combined to win the Juvenile Turf (G1) on Friday with Modern Games (IRE) and the FanDuel Mile (G1) presented by PDJF with Space Blues (IRE) earlier Saturday afternoon. It is the first victory in the Turf for both trainer and jockey and the sixth Breeders’ Cup triumph overall for Appleby and fifth for Buick. 

“It’s been unbelievable,” Buick said. “An amazing weekend. I’ve been coming to Breeders’ Cup for many years and many times things have not gone my way. I understand how hard it is to have winners here so I appreciate every bit of success. The luck has gone my way this year. I couldn’t pull him up after the line as he finished that strong. He’s a very special horse.”

Godolphin now has won 12 Breeders’ Cup races, not counting those won by the stable’s principal, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed. They missed out on a 13th when leading 3-year-old Essential Quality, made the favorite over his victorious stablemate Knicks Go closed to take third in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Yibir (GB), ridden by William Buick, wins the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Bill Denver /Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

The 3-year-old Yibir, a chestnut gelded son of Dubawi, now has won three straight races for the first time in his young career, winning a Group 2 at York in England, the $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational (G1) in New York and now the Breeders’ Cup. He wasn’t always so consistent, hence being gelded.

“As we saw in this past season, he’s ran some quite indifferent races and running a sensible race at Newmarket and then running away with him,” Appleby said. “… William gave him a great ride. It was a hard ride for William, I could see he was really taking William on. And, William quite rightly said, to still have that finish in him, it just, it’s just shows what sort of an engine he’s got there.”

Appleby brought six horses, winning with three of the four that actually started, with the two others scratched.

“A fantastic weekend. I can take a couple of them home fresh,” he said with a laugh. “But, yeah, look, it’s been a lot of — I don’t know quite how to describe it, really… Two of them scratched, then one went and got reinstated and got back in the race. I felt sorry for the crowd there that, unfortunately, the winning ticket didn’t come up but, look, it wasn’t the horse’s fault. It was great to see him win the way he did.

“And then going into today obviously standing there again to see potentially what was unfolding in front of us took a little bit of stepping back and having to take a breath again. But I just knew the right horse was left in the gate in Space Blues, so he was always going to be the main player. And then that in the last, that was the icing on the cake, really. We felt this horse had a lot of talent, he was galloping really good with all our 3-year-old middle-distance horses and he’s gone and finished it off today.”

Longshots Tribhuvan (FR) and Acclimate set the pace and maintained the advantage until the far turn when the rest of the field closed ranks.

Broome swept past Teona (IRE) at mid-stretch and established a daylight advantage only to be run down in the final 50 yards by Yibir. Teona finished third and Japan (GB) was fourth to complete a European superfecta.

The victory was worth $2,080,000 and increased Yibir’s earnings to $2,895,580 with a record of 12-6-1-2.

F&M Turf: Loves Only You gives Japan first BC win

Japan earned its first Breeders’ Cup victory as Loves Only You (JPN) came flying late for a 1 1/2-mile length victory over My Sister Nat (FR) in the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).

Japanese-based horses had been 0 for 13 in the Breeders’ Cup but brought over a bumper crop this year with seven. Three races later, Japan’s Marche Lorraine (JPN), also trained by Yoshito Yahagi, captured the $2 million Longines Distaff (G1).

Loves Only You (JPN), ridden by Yuga Kuwada, wins the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf on Breeders’ Cup Championship Saturday at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Bill Denver /Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

Loves Only You was bred in Japan by Northern Farm and is by its deceased stallion Deep Impact and out of the Storm Cat mare Loves Only Me. She’s Japanese-owned (DMM Dream Club Co.), trained (Yahagi) and ridden (Yuga Kawada). Lightly raced at age 5, Loves Only You now is 7-2-3 in 15 career starts, her only prior race outside of Japan a victory in Hong Kong’s $3.22 million Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) in April over males. In her last start, the mare finished a close second in the $1.2 million Sapporu Kinen (G2), also against males.

With Japan and Hong Kong’s lucrative purse money, Loves Only You came into the Breeders’ Cup with earnings of $5,453,602 and now has earned $6,493,602 with the $1,040,000 prize money.

The connections for Loves Only You, winner of the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf all made the sign of a heart in the Del Mar winner’s circle. Bill Denver /Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

Japan “had so many horses that ran in the Breeders’ Cup and we never (had a) victory,” said Yahagi, who like Kawada were in their Breeders’ Cup debuts. “That’s why I feel like a challenger coming here and finally we got victory here. It was very tough race. But before the race we thought our horse is No. 1. We believed it.”

Going to Vegas led the field early with minimal pressure from Dogtag and Pocket Square (GB) as Loves Only You tracked closely behind the leaders. 

The race’s complexion changed on the far turn as favored War Like Goddess and jockey Julien Leparoux moved five wide to the lead with Love (IRE) going right with her to her inside. Those two pulled clear in mid-stretch, but My Sister Nat made first run at War Like Goddess only to have Loves Only You split those two late in the stretch and pull away.

Loves Only You covered the 1 3/8 miles on a firm Jimmy Durante Turf Course in 2:13.87. She paid $10.60.

“You know, we made history,” said Takumi Nomoto, DMM Dream Club Co.’s president. “We won the Breeders’ Cup. So this is making all Japanese horse-racing industry (want to come) over. I think winning will open it to Japanese racing (pointing for the)Breeders’ Cup.

Third-place War Like Goddess circled the field from last to take the lead with an eighth-mile to go, only to have Loves Only You regaining the lead and then holding off My Sister Nat, who took second by a neck. Defending champion Audarya (FR) finished fifth.

“She ran a very big race considering the run we had,” said William Buick, Audarya’s rider. “She got boxed in then denied a clear (path) but ran on strong to the line.”

Golden Pal takes Turf Sprint year after winning juvenile version

Trainer Wesley Ward and jockey Irad Ortiz collaborated on their second victory of the 2021 Breeders’ Cup as the 3-year-old Golden Pal led all the way for a 1 1/4-length victory over Lieutenant Dan in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Ward and Ortiz teamed to capture Friday’s $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) for the third year in a row with Twilight Gleaming (IRE).

Golden Pal followed up on last year’s front-running victory in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland, Ward’s hometown track. Ortiz also was aboard that day. Golden Pal now is the fifth horse to win two different Breeders’ Cup races. He joins Zenyatta (Classic and Distaff), Beholder (Juvenile Fillies, Distaff), Stephanie’s Kitten (Juvenile Fillies Turf and Filly & Mare Turf) and Secret Circle (Juvenile Sprint and Sprint).

“I hope everyone in horse racing has a horse like this, as special as he is,” Ward said after winning his sixth Breeders’ Cup race. “He’s just fast. He’s mature and he has so much upstairs, as well. He has so much natural ability. What a horse.” 

Golden Pal, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., wins the Breeders’’ Cup Turf Sprint. Alex Evers/Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

The California-based Lieutenant Dan, ridden by Geovanni Franco, was closest in pursuit throughout but never was close enough to hound Golden Pal, who covered five-eighths of a mile on firm turf in 55:22 seconds. 

“He wasn’t ready to run against a rocket ship,” said Steve Miyadi, Lieutenant Dan’s trainer. “He ran great, probably the best race of his life.”

Golden Pal paid $7 to win as the favorite in the field of 12. The 5-year-old mare Charmaine’s Mia closed from eighth to check in another 3 1/2 lengths back in a four-horse logjam for third. Last year’s Turf Sprint winner, Glass Slippers (GB), finished eighth.

“He’s very quick and very agile as you’ve seen today,” Ward said. “My only concern with the race today was the first jump. I knew if he broke with them that his quickness and his agility would just bounce him out like he did. And not only did he break with them, he broke in front of them. And then Irad, I think he was a little bit surprised the first few strides how he just kind of opened up like he did on such fast horses.”

Said Ortiz: “I was happy to get the lead easily and he responded to me when asked I him for the run down the stretch. I was confident coming for home and he still felt very strong.”

Golden Pal, a Florida-bred son of the owners’ Ashford Stud stallion Uncle Mo, now is 5-2-0 in eight starts, earning $1,299,056 with the $520,000 paycheck. He captured Keeneland’s Grade 2 Woodford in his last start, following a seventh in England’s Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe at York and after starting his year with a victory in Saratoga’s Grade 3 Quick Call.

“Wesley told me two days ago that he really believed that this is the fastest horse he’s had,” said M.V. Magnier, one of Golden Pal’s owners along with his dad, Coolmore head John Magnier, along with Derrick Smith and others.

The younger Magnier said the partners would discuss Golden Pal’s future, but he sounded receptive to keeping him in training with an eye on returning to England for Royal Ascot in June. Ward also suggested that he’d like to get the colt back on dirt at some point to broaden his future stallion appeal.