Forever Unbridled wins Longines Distaff, Mendelssohn secures Juvenile Turf at Breeders’ Cup
Forever Unbridled captured the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff on Friday to cap a thrilling first day of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar Racetrack in San Diego, California, USA.
Ridden by John Velasquez, the Dallas Stewart-trained Forever Unbridled held off a late charge by Abel Tasman down the back stretch to win by half a length.
The race, run over a distance of a mile and one furlong, was for fillies and mares of three year and older, and Forever Unbridled just had enough in the tank to deny a brave effort from Abel Tasman, with Paradise Woods taking third trailing three lengths back.
Earlier, Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien secured his 27th top-level winner of 2017 when Mendelssohn won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
In what was an impressive performance by the winner in the race run over a mile, jockey Ryan Moore powered Mendelssohn past front runner Sands of Mali after turning into the home straight.
However the pair still had plenty to do but they successfully held off late surges from US hope Untamed Domain in second and Voting Control in third.
Beckford, representing top jumps trainer Gordon Elliott, ran a fine race in fifth, but there was no Breeders’ Cup fairytale for George Scott or Richard Spencer, whose runners James Garfield and Rajasinghe finished down the field.
O’Brien has now won 12 races at the Breeders’ Cup meeting since landing his first when Johannesburg won the Juvenile race in 2001.
The victory also extends the world record O’Brien set for Group One winners in a Flat racing season, after he surpassed Bobby Frankel’s mark of 25 – set in 2003 – when Saxon Warrior won the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last Saturday.
O’Brien did however suffer some disappointment in the Juvenile Fillies Turf race as saddled September to a third-place finish behind winner Rushing Fall.
On this occasion it was trainer Chad Brown who took the plaudit along with jockey Javier Castellano as Rushing Fall came in three-quarters of a length in front of Best Performance in second. September missed the break and was forced to play catch up in what O’Brien labelled a “very rough” race to take third in the field of runners.
The opening race of the Breeders’ Cup saw Destin comfortably claim the Marathon Stakes.
Run over a distance of a mile and six furlongs, jockey John R Velazquez guided the winner to success for trainer Todd Pletcher by a length and a quarter from Infobedad in second and Hard Aces in third.
The Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile saw the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Battle Of Midway earn a useful victory.
With jockey Flavien Prat at the reins, the winner came in half a length clear of Sharp Azteca in second and Awesome Slew in third albeit over four lengths back.
The Breeders’ Cup action continues on Saturday and Aiden O’Brien will be hoping for success across the card at Del Mar. He trains a total of 10 horses which are set to feature including War Decree and Churchill in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.