Mendelssohn strikes for Europeans at Breeders' Cup to set up Coolmore dreams of Kentucky

By Geoffrey Riddle@Louchepunter
Fri 3 Nov 2017

Watch full replays of the Breeders' Cup races at Del Mar on Friday and full reaction from Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore after the pair won the Juvenile Turf with Mendlessohn. Read Geoffrey Riddles's report below.

Aidan O’Brien’s relentless charge towards Group One honours continued in America on Friday night when Mendelssohn struck in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar.

Mendelssohn, ridden by Ryan Moore, went one better than his second in the Dewhurst Stakes by powering away from American pair Untamed Domain and Voting Control.

Gordon Elliott’s Beckford was the best of the five remaining European runners and finished fifth for Joel Rosario behind Catholic Boy.

It was the eighth time that the European contingent had won the $US 1million event, and it was a fourth success for O’Brien and Moore after Hit It A Bomb (2015), George Vancouver (2012) and Wrote (2011).

“He is a beautiful horse,” Moore said. “I really liked him in his maiden but he has been backward mentally. When he ran in the Group Two he knocked himself in the stalls.

“He is a little bit slow mentally to grasp what is required. He was always travelling like the best horse. When he got his head in front he was not quite sure what to do. He is still learning, and he has a lot of talent.

“We got a good drawn, he got away well and the race went smoothly. It went smoothly because he went so smoothly and he has the talent to do that.”

As soon as the gates opened Moore rousted Mendelssohn along from stall one and got his mount in a good position on the rail. Moore then bided his time on the inside rail as Sands Of Mali and Flavien Prat came out of gate three and gave him a good tow by taking the lead from Flameaway and Julien Leparoux.

Mendelssohn settled in to the bridle beautifully and coming in to the short straight Moore switched off the rail around the tiring Sands Of Mali and galloped on to become O’Brien’s 27th top-level winner of 2017.

Aidan O'Brien - Breeders' Cup - Racingfotos Mendelssohn was Aidan O'Brien's 12th Breders' Cup winner. (Racingfotos)

Mendelssohn is by American dirt sire Scat Daddy, and is a half brother to Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Beholder. His first preference was for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on dirt, but was switched for U S Navy Flag, who runs in the race on Saturday.

“He has progressed with every run and his level of progression was so good that we were afraid to change him off,” the trainer said of why Mendelssohn ran on turf.

He later added: "We had it in our head that maybe we could train him for the Kentucky Derby, especially now we have the trials at home."

BetVictor went 20-1 about Mendelssohn for the Kentucky Derby on May 5. Betfair went 14-1 from 20-1 about the Qipco 2000 Guineas.

Moore’s ride made up for his howler earlier in the day when he was sat behind a wall of horses aboard Happily, who endured a difficult start in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf won by Rushing Fall.

Happily met interference as she emerged from stall two and stablemate September harmed her chances when she completely missed the break.

As a result Seamie Heffernan had no other option on September but to take his medicine and drop in at the rear.

Rushing Fall, ridden by Javier Castellano, headed into the race unbeaten for Chad Brown and shot clear in the straight, chased by Best Performance.

September was really getting rolling down the middle of the track but unfortunately for her the line came too soon and she had to settle for third, while Brown also saddled the fourth in Significant Form.

Happily never recovered her position after the early interference and finished well beaten.

Castellano said: “We had a little bit of a rough trip going into the first turn, but I was lucky to be able to save some ground in the first turn and then get to the outside. I had a perfect trip after that.

Rushing Fall - Breeders' Cup - Racingfotos Rushing Fall was Chad Brown's third winner of the Juvenile Fillies' Turf in the last four years (Racingfotos)

"She's a very professional filly. I love the way she does things. She’s a very special filly. She’s three-for-three and has won on soft turf and firm turf.”

Brown, winning the race for a fourth time, said: "Both fillies ran very well. The other filly ran terrific. She was too close to the early pace and made the first move and fortunately it took its toll on her the last sixteenth.

(On Rushing Fall) Javier (Castellano) rode a great race. The key was going out of that post and getting a spot in the first half of the field which he accomplished. From there, with a nice pace in front of us, he was comfortable where he was and he moved when he felt the time was right. She has a devastating move when you turn her loose.”

Heffernan said: "She ran very well but I think I was a bit unlucky."

O'Brien said: "Seamus' filly ran well but Ryan (Moore) just looked after Happily as very early in the race her chance had gone. Seamie hit trouble on September, it was a very rough race, I think Happily will stay and could be an Oaks filly next year."

Moore added about Happily's run: “She took too long to find a gear and by then it was too late and there was some horses in front of her.”

Frankie Dettori said of the unplaced Juliet Capulet: "I got a very good break and was in the right spot but she's a sprinter and didn't get home."

Battle Of Midway showed tremendous guts to come out on top in an thrilling duel with Sharp Azteca in the final two furlongs to win the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

Sharp Azteca was always on the front end under Paco Lopez and had the rail to help him in the home stretch.

Flavien Prat must have thought he was going to go cruising on by on Battle Of Midway as he joined the leader but Sharp Azteca proved a tough nut to crack.

Third in the Kentucky Derby back in May, Battle Of Midway was always going to stay the mile well and he proved mature enough to beat his elders at 14-1.

Prat said: "We put a lot of work into it and I'm a lucky man to be riding at the Breeders' Cup.

"I must thank all the connections, he was training so well before the race.

"He had a hard race in the Derby and he wasn't the same horse after that. When we put the blinkers on he was training so much better.

Winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said: "It's horses for courses, he likes Del Mar and the blinkers helped him focus a little bit.

"We were confident he would run well coming into the race.

"He's very talented so we're pleased he's at where he's at right now."

The feature race on the opening day of the meeting went to John Velazquez as Forever Unbridled won the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Third in the race last year, she made no mistake this time around.

Velazquez was a late jockey change, replacing Joel Rosario.

"She's really easy, she broke well and I got her back. I knew it was short stretch so I didn't want to be too far back but I got to the front too soon," said Velezquez.

Trainer Dallas Stewart said: "She's such a great filly, she's three from three this year and since we've spaced her races she's been very successful."

Bob Baffert's Abel Tasman was second.

Battle Of Midway showed tremendous guts to come out on top in an thrilling duel with Sharp Azteca in the final two furlongs to win the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

In front of 32,278 owner Chuck Fipke underlined that he would like to run the winner in the Pegasus World Cup in January ahead of a possible tilt at the Dubai World Cup.

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