Breeders' Cup analysis -- after the races

By ROBERT KIECKHEFER  |  Oct. 30, 2004 at 8:04 PM
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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- There's something for everyone in horse racing and Saturday's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships proved it.

Winners included England's Lord Derby, whose family lent its name to some of the sport's most famous races, and Frank Stronach, a Canadian multimillionaire who owns several of the top U.S. race tracks.

But they also included a small, California-based syndicate that bought its Breeders' Cup winner for $3,200.

The eight Championship race winners at Lone Star Park came from all points of the compass. Two trainers won in their first try at the Breeders' Cup while other winners are veterans at the sport's highest level. Competing against the top jockeys, Ramon Dominguez and Javier Castellano both won on their first try.

And the people of Texas got their first taste of the Breeders' Cup in its 21st running.

One of the day's biggest upsets was Singletary's victory in the $1 million NetJets Mile. Singletary, owned by Little Red Feather Racing in California, was purchased at the Keeneland auction in 2001 for the bargain-basement price of $3,200.

"It used to be it was fun," syndicate manager Bill Koch said of racing. "People could laugh and people could cry and people could cheer and go crazy. That's what it needs to be. That's how people need to get back into the game. All this stuff right here ... guys, we are diving in the fountain!"

"We never set out to make a million," he said. "This right here is not about money. You look around the room and see smiles and cheers and that's what we are about."

At the other end of the spectrum, Edward Richard William Stanley is the 19th earl of derby, a merchant banker and resident of Stanley House Stud. His distant ancestor was among the founders of thoroughbred racing and gave the family name to classic races everywhere for 3-year-old horses.

This year, Lord Derby has only one horse in training -- Ouija Board, who rallied smartly off a slow pace to win the $1 million Filly & Mare Turf as the heavy favorite.

From start to finish, it was a day of such contrasts.

Favorites or near-favorites won the $2 million Distaff (Ashado), the $1 million Juvenile Fillies (Sweet Catomine), the $1 million Sprint (Speightstown), the $1 million Filly & Mare Turf (Ouija Board) and the $4 million Classic (Ghostzapper). But longshots took the other half of the card: Singletary ($35) in the Mile, Wilko ($58.60) in the Juvenile and Better Talk Now ($57.80) in the Turf.

The European contingent, seemingly a bit reluctant to travel to an unfamiliar site in Texas, had a big day with a smaller-than-usual complement. Wilko won the Juvenile after making all 10 earlier starts in England on the turf. Ouija Board proved she is the world's top female grass runner. Europeans Antonius Pius and Six Perfections ran 2-3 in the Mile. And Powerscourt, whose last race was in Ireland, finished third in the Turf.

Among the jockeys, John Velazquez won two races and just missed a third on Kitten's Joy in the Turf. But such other big names as Pat Day and Jerry Bailey were shut out while Dominguez scored his first Breeders' Cup win on Better Talk Now in the Turf and Castellano in the Classic. And for each of them, there was a wrinkle.

Castellano's only prior Breeders' Cup mount was Exogenous in the 2001 Distaff. She flipped coming out onto the track, became entangled in a fence and was scratched. She later died. "I was very disappointed the last time and the bad luck that day," said Castellano. "I was very depressed. Today, I felt so emotional."

Dominquez hadn't lost a Breeders' Cup mount. But he almost lost this victory. "It felt like an hour before they made it official," Dominguez said of his win in the Turf, delayed by an inquiry into his ride down the stretch.

Lone Star Park had a successful day, with 53,717 people in attendance -- more than 20,000 more than the previous record attendance. Breeders' Cup officials said Lone Star will be considered for future runnings of the sport's Championship Day, although bigger tracks seem to have an easier time of organizing the event.

The top three in each Championship race, in running order:

-- $2 million Distaff: Ashado ($6, $3.60, $2.80), Storm Flag Flying ($7, $4), Stellar Jayne ($4.80)

-- $1 million Juvenile Fillies: Sweet Catomine ($6.60, $4, $3), Balletto ($4.80, $3.40), Runway Model ($5)

-- $1.5 million Mile (turf): Singletary ($35, $15.60, $9.80), Antonius Pius ($37.60, $13.60), Six Perfections ($5)

-- $1 million Sprint: Speightstown ($9.40, $5.20, $4), Kela ($5, $4), My Cousin Matt ($15)

-- $1 million Filly & Mare Turf: Ouija Board ($3.80, $3, $2.80), Film Maker ($9, $6.60), Wonder Again ($6.60)

-- $1.5 million Juvenile: Wilko ($58.60, $18.20, $6.80), Afleet Alex ($5, $3.60), Sun King ($5.60)

-- $2 million Turf: Better Talk Now ($57.80, $12.40, $5.20), Kitten's Joy ($2.80, $2.20), Powerscourt ($3)

-- $4 million Classic: Ghostzapper ($7, $4, $2.60), Roses In May ($8.20, $5.20), Pleasantly Perfect ($3).

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