Nov. 2 (UPI) -- The first day of the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita on Friday was full of surprises, none bigger than the result of the day's feature.
The entire complexion of the $2 million TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile changed as the gate opened and the odds-on favorite, Dennis's Moment, stumbled badly, a mishap that opened the doors to an all-long shot finish in a race that normally crowns an early favorite for the following spring's Kentucky Derby.
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. was lucky to stay aboard Dennis' Moment and the colt never got into the mix, finishing last of eight.
Instead, it was Storm the Court, at odds of 45-1, who took the lead and held it, finally fending off a late bid by 25-1 chance Anneau d'Or to win by a neck with Wrecking Crew, off at 35-1, completing a 50-cent trifecta payout of $1,965.25.
Storm the Court, a Court Vision colt trained by Peter Eurton, finished the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.93 under Flavien Prat.
When Dennis' Moment stumbled, Eurton said, "that enabled us to go to the lead. On the backside, they didn't take us seriously." In the final sixteenth, he added, "I knew he would fight. I just didn't know how much."
It may, however, take more than Friday's victory to boost him into the top ranks of the 2020 Derby contenders although British bookmakers immediately lowered his odds dramatically for the Run for the Roses.
"Get out of here," Eurton said when informed of the odds dropping. "Really?"
The colt won his first start at Del Mar Aug. 10, going 5 1/2 furlongs. Ironically, he then was involved in a bumping incident in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity that saw him lose Prat shortly after the start. He returned to finish third in the Grade I American Pharoah over the Santa Anita surface, 8 1/4 lengths in arrears of Eight Rings, who finished sixth in Friday's race.
The outcome of the Juvenile was a bitter disappointment for trainer Dale Romans, a Louisville native who has coveted a Kentucky Derby victory all of his life. After Dennis' Moment won his first two races impressively, Romans has been outspoken in his belief he finally found the right horse.
The rest of the five Breeders' Cup races on the Friday card held drama of their own.
British Idiom unleashed a sustained drive through the stretch run of the $2 million Juvenile Fillies, engaged with Donna Veloce through most of the final furlong and held on to win by a neck over that rival. Bast was third as British Idiom, a daughter of Flashback, finished 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:47.07. Javier Castellano rode for trainer Brad Cox.
British Idiom, winner of the Grade I Alcibiades at Keeneland in her previous start, raced well off the early pace, came around three rivals on the turn and was all out for the victory. By virtue of the win, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Flashback immediately assumed favorite status for next year's Kentucky Oaks.
Cox said he was a bit surprised at the stretch run of the Juvenile Fillies. "When we finally got by her (Donna Veloce), I thought we'd put her away and we didn't," he said. "But she (British Idiom) battled back. It gives you confidence for the future."
"We'll talk it over," Cox said about plans for British Idiom's path to the Oaks. "Obviously, Fair Grounds has produced a lot of Kentucky Oaks winners in recent years but she'll get a chance to relax a little bit now."
Bast's trainer, Bob Baffert, said his filly went too fast in an early pace duel, then had nothing left when the race slowed down in the final furlongs. "The quality is there," he said. Bast was the only runner from the early leaders to hit the board.
Four Wheel Drive got things off in the right gear in the day's first Breeders' Cup race, leading most of the way to a 3/4-lengths victory in the $1 million Grade II Juvenile Turf Sprint. The American Pharoah colt, with Irad Ortiz Jr. riding for trainer Wesley Ward, was well in front around the turn, then rejected a bid by Chimney Rock, who held on for second. The favorite, Kimari, was third. as none of the well-regarded European youngster was able to land a blow. Frankie Dettori finished 10th on A'Ali and Ryan Moore guided King Neptune home next-last in the field of 12.
The 5 furlongs over firm turf went in 55.66 seconds.
Four Wheel Drive won at first asking at Colonial Downs in August, then backed that with a victory in the Grade III Futurity at Belmont Park Oct. 6. Ward said Four Wheel Drive "has done a lot in a short period of time. He'll get a little bit of a break now. Being a turf sprinter, there's not a lot until springtime anyhow."
In the $1 million Juvenile Turf, presented by Coolmore America, Structor had to come off the rail from far back in the field to find running room in the stretch but made the most of it, finishing fastest for a 3/4-length victory over 50-1 chance Billy Batts. Gear Jockey was third at odds of 60-1, completing a 50-cent trifecta payout of $2,991.75. The favorite, Irish invader Arizona, was off slowly from the No. 12 gate and could only rally in the closing stages to finish fifth with Moore aboard.
The race was roughly run with some interference entering the stretch, resulting in an inquiry and disqualification that did not involve any of the first five finishers.
Structor, a Palace Malice colt trained by Chad Brown, ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:35.11 with Jose Ortiz riding. The bay colt remained undefeated after three starts, also having won the Grade III Pilgrim at Belmont Park in his previous start.
Although all his races have been on the turf, Brown and part-owner Jeff Drown said it's not impossible Structor could find himself on the Kentucky Derby trail next spring. "I can't wait to see Chad try him on the dirt, Drown said. "If he takes to the dirt, we'll try to make some noise in the spring."
Brown acknowledged the plans to try dirt but added, "If he wins the Belmont Derby (on the grass) next year, we'll be real happy."
Sharing was along in the final furlong to take the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf, defeating Daahyeh by 1 1/4 lengths. Sweet Melania was third and Albigna fourth. The second- and fourth-place finishes were the high points of the day for a European squad that hoped for much more.
Sharing, a Speightstown filly trained by Graham Motion, saved ground behind the leaders down the backstretch, came out for running room and outfinished Daahyeh for the win. Sweet Melania had the advantage at mid-stretch but could not sustain her run.
Sharing ran 1 mile on firm going in 1:34.59 with Manny Franco winning his first Breeders' Cup race. After finishing third, beaten just a neck, in her career debut, she has reeled off three straight wins, coming to the Breeders' Cup off a victory in the Selima Stakes at Laurel Park in Maryland.
Although Sharing now has won on both turf and dirt, and both sprinting and running as far as 1 1/16 miles, Motion said her future is clear. "She's a two-turn turf filly," he said. "She'll get some time off now." Her dam, Shared Account, also trained by Motion, won the 2010 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.