2018 Breeders’ Cup Wrap-Up

Profile Picture: James Scully

November 8th, 2018

Churchill Downs (c) Coady Photography

The 35th Breeders’ Cup featured two days of notable performances at Churchill Downs. Here is a brief recap of the 14-race program.


Juvenile Turf Sprint

Bulletin broke on top and led all the way posting a convincing win in the inaugural Juvenile Turf Sprint. Now perfect from two starts, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt will get the chance to run longer next year with his pedigree (by City Zip and out of a Woodman mare). Chelsea Cloisters, a Wesley Ward-trained filly, was overlooked at 24-1 but made it four straight runner-up finishes versus stakes rivals. Soldier’s Call, the 5-2 favorite, lost all chance when missing the break from post 2.

Juvenile Turf Fillies

A stirring performance worthy of Breeders’ Cup highlight reels! Newspaperofrecord turned a short advantage into an overwhelming gulf when briefly asked for run leaving the far turn, offering a hair-raising turn of foot to eliminate any suspense, and the unbeaten dynamo cruised to the wire after being taken in hand by Irad Ortiz Jr. over the final sixteenth of a mile. The Chad Brown-trained miss has a chance to become the first turf-based champion two-year-old filly.

Juvenile Fillies

Didn’t envision a clear lead materializing in a speed-laden Juvenile Fillies field but kudos to Jaywalk, who was hustled to challenge for the lead from an outside post and then had everything her own way after Serengeti Empress was pulled back on the first turn. The winner made short work of the competition, drawing off to a 5 1/2-length decision, and received a solid 103 BRIS Speed rating.

Juvenile Turf

Line of Duty didn’t run straight but grinded his way to the front in final strides of the Juvenile Turf, providing the international raiders the first of three wins from the 14-race Breeders’ Cup program. The Godolphin colorbearer had to survive a stewards’ inquiry and objection from runner-up Uncle Benny, who was bumped in deep stretch but didn’t maintain a straight path himself.


After facing little resistance in the September 29 American Pharoah (G1), Game Winner needed to dig deep to reel in a stubborn Knicks Go in the Juvenile. It was far from an ideal trip as the Candy Ride colt broke slowly and traveled wide most of the way, coming under a ride early on the far turn as Joel Rosario asked for headway, and I liked how Game Winner leveled off entering the stretch and determinedly went after the leader. He’s trained by five-time Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Bob Baffert. Signalman dropped back to last from post 14 but rallied well to be a clear third.


Filly & Mare Sprint

After surprising at 18-1 in the Raven Run (G2) for three-year-old fillies, Shamrock Rose wheeled back off a 14-day rest and upset elders with a last-to-first rally in the Filly & Mare Sprint. At the tail of a 14-horse field after a half-mile, the 25-1 First Dude filly flew home to nail a Chalon, who looked like the winner after surging clear by a couple of lengths in upper stretch at 14-1. Anonymity, a confirmed front runner in previous starts, rallied from 10th to be another neck back in third at 31-1, completing a $3,060 trifecta for 50-cents.

Turf Sprint

Huge race from the top two. Stormy Liberal offered a bold run off the far turn to engage pacesetter World of Trouble and eventually wore down that 2-1 favorite in an exciting drive to the wire, prevailing by a head for the second consecutive year in the Turf Sprint. The Peter Miller trainee extended his current win streak to four but Saturday marked his first victory from five attempts outside of California. It was a big gap from second back to third.

Dirt Mile

Tour-de-force effort from City of Light, who sped forward after breaking a half-step slowly from the rail and buried Dirt Mile foes. Now a three-time Grade 1 winner, the four-year-old colt whipped through splits of :22.64, :45.15 and 1:09.03 on a clear lead and stopped the teletimer in 1:33.83, scoring by 2 3/4 lengths under Javier Castellano.

Filly & Mare Turf

Sistercharlie completed a fantastic 2018 campaign with a game neck triumph over 5-2 favorite Wild Illusion, an English invader coming off back-to-back Group 1 triumphs. Winner of the Beverly D (G1), Diana (G1) and Jenny Wiley (G1) this season, the only setback being a head second to her Grade 1-winning stablemate Fourstar Crook, the Chad Brown-trained Sistercharlie rated in midpack with regular rider John Velazquez before launching a wide bid into the stretch. Wild Illusion got the jump on her rival and struck the front in deep stretch, but Sistercharlie’s dramatic late rally would not be denied as she got up in the shadow of the wire.

TwinSpires Sprint

Roy H was more impressive than last year and always looked like the winner, overhauling pacesetter Promises Fulfilled before the completion of the far turn and accelerating into the stretch with a commanding advantage. The six-year-old gelding locked up his second straight Eclipse Award and joined Midnight Lute as only repeat Sprint scorer. Whitmore walked out of the gate but closed well to be 3 1/4 lengths back in second, nearly two lengths clear of 8-5 favorite Imperial Hint, who broke tardily and never threatened.


Expert Eye appeared to be coming on for Sir Michael Stoute in recent starts and the Group 2-winning sophomore colt provided his Barbadian-born British conditioner with his eighth Breeders’ Cup victory when getting up late to score by a half-length. Not sure of the quality of this year’s Mile field, with a half-length separating the next four finishers (Catapult-Analyze It-Divisidero-One Master) but it was fun to watch an exhilarating finish.


Monomoy Girl capped the best three-year-old filly season since Rachel Alexandra in 2007. Her seven-race campaign began in mid-February and Monomoy Girl carried her form to six different tracks (Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Fair Grounds, Keeneland, Parx and Saratoga), finishing first every time (placed second after a controversial disqualification in the Cotillion Stakes [G1]). Regular rider Florent Geroux was up and the Distaff proved to be another front-running success, with the chestnut registering a career-best 109 BRIS Speed rating for the outstanding one-length tally, and the daughter of Tapizar delivered Brad Cox his first Breeders’ Cup race win. Monomoy Girl is expected back at age four and connections mentioned possibly taking on males. January’s Pegasus World Cup (G1) serves as an intriguing option because 1 1/8 miles is a better fit for Monomoy Girl than 10 furlongs.


What a treat! Enable left the starting gate as the 4-5 favorite and faced a serious challenge from Magical, a three-year-old filly who continued to move forward for Coolmore/Aidan O’Brien following a strong win in the Fillies & Mares (Eng-G1) on British Champions Day, but the two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1) winner would not be denied. Enable and jockey Frankie Dettori lost ground every step of the way, rallying about 10-wide off the far turn and charging down the middle of the turf course, and the superstar four-year-old filly forged ahead in deep stretch to win by about a length. A Juddmonte Farms homebred, Enable became the first Arc winner to capture a Breeders’ Cup race in the same season and the English-bred daughter of Nathaniel pushed her earnings past $10 million. Dettori recorded his 14th Breeders’ Cup win and John Gosden notched his fifth.


Difficult to top an undefeated Triple Crown winner but Accelerate made it a legitimate Horse of the Year debate. The five-year-old traveled wide on both turns from post 14 before surging to the lead in upper stretch, utilizing the same move that powered him to become the third horse ever to sweep the three premier Grade 1 races in Southern California for older horses in the same season (Santa Anita Handicap, Gold Cup at Santa Anita and Pacific Classic). Accelerate added wins in the Awesome Again (G1) and San Pasqual (G2) for good measure, competing from February-November as he captured four major events at 1 1/3 miles and snapped a zero-for-45 Breeders’ Cup record for trainer John Sadler. He posted a one-length Classic win as the 5-2 favorite.