Pletcher, McLaughlin Breeders’ Cup runners doing well after championship event
Edited Press Release
Trainer Todd Pletcher reported Sunday that his 11 Breeders’ Cup starters all exited their races in good order while expressing pleasure with the overall performance of his Breeders’ Cup contingent.
Pletcher saddled Liam’s Map for a dazzling 2 1/2-length victory in the face of adversity in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) and sent out Stopchargingmaria for a hard-fought triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) two races later.
His other top performers were Rachel’s Valentina (second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies [G1]), Mshawish (fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile [G1]) and Curalina (third in the Distaff).
“All in all, it went pretty well. It was a safe Breeders’ Cup. I think Keeneland did a great job,” Pletcher said.
“We were pleased with our team’s performances. We had two wins and a good second with Rachel’s Valentina. With Mshawish finishing fourth and Curalina finishing third – we had some good performances.
“These races are tough to win and if you can come out of them with a win – in our case, two – it’s pretty exciting.”
Making his final career start before standing at stud next year at Lanes End Farm, Liam’s Map overcame extended traffic around the first turn and along the backstretch before springing free and surging to an impressive victory.
“It was a remarkable performance. He’s a very, very talented, brilliant horse. We were blessed to have the opportunity to train him and we’re proud of what he did,” Pletcher said. “He stamped himself, arguably, as the top older horse in training. Closing out with two big wins, it’s pretty exciting.”
In the Distaff, Stopchargingmaria prevailed by a neck over Stellar Wind, who finished 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Curalina.
“It was a great performance. It was her third Grade 1 win that she’s amassed,” Pletcher said. “She was in a long drive in a big duel down the lane and she kept finding more.”
All four of trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s Breeders’ Cup horses came out of their races in good order, the horseman said Sunday morning.
Godolphin Racing’s homebred sophomore Frosted, who finished seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), is headed to Florida and is expected to remain in training next year.
McLaughlin loved the way Frosted was coming up to the race and expected another strong performance. He missed fourth by two noses and a head.
“We were disappointed, obviously,” McLaughlin said. “He trained great. We thought that we could lay second to fourth and maybe American Pharoah would back up, but American Pharoah, congratulations, ran the best race of his life, to me.
“Speed was maybe the place to be, as I feared it was. We didn’t get beat bad for fourth. It’s not the end of the world. We’ll regroup; he’s a three-year-old. The winner was very impressive.”
Sentiero Italia finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
“She ran great,” McLaughlin said. “She just missed third running back in three weeks. She’s a three-year-old who we will have back next year to have a lot of fun with.”
Cavorting entered the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) with a three-race winning streak in New York, but landed in the outside post in the field of 14 and ran fourth. McLaughlin said the combination of the draw and a poor start compromised her chances.
“She didn’t break real well and ends up last, but finished very well again going wide” McLaughlin said. “With the speed (bias) of the track you needed to be up close. She finished fourth, finished well, but it was disappointing.”
Everything went wrong for Distaff favorite Wedding Toast in her final career start. She ended up 11th in the field of 14 under jockey Jose Lezcano.
“I told him to get into a good rhythm,” McLaughlin said. “I told him, ‘whether you break on the lead or are laying fourth, get into a good rhythm. You’re the best.’
“It was just the opposite. She hopped at the start and ends up wide. A horse comes outside of her and she gets keen. She owes us nothing. She’s a multiple Grade 1 winner heading home to be retired.”
Liam’s Map photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography