Ranking the top 5 Breeders’ Cup trainers for 2020
The Breeders’ Cup World Championships was held Nov. 6-7, elevating the elite status of 14 winning horses and their connections. Here, we highlight five trainers who performed well in the two-day, all-star event and present the impact in a countdown like presentation. What trainer stood out as most impressive in their pupil's performances to you?
5— Ron Moquett
In his fifth start in the Breeders’ Cup overall and his fourth with 7-year-old gelding Whitmore, Ron Moquett scored his first victory in the championship series at 18-1 odds in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1). The race marked Whitmore’s 11th stakes win, seventh graded stakes win, second Grade 1, and pushed his lifetime earnings to more than $4.2 million.
Moquett purchased the son of 2003 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Pleasantly Perfect from his breeder for $35,000. The horse’s natural athletic ability reminded him of a friend from high school, Wilbur Whitmore, so Moquett talked to him for the first time in 10-12 years and asked if he could name the horse after him. He is now owned in partnership by Moquett, Robert LaPenta, and Head of Plains Partners.
From the time Moquett was 15, he would take a bus to a track and volunteer to work for free.
“I have slept in tack rooms. I have ridden in the back of the trailers to the racetracks and volunteered to work just so I could go to the races. So to be someplace like Saratoga or Keeneland or Oaklawn or Churchill, it's huge to me. It's something I definitely do not take for granted,” Moquett said.
Trainer Kevin Ryan also gained his first win on the championship stage with 10-1 longshot Glass Slippers, and he earned the distinction of being the first European-based trainer to win the Turf Sprint (G1). A proven traveler, the English-bred filly experienced success in France and in Ireland, where she punched her ticket to the Turf Sprint by winning the Flying Five (G1), a Breeders' Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race.
Beginning as a steeplechase jockey, Ryan became a trainer in 1998. He saddled The Grey Gatsby to win the Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) (G1) in 2014.
Another member of the European contingent, Aidan O’Brien, netted the largest Breeders’ Cup score with Order of Australia, the 73-1 longshot who paid $148.40 to win on a $2 bet. This set a Breeders' Cup record for highest winning payout in the Mile (G1) and is the second-highest payout in the Breeders' Cup overall. The highest remains $269.20 for Arcangues in the 1993 Breeders' Cup Classic, who went off at odds of 133-1.
Order of Australia drew into the race off the also-eligible list with the scratch of One Master. Jockey Pierre Charles Boudot was riding in place of Christophe Soumillon, who tested positive for COVID-19.
O’Brien also conditions the Mile’s second- and third-place finishers and the second-place finishers of the Juvenile Turf (G1), Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and Turf (G1).
The Mile marked his 13th Breeders' Cup win. He’s won a record eight Epsom Derbies (G1) and won Group/Grade 1 races across the globe, including in Australia, Canada, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
With four trips to the winner’s circle, Louisville native Brad Cox accumulated the most victories in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup and more than doubled his three previous wins in the championship series. He sent out winners Aunt Pearl in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Essential Quality in the Juvenile (G1), Knicks Go in the Dirt Mile (G1) and Monomoy Girl in the Distaff (G1).
Knicks Go set a track record in a front-running, 3 1/2 lead victory, and 2018 champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl won her second Distaff, bringing her record to 13 firsts and two seconds from 15 starts.
Born and raised two blocks away from Churchill Downs, Brad Cox earned the most in purses at Churchill’s September meet with more than $2 million. This bankroll was bolstered by his second Kentucky Oaks (G1) win, which came with 15-1 longshot Shedaresthedevil, a race Monomoy Girl won in 2018. The 40-year-old also trained champion and fan-favorite Covfefe. He has collected training titles at Ellis Park, Fair Grounds, Churchill Downs and Keeneland.
In the marquee event of the series, the Classic, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert cashed the exacta with the one-two finish of Authentic, the winner of the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1), and Improbable. Gamine, his standout 3-year-old filly, set both a track record and notched the historically fastest time in the Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
Baffert now has 17 Breeders’ Cup wins, making him the second-winningest trainer in the championship series, closing in on D. Wayne Lukas’ 20. He is the second trainer in Thoroughbred history to win two Triple Crowns, titles he captured with American Pharoah and Justify.