(edited press releases)
Hong Kong's Good Ba Ba won his fourth group I race in a row for trainer Andreas Schutz when he captured the Champions Mile in stunning style for jockey Olivier Doleuze at Sha Tin Racecourse April 27.
John Yuen’s 6-year-old gelding Good Ba Ba solidified his reputation as the top miler in the Far East and becomes the first horse to qualify for the 2008 Breeders’ Cup World Championships through the “Win and You’re In” Challenge series.
Good Ba Ba earned an automatic starting position into the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), which will be run during the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.
The "Breeders’ Cup Challenge" is a series of 53 races, held in the U.S., Canada, Asia, and Europe, whose winners earn automatic starting positions into a corresponding Breeders’ Cup World Championships race. The series debuted in 2007 with 24 races in the U.S. and the Champions Mile in Hong Kong.
Schutz was reserved in committing his winner to any of the international races that are on offer in Japan or the United States. There is a US$1 million bonus in winning Japan's Yasuda Kinen (Jpn-I).
"We'll not make any hasty decisions but I'll discuss plans with my owner John Yuen sometime soon, maybe tomorrow after we celebrate tonight," the trainer said.
"However I think we are odds on to stay in Hong Kong, and a big price against us going to the Yasuda Kinen or the Breeders' Cup. If we don't make this horse completely empty by pushing him too hard, then we can keep him going season after season so why not. He's enjoying running and winning," Schutz said.
Good Ba Ba completed a clean sweep of Hong Kong's major mile grass events.
Settled towards the rear early, the odds-on favorite was running comfortably with Doleuze sitting motionless as they reached the head of the stretch. From there, it was only a question of when the jockey asked Good Ba Ba to go.
At that moment, the son of Lear Fan responded enthusiastically and shot clear to win by one length from market rival Armada under Douglas Whyte. The veteran Bullish Luck kept on for third place for Gerald Mosse. The winning time was 1:33.50 on good going.
Afterward, Doleuze said, " It's hard to explain the feeling you get on the back of this horse. I've been lucky enough to ride some very good horses in my career, but this one is something special. Winning today I felt that I was going into the history books; he's now surely the horse of the year."
Schutz, in only his second season in Hong Kong, was equally delighted. "I was fortunate to get him, and I always thought that he was a group one horse. But I never dreamed that he could make a clean sweep of the major mile races here," he said.
"We've always tried to keep something in the tank with this horse and not do too much with him. He's best when he's fresh, and I think he's getting better and better. Halfway down the stretch he was still on the bridle and I was worried that he'd get there too soon, but then in a couple of strides he was two lengths clear, and it was all over."
"The winner was too good for me today," said Whyte of the runner-up Armada, who finished two lengths clear of Bullish Luck.
Good Ba Ba's career record now stands at 13 wins from 26 start. The Hong Kong International Sale purchase added another HK$4.5m to a bankroll that now stands at almost HK$32.5 million.