Racing just off the pace throughout while saving ground, Mendelssohn deftly angled out in the stretch under Ryan Moore and powered to the first grade 1 victory of his career in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Nov. 3 at Del Mar.
Bred in Kentucky by Clarkland Farm, Mendelssohn completed the one-mile test in 1:35.97 on firm turf and was followed home by Untamed Domain and Voting Control. Mendelssohn is campaigned by the Coolmore-associated owners of Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier, and Michael Tabor and is trained by Aidan O'Brien, who secured his 27th group/grade 1 win this season, adding to an already record-breaking season.
Mendelssohn was pre-entered as first preference for the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and second preference in the Juvenile Turf. But O'Brien thought, after an up-and-down start for Mendelssohn in his career, he didn't want to throw a new surface at the son of Scat Daddy.
"He's progressed with every race. We were afraid to change him up, so we kept him on the grass," O'Brien said. "He's stepped up every time. This is marvelous. It's been a big team effort this year."
The decision to stay on turf proved spot-on, as Mendelssohn broke smoothly from the inside post and soon settled into a tracking position behind Sands of Mali and Flameaway as they raced through a quarter-mile in :22.83 and a half-mile in :46.87. As many of the horses in the field of 14 began to make their charge in the far turn, Moore confidently held his inside position through six furlongs in 1:11.29.
Moore angled Mendelssohn out in the stretch and he found another gear, quickly taking command while West Point Thoroughbreds' Untamed Domain and Jose Ortiz launched a six-wide rally into the stretch to finish a length behind in second, but not seriously threatening the winner. Moore said Mendelssohn handled the inside post well.
"We made the best of the draw in number one," Moore said. "He ran a good race at Newmarket and he quickened well today."
It was the second runner-up finish of the day for West Point, who had Best Performance take runner-up honors in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T).
"He ran awesome. But, it's awfully tough to come in second in these races," said Untamed Domain's trainer Graham Motion. "It's better than seventh, I guess. I'm happy to be second, but you only have one shot at these races. He didn't get sharp away from there, but he never has been. He had to come very wide, but he ran great."
A future big start on dirt is still very much front of mind with the winning connections. Even though Mendelssohn ran well on the turf Friday, earlier in the week O'Brien said he would consider Mendelssohn for next year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Consigned by his breeder to the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale, Mendelssohn topped that sale when M.V. Magnier purchased the colt for $3 million.
Sent off as the lukewarm favorite, Mendelssohn returned $11.60 to win, $8.40 to place, and $5.60 to show while Untamed Domain returned $11 and $7. Voting Control paid $6.20.