What is it about the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) that makes winners want to double their fun?
Of the six horses that have won two Breeders' Cup races, three did their repeat winning in the Mile.
And that number has a chance of growing this year as the Niarchos family's Six Perfections gets set to defend her crown. A year ago at Santa Anita, Six Perfections took the Mile by three-quarters of a length over Touch of the Blues in a salty 1:33.86. The now-4-year-old
filly, though winless since the Breeders' Cup, is being prepared for a repeat by trainer Pascal Bary.
Turf runners tend to stay on in their careers longer than their counterparts on dirt, accounting for some of their resiliency in the Breeders' Cup, and of course the juvenile races by definition cannot hold repeat winners. Outside the Mile, only Tiznow
, in his unforgettable stirring runs in the 2000 and 2001 Classic (gr. I), Bayakoa in the 1989 and 1990 Distaff (gr. I), and High Chaparral in the 2002 and 2003 John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. I, the latter in a dead heat with Johar), have earned repeat honors in Breeders' Cup competition.
The Mile, though, holds a different story. When Miesque hit the finish line four lengths in front of her field at Churchill Downs in 1988, she marked up the first repeat victory in Breeders' Cup history. Interestingly enough, Miesque was owned by Stavros Niarchos, whose family campaigns Six Perfections. In 1987 at Hollywood Park, Miesque launched her attack from just off the pace to defeat longshot Show Dancer by 3 1/2 lengths. Both years, she was ridden by Freddie Head and conditioned by Francois Boutin.
Four years after Miesque's repeat, Claiborne Farm's Lure led every step of the way to win the 1992 Mile at Gulfstream Park by three lengths over Paradise Creek. Arazi was looking for a Breeders' Cup repeat in that race, having gained fame in the previous year's Juvenile (gr. I). However, the 3-2 favorite was nowhere to be found in Lure's course-record- breaking performance. The 3-year-old son of Danzig
, ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Shug McGaughey, got the mile in 1:32 4/5.
A year later at Santa Anita, Lure was made the favorite and didn't disappoint. Although having to race wide early, he gained the advantage with a half-mile to run, and drew off by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:33 2/5 for the same connections.
The only horse to gain repeat wins in Breeders' Cup heat in non-consecutive years was Da Hoss. Da Hoss was immensely talented, but at the same time bothered by a series of ailments, including a torn hoof and hind-end lameness. Yet the gelding set a world record for six furlongs at age 2, and two years later came into the 1996 Mile at Woodbine in peak form. From an outside post, he brushed past the field of 14 to score by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:35 4/5.
Due to a variety of injuries, trainer Michael Dickinson kept Da Hoss out of action for the entire 1997 season, and got only one race into him in preparation for the 1998 Mile at Churchill Downs. Da Hoss, owned by Prestonwood Farm and Wallstreet Racing Stable, was neck and neck with Hawksley Hill down the stretch, prevailing by a head and cementing legendary status upon his trainer.
So Six Perfections has plenty of precedent in her favor entering the gate for the 2004 Mile at Lone Star. Not only have there been three repeat winners already in the Mile, but one of them was a filly as well. We'll see if Six Perfections can double her pleasure under the eyes of Texas.