Midday Gives Cecil First Breeders' Cup Win
Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Midday slipped through the inside at the top of the lane, opened up a clear lead in the stretch, and then held off a late charge by Pure Clan to win the $2-million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) by a length Nov. 6 at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO).
Midday, who was bred in England, gave the Europeans their second win of the 26th Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The 3-year-old daughter of Oasis Dream was making her first start in the United States. She is trained by Henry Cecil, a renowned English trainer who earned his first Breeders’ Cup victory after many years.
“It was lovely,” Cecil said. “I did fancy Father Time in the Marathon, but he just didn’t seem to let himself go at all, so I was wondering what was going to happen here. It’s a relief. It’s great for the Prince (Khalid Abdullah, owner of Juddmonte). He has been a great supporter of mine. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here now. I was quite happy.”
With Thomas Queally aboard, Midday raced mid-pack in a field of eight through the early going while Visit, also bred in England by Juddmonte and by Oasis Dream, set a moderate pace under John Velazquez. The 4-year-old filly loped along through fractions of :24.14 for the opening quarter-mile and :48.83 for a half-mile, with Dynaforce and Rutherienne doing their best to stay close.
Midday began to edge closer after Visit went six furlongs in 1:12.95, moving along the inside to take third position, just behind Dynaforce as they made their way into the turn. Visit was still the leader when they straightened away, and led by two lengths with a furlong remaining, but Queally found room on the inside and moved his charge by the longtime leader in upper stretch.
Midday found another gear when opening up her lead approaching the sixteenth-pole. A late burst by Garrett Gomez-ridden Pure Clan, who came from near the back of the pack, posed a mild threat to Midday, but it was not in time.
The final time for 1 1/4 miles on the firm turf was 1:59.14. Lewis Lakin’s Pure Clan was runner-up, 1 1/4 lengths in front of slight favorite Forever Together. The winner of last year’s Filly & Mare Turf on her way to being named champion female grass horse, Forever Together was making the final start of her sensational career. But the day belonged to Midday and her connections.
“The biggest win of my career, undoubtedly,” Queally said. “She hit a flat spot over on the backside, and I had to get after her. She has a top gear that is really something, but we had to find it. When she quickens, it’s just a dream.
“I saw lots of rails all the way around. It was a dream run. Nine times out of 10 it won’t work out that way for you, but today was the day. I am over the moon.”
Midday, who is out of the Kingmambo mare Midsummer, entered the race off a third-place finish in the Oct. 4 Qatar Petroleum Prix de l’Opera (Fr-I) at Longchamp, one start prior to earning a group I score in the Blue Square Nassau Stakes in England. She has now won four of 11 lifetime starts for earnings of $1,561,105.
The winner, sent off as the second choice, paid $6.60, $4.80, and $3. Pure Clan, a Bob Holthus trainee, returned $7.80 and $4, and completed a $26.80 exacta (6-5) for $1. The $1 trifecta (6-5-2) paid $95.
Visit nosed out Magical Fantasy for fourth. Maram finished sixth, followed by Rutherienne and Dynaforce.
Forever Together raced last throughout the event and was still trailing the field at the top of the stretch. She made her patented late move in the stretch but it wasn't in time.
“I warned (jockey Julien Leparoux) in the paddock that I didn't see much pace here, and told him you might want to be a little closer," trainer Jonathan Sheppard said. "I was very concerned after a quarter-mile that she was too far back. She made her run, she always does, but from an almost impossible position."
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