BREEDERS' CUP MILE | PURSE: $2,00,000 | GRADE 1 | 3-YR-OLDS & UP | ONE MILE (TURF)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. --Court Vision, the second-most unlikely winner in Breeders' Cup history, won a desperate photo finish with Turallure in the Breeders' Cup Mile and sent Mile legend Goldikova into retirement with her first Breeders' Cup loss.
A 64-1 shot who had not won a race in more than 13 months, Court Vision held on by a whisker over 11-1 Turallure, with Goldikova another length back in third. Rail-drawn and trapped down inside for much of the race, Goldikova and jockey Olivier Peslier bulled their way to daylight at the top of the homestretch, knocking Courageous Cat off stride in so doing, and, as the crowd roared, briefly took the lead. But even as Goldikova surged closer toward a mind-blowing fourth Mile win, Court Vision and Turallure burst from the back of the pack, rallying inexorably on the outside and wearing down a Breeders' Cup favorite in the final half-furlong.
"When the others came, she didn't have anything more," trainer Freddie Head said, echoing what Peslier told him just after the race.
It looked like Court Vision didn't have anything more, either. The 30-race veteran had been purchased mainly as a stallion prospect by owner B. Wayne Hughes earlier this year, and appeared to be past his prime. After winning the 2010 Woodbine Mile, he finished fifth behind Goldikova in the BC Mile, and had not come home better than fourth in four starts this season. Court Vision made his first start for trainer Dale Romans in the Sept. 18 Woodbine Mile and finished seventh, though he was beaten just a little more than three lengths.
It was not a horrible showing, but Court Vision still looked like a desperate outsider in the $2 million Mile, especially with the likes of Goldikova in the race.
"It's a lot easier than riding an 8-5 shot, actually," winning jockey Robby Albarado said, when asked how he approached piloting a horse at 64-1.
Albarado, who won his third Breeders' Cup race, has undergone a difficult year. He was involved in domestic trouble in Louisville this past spring, and has won races during 2011 at only an 11-percent clip, a much lower rate than usual.
"All the personal stuff that went on this year - I don't know if this is redemption, but it feels pretty good," Albarado said.
The first two across the wire were the last two to the far turn, trailing the 13-horse field as Get Stormy, pressed by Jeranimo and Sidney's Candy, set moderate fractions of 24.17 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 48.18 for the half. Court Vision was the first to pick up, passing horses around the bend while at least four paths off the fence, Turallure coming along on his tail. The two turned into the stretch way out in the middle of the course, where the going appeared to be firmer, and dashed toward the finish.
Turallure was late changing leads, finally switching over just past the sixteenth pole, and once leveled off he appeared to have Court Vision in his sights, falling just short at the wire.
"I thought I won," said jockey Julien Leparoux.
Court Vision's $131.60 win price was second in BC history only to the $269.20 Arcangues paid winning the 1993 Classic. A 6-year-old Gulch horse who is headed to stud for 2012 at Park Stud in Canada, Court Vision won for the ninth time in 31 starts, running one mile on firm going in 1:37.05. Behind Goldikova came Gio Ponti, Mr. Commons, Sidney's Candy, Jeranimo, Byword, Zoffany, Strong Suit, Compliance Officer, Get Stormy, and Courageous Cat.
Pat Valenzuela, Courageous Cat's rider, claimed foul against Peslier for interference at about the three-sixteenths pole, and appeared to have a strong case, since Courageous Cat was knocked off stride. Stewards disallowed the objection, saying Courageous Cat and Goldikova were going for the same hole, and that Courageous Cat already was a beaten horse.
And while it is good practice to focus on the winner of a race, and not its loser, the story of the 2011 Mile remains Goldikova. She won 14 Group or Grade 1 races during a career that spanned five seasons, and goes out remembered as one of the most compelling racehorses of recent decades.
"Now she's gone," said Head. "That's life. That's racing."