Evelyn Stockwell's Hit It a Bomb, last of 14 at the midpoint of the race, found room in the lane and surged late to win the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Oct. 30 at Keeneland.
Ryan Moore rode Hit It a Bomb, a 2-year-old colt by War Front out of the Sadler's Wells mare Liscanna. He is trained by Aidan O'Brien and was bred in Kentucky by his owner.
Hit It a Bomb covered the mile on a course rated firm in 1:38.86. He finished a neck ahead of Airoforce in second, with Birchwood a neck back in third and Conquest Daddyo fourth. Hit It a Bomb paid $16.40 to win as the third choice.
Hit It a Bomb shipped to the United States off a pair of wins in Ireland in his first two starts, one on turf and the other on synthetic footing. It was his first start in graded or group company.
"When we got the outside post we were worried, and when the ground changed [after a few days of rain] we were also worried," O'Brien said. "Ryan said he would let him really relax, because he knew what he could do. This was always the plan; he's a real classy miler."
There was little movement in the Juvenile Turf until the field was midway on the far turn. Manhattan Dan, who had a pair of thirds in grade II company entering the Breeders' Cup, set fractions of :23.12 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, :48.22 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:13.28 for six furlongs while loose on the lead.
Dressed in Hermes raced in second and second choice Cymric third as the rest were bunched up behind the top three at least six lengths off the lead. Manhattan Dan held a two-length lead in mid-stretch but was swallowed up soon after as Birchwood, Airoforce, and Hit It a Bomb kicked in from behind.
Airoforce and Birchwood got first jump but Hit It a Bomb, after encountering traffic at the head of the stretch, ran them down late for his third win in as many start. Airoforce, who had won both of his starts, including the Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, turned in another fine effort.
"It went good," said Julien Leparoux, who rode Airoforce for trainer Mark Casse. "I was sitting and then made a big run. The winner just came by us at the end. The ground is a little loose. It's not like a yielding [course] where you go deep, but it's loose and sandy so there's a lot of kickback."
Casse also trains Conquest Daddyo, winner of the Summer Stakes in his previous start.
"All you can ask for is for them to run their race, and I'm proud of them both," Casse said. "I sure would have liked to win. We'll win one someday."
Richard Fahey, trainer of Birchwood, said the colt had a good trip but "just got nailed at the wire and ran out of petrol." He said Birchwood is better on "quicker ground."
Hit It a Bomb broke from the outside post 14, which left Moore with little to do but try to save ground. He eventually moved the colt outside, and then in between horses on the backstretch in an attempt to save ground. It wasn't the easiest trip, and O'Brien said Hit It a Bomb prefers firmer ground.
"We discussed the trip before the race and what to do [from post 14]," O'Brien said. "We had to work with it from there. Obviously I didn't know if he would get there or not."
Cymric, who missed winning a Group 1 stakes at Longchamp in France in his previous start, didn't run on in the lane and checked in eighth.
Hit It a Bomb was O'Brien's ninth winner in Breeders' Cup races. Moore has now won seven.