Accelerate made trainer John Sadler’s first Breeders’ Cup victory a big one, winning the $6 million Classic at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
Sadler was 0-44 in Breeders’ Cup starts coming into the 1 1/4-mile showpiece of the $30 million festival, including a close call in the Mile earlier in the day at Louisville, Kentucky.
“Feels really good,” said Sadler, who admitted the constant questions about his Breeders’ Cup record had become “a point of irritation”.
Now, all that can be forgotten.
“We’ve got the big one,” he said. “So it’s a good day.”
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Accelerate showed some reluctance to enter the starting gate, but he broke cleanly and settled in as the Aidan O’Brien-trained Mendelssohn took the lead under Ryan Moore and blazed through a sizzling first quarter-mile.
Mendelssohn was still in front when they turned for home, but he couldn’t hold off the challenge of 5-2 favorite Accelerate, who won by a length from 28-1 shot Gunnevera.
Godolphin’s Thunder Snow, the Dubai World Cup winner, challenged late but finished third, 1 3/4 lengths back.
Line Of Duty added further lustre to a year to remember for Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby with victory in what proved to be a dramatic running of the $1million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs.
William Buick’s mount looked beaten at one stage, but picked up bravely to get the better of Uncle Benny – although the pair did bump just before the line, as well as coming close on the turn. A tense wait ensued, but the placings remained unaltered.
Derby-winning trainer Appleby was recording his third career win at the meeting from just five runners.
He said of his Galileo colt: “He was under the pump pretty early in proceedings, but it didn’t really bother me as he just loves to be driven, and the harder you drive him, the more he finds. It was a fantastic ride by William.
“I knew when he got him rolling down the straight there that he always hits the line strong, I knew he’d find plenty and that’s what he did.
“It’s a fantastic result for the team, to have another winner here is fantastic.”
Buick said: “He didn’t come out as well (from the stalls) as I’d have hoped, and when the incident happened my horse had come out to the middle of the track, while the other horse came across a gave me a couple of bombs.
“Then my horse lost his concentration, but it was right on the wire. Although it made no difference to the result, I would have respected the decision if it had gone the other way.
“The best horse definitely won the race, and in truth I didn’t have the most straightforward trip myself.”
Arthur Kitt was a gallant fourth for Tom Dascombe and Richard Kingscote, but Aidan O’Brien’s Anthony Van Dyck found things against him, breaking well enough from his draw in stall 14 but never able to get cover and ultimately struggling.
The most popular member of Godolphin’s Australian stable will again test a proven theory when he runs in Saturday’s G1 Kennedy Mile at Flemington.
Hartnell has contested more top-class races than most horses in training, winning four G1s at distances from 1400m to 2400m.
His trainer James Cummings has decided the eight-year-old is at his best up to 1600m, as he demonstrated last month when winning the G1 Epsom Handicap at Randwick.
“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Hartnell and he’s never disappointed me over seven furlongs. Keeping him to those trips has been extremely rewarding,” Cummings said.
“He enjoys the shorter work as well as the shorter races. That’s what we’ve stuck to this campaign and he’s kept on running well.”
In his only run since the Epsom, Hartnell finished second in the G1 Toorak Handicap behind Land Of Plenty to whom he conceded six kilos.
“He has a 2.5kg weight turnaround with Land Of Plenty from the Toorak,” Cummings said.
“That should make things pretty interesting back at Flemington where Hartnell’s probably a length better horse.”
“He’s eight-years-old but he’s got the skin of a two-year-old colt, he’s dancing around the stables.”