The 2015 Breeders Cup event in Keeneland, USA at the weekend featured the final races in the careers of arguably the two best two middle distance horses in America and Europe. The Breeder’s Cup Classic scheduled over 1 mile 2 furlongs on the dirt track was targeted by American Pharoah who had become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the coveted American Triple Crown of the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and Preakness Stakes. Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Epsom Derby winner Golden Horn was earmarked for the Breeder’s Cup Turf race over his apparently favoured distance of 1m 4f. Although both horses were involved in the finishes of their respective races, they met with contrasting fortunes.
American Pharoah had been beaten by Keen Ice in his previous race which was considered a shock for the home racing public after his exemplary performances earlier in the season. As the starting stalls opened for the Breeder’s Cup Classic on Saturday, the Triple Crown winner assumed an early lead in ground conditions softened by heavy rain during previous days. The going certainly did not suit Irish contender Gleneagles, who favours a faster surface and failed to offer any viable challenge during the race.
As the horses turned the final bend, there was only likely to be one outcome as American Pharoah eased further away from his challengers, including Keen Ice, to secure legendary status among the USA racing public as the first winner of the Triple Crown and Breeder’s Cup Classic.
Not so fortunate was Golden Horn with Frankie Dettori riding the three year old colt. The Italian born jockey was content to position the horse close to the front of proceedings and with two furlongs remaining, he asked the ‘Arc’ winner to repeat his winning acceleration from that day in Paris, but ground conditions were far different.
On a much firmer surface in Paris, Golden Horn was never troubled in the closing stages but in Keenland, he was never able to assert the same authority. Although he led into the final furlong, he was gradually overtaken by the Aidan O’Brien trained filly Found who had been seriously hampered during the ‘Arc’ and was unable to offer a serious challenge in that race. Found had been narrowly beaten by Golden Horn in the Irish Champion Stakes over 1m 2f prior to his ‘Arc’ bid and had also lost the English equivalent when questionable delaying tactics allowed Fascinating Rock to beat his fellow Irish horse.
1m 4f is considered the ideal racing distance for Found and she was able to sustain her challenge to the winning post on Saturday with Golden Horn denied in second place by less than a length.
Although Golden Horn and American Pharoah will no longer race in public following their retirements, they have provided much entertainment at racecourses on both shores of the Atlantic Ocean this summer, but Found will hope to improve upon their achievements when she begins a four year old career next year.