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ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 5, 2016) – Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s Highland Reel went to the front shortly after the break, opened a huge lead on the run down the backstretch and had more than enough to hold off favored Flintshire by 1 ¾ lengths to win the 33rd running of the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) for 3-year-olds and up on Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita Park.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Seamus Heffernan, Highland Reel covered the mile and a half on a firm turf course in 2:23.00. Defending champion Found finished another 2 ¼ lengths back in third.
It was the seventh victory for the partnership of owners in the World Championships and third in the Turf with the other wins coming with Found last year and St Nicholas Abbey in 2011.
It is Heffernan’s first Breeders’ Cup win and the 11th for O’Brien with six of them coming in the Turf.
O’Brien’s other Turf winners are High Chapparal (2002-03), St Nicholas Abbey, Magician (2013) and Found.
Winning and third-place trainer Aiden O’Brien (Highland Reel, 1st and Found, 3rd) – “Seamus (Heffernan) is a great lad. We were quite happy to make the running here. He’s a very good horse and I’m absolutely delighted.”
On Found: “Ryan (Moore) said he got the filly in a good position, but the winner obviously got away from us. She finished well.”
Winning co-owner Derrick Smith (Highland Reel) – “It was great. The race was set up for us with the ground and everything else.”
Second-place jockey Javier Castellano (Flintshire, favorite) – “He tried to steal the race and he stole it. Unfortunately, the way it worked out, it was unfortunate for my horse. Usually you don’t see the European horses run so aggressively, open up and carry their speed. Especially at 1 ½ miles but it worked out great for him.”
Second-place trainer Chad Brown (Flintshire, favorite) – “Naturally, I’m disappointed with the outcome, but I was very proud of his race today. The course is very, very firm and when you have a classy horse (Highland Reel) like that alone on the lead, it’s dangerous. We had no excuses.”
Fourth-place trainer Sir Michael Stoute (Ulysses) – “I was very pleased with his run and Frankie (Dettori) was delighted with him. The first three are seriously good horses. He’ll be a nice horse for next year.”
Fourth-place jockey Frankie Dettori (Ulysses) – “He had a great trip. He’s not as tough as the first three, but we’ll come back next year.”
Fifth-place trainer Peter Eurton (Ashleyluvssugar) – “That horse got away and he didn’t seem to have his punch, but of course this is the Breeders’ Cup, so it could be that he just got outrun to a respectable fifth.”
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