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Racing Dudes Three Stars of the Week: Breeders’ Cup Does Not Disappoint
Assistant trainer Laura Moquett walks Whitmore back to the barn after winning the Sprint (Credit: Coady Photography)

Racing Dudes Three Stars of the Week: Breeders’ Cup Does Not Disappoint

The year-long build-up to the 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships did not disappoint, as we watched year-end honors decided on the track, living up to the very reason why this weekend was created 37 years ago. Since we saw so many scintillating performances from several of the world’s best in their respective divisions, we instead wanted to highlight which winners we thought had the best stories in our latest Three Stars of the Week:

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1. Whitmore

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again until you get what you want. The 7-year-old grizzled veteran Whitmore was determined to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in his illustrious career, even if he needed to make a fourth attempt to get it. Think about that feat for a moment: trainer Ron Moquett kept this horse healthy enough AND at an elite enough level that Whitmore even QUALIFIED for the Breeders’ Cup four straight years, let alone finishing third last year and second in 2018 (we’ll forgive his eighth-place finish in 2017).

Moquett’s son Chance tweeted about why this momentous occasion was especially significant:

Congratulations to the entire Moquett team, including Ron’s wife Laura, his assistant trainer and as he said, the only person Whitmore seems to like.

2. Tarnawa

This was our favorite performance of the weekend. We were extremely confident that the filly Tarnawa could defeat the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), and boy, were we right. She was at the rear of the field as they hit the top of the stretch for the final time, but as Aaron Halterman said on the Blinkers Off Saturday live reaction show, it only took her one second to make us go from worried to knowing that she would win. It was going to take an awfully special horse to beat the ultra-classy Magical (a narrow second here 2 years ago) and the other world-class turfers who lined up to face her, but that’s exactly what Tarnawa was on Saturday: awfully special.

Special recognition to top overseas trainer Dermot Weld for getting his first Breeders’ Cup win, as did jockey Colin Keane, who inherited the mount a day before the race and had never before ridden Tarnawa.

3. Order of Australia

Order of Australia’s victory in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup FanDuel Mile (G1) was the most shocking and unexpected of the weekend for so many reasons. First of all, he wasn’t even supposed to make the gate – he was on the outside looking into the rest of the field, having been placed on the Also Eligible list. His connections cross-entered him in a Friday’s Bryan Station Stakes just so that he could compete, but earlier in the week, the mare One Master was announced as a scratch.

Order of Australia therefore drew into the field, but further complications arose Friday morning when the Breeders’ Cup announced that jockey Christophe Soumillon had tested positive for Covid-19 and would no longer be allowed to ride Order of Australia (or Tarnawa; see above to read how that worked out). The best available jockey at a moment’s notice? Pierre-Charles Boudot, who was named to be aboard One Master.

Finally, Aidan O’Brien – perhaps the number-one turf trainer in the world – had somehow never won this race. What happened after the gates flung open? Order of Australia led stablemates Circus Maximus and Lope Y Fernandez across the wire to give O’Brien the trifecta and the most unlikely result of the entire weekend.

Adding even more intrigue to this story? The Bryan Station winner – Ever Dangerous – was a 74/1 longshot who was on THAT race’s Also Eligible list and who only made it into the gate because One Master scratched from the Mile, which then allowed Order of Australia to make the Mile (and thus scratch out of the Bryan Station). Everything comes back to One Master! Maybe she should be our Honorable Mention this week…

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