Thoughts and Observations on the 2023 Breeders' Cup

If John R. Gaines were around today, he would be immensely proud at how his idea has expanded since he announced the creation of the Breeders' Cup back in 1982.

After the inaugural running at Hollywood Park in 1984 was a tremendous success, the Breeders' Cup immediately came to fruition in the way Gaines intended. A series of races featuring the world's best horses and jockeys deciding divisional titles did exactly that, as no less than five winners on that first Breeders' Cup Day picked up Eclipse Awards.

In the four decades since that grand day for Thoroughbred racing, the Breeders' Cup has visited several tracks around the country, hosted an abundance of legends, produced winners both in North America and around the world, and expanded from one day to two.

In its fortieth iteration, the Breeders' Cup did not come up light on memorable moments, huge payouts, and horses securing championships. With Santa Anita serving as host for a record eleventh time, greatness was seen these last two days.

Here's a look back at Breeders' Cup 2023!

-Nice first win for Lord Bullingdon in Friday's opener, and in a stakes. This colt has shown promise, taking second in the Grade III Del Mar Juvenile Turf back in September. That stretch run was strong, and he might be one to watch as we get ready for Del Mar's Bing Crosby Season and Santa Anita's Classic Meet.

-Kudos to Pete Aiello on his call in Friday's Senator Ken Maddy Stakes. It cannot be easy calling races on the hillside turf, but he did well taking the microphone for the contest. And nice rally, Wet My Beak!

-The most successful horse on Breeders' Cup Friday was Justify. He never got to race in the two day event after being retired in 2018, but he has done the next best thing by siring two champions in Just F Y I (Juvenile Fillies) and Hard To Justify (Juvenile Fillies Turf).

-As far as trainers go, Aidan O'Brien is the undisupted master of the Juvenile Turf and Turf races.

-When it comes to the jockeys, Ryan Moore is the undisputed master of the Juvenile Turf.

-Just F Y I overcame the extreme outside post, was hustled to the front, had a great stalking trip, and then took over to win the Juvenile Fillies. This is a game horse and she deserved the win.

-Not sure what happened with Tamara, but this is a filly with some talent. She can rebound from this loss.

-Of all the horses competing Friday and Saturday, the one who had the most appropriate name was Fierceness. And for evidence of that, just watch him in the stretch run of the Juvenile.

-Cody's Wish was the best story of the Breeders' Cup, hands down. The morning line favorite, the post time favorite and the sentimental favorite in the Dirt Mile, he deserved to win. And how wonderful to have Cody Dorman and his family there for it. And that emotional moment with the Dorman family...amazing.

-Inspiral gave a thrilling stretch run in the Filly & Mare, and how fitting that Frankie Dettori gets a win at Breeders' Cup 40 after all the success he has accumulated at the event over the years. And the sense here is that it may also be a foreshadowing of what to expect from Dettori at Santa Anita this winter, meaning many visits to the winners' circle.

-Mawj ran well in the Mile, beating most of the boys. She finished the runner up, but lost nothing in defeat.

-Casa Creed may not have won the Mile, but how cool that he finished third on the birthday of one of his owners.

-Master of The Seas put on the rally of the Breeders' Cup. And given Mawj finished second, one can only wonder what was going through the minds of those at Godolphin Racing in that stretch run.

-Idiomatic had a perfect trip around the main oval, but showed grit in the stretch run of the Distaff. That tenacity helped her cap off a big year, and Champion Older Female honors is hers.

-Auguste Rodin was full of run just before the stretch. Moreover, he had a perfect opening on the inside in the Turf and took it. And how he finished that race? Brilliance. Pure brilliance.

-Fun fact: Auguste Rodin's sire is the great Deep Impact, whose sire was the legendary Sunday Silence, winner of the 1989 Breeders' Cup Classic. With Auguste Rodin winning the Turf, it's great to have Sunday Silence connected to another Breeders' Cup victory.

-That aerial shot of Santa Anita and all the cars in the parking lot on Fanduel TV prior to the Breeders' Cup Classic was epic.

-Seeing thousands in the grandstand during the Classic's post parade was amazing. It was like a callback to the old days.

-Have to hand it to Derma Sotogake. While he loves the 1 1/4 mile distance, he was facing a layoff going back to the Kentucky Derby. He finished second, but he showed up to race. A terrific effort on his part.

-White Abarrio is a runner, and a beautiful horse. He earned that Classic win.

-The Breeders' Cup Classic is the main event of the two days. It needs to be the last Breeders' Cup race run.

-Seeing that still of Hollywood Park's starting gate from the inaugural Breeders' Cup on the NBC broadcast was perfect, as the track deserved a moment after hosting the event in 1984.

-Sixteen years after winning the Classic, Curlin dominated with three of his progeny winning Breeders' Cup races. That's how you celebrate an anniversary.

-On a Saturday that saw the Breeders' Cup races yield an average win payout of $8.28 for a $2 win ticket, Nobals was the true maverick among the winners by winning the Turf Sprint at 12-1.

-Elite Power looked good around the far turn, showing patience, and was easily the best in the Sprint.

-As far as handicappers go, the big winners at Breeders' Cup were those who scored Super High 5 payouts (some of which were in the tens of thousands of dollars), and the Pick 5 and Pick 6 on Friday. To all who cashed those tickets, great handicapping.

-To our local contingent, it was not the best of Breeders' Cups in terms of the results, but we are proud of all of you.

-After having two horses loaded into the van Friday, we thankfully did not see that on Saturday. The sport needed a day like Saturday after all the recent bad news. And thankfully, we had no fatalities on either race day. The safety of horses and jockeys are paramount.

-Mountain Bear and Bus Buzz, good thoughts are being sent your way as you both recover.

-Geaux Rocket Ride and Practical Move, you were both terrific horses and you are both missed.

That's it for Breeders' Cup 40. Next year, Del Mar.

Published by Support California Horse Racing on November 5, 2023.