One of the oldest factoids in Breeders’ Cup history has been eliminated, by one of the greatest champions ever to strut its stage. When Enable willed her way to victory in Saturday’s $3,572,000 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), she became the first reigning Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) winner to follow up with a score in the championships.
Enable was ending the “jinx” dating back to a fellow Juddmonte Farms colorbearer, the all-time great 1986 Arc hero Dancing Brave, who was only fourth as the 1-2 favorite in the Turf at Santa Anita. What started with one Juddmonte star has also ended with another, in a fitting piece of historical symmetry.
Trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori had come so close themselves to defying the stat three years ago with Golden Horn, only to be foiled by Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old filly Found. There were shades of déjà vu as the most serious threat to Enable came from the same quarter, and similar profile, in Magical. But this time, the O’Brien sophomore was repelled, and history was made.
Also the only two-time Arc winner to try the Breeders’ Cup, Enable was sent off as the 4-5 favorite at Churchill Downs. Dettori had earlier won the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) aboard another Juddmonte homebred, Expert Eye, and knew that the better footing was toward the outside on the rain-affected course. Thus after breaking from post 2, Dettori eased Enable back, just to maneuver into a more advantageous spot a few paths out.
Team O’Brien countered with a tactical move too. Magical’s 114-1 stablemate, Hunting Horn, did his best to stick to Enable’s outer flank in hopes of covering her up for as long as possible. When Dettori tried to slip the pocket on the backstretch, Hunting Horn picked up to extend the wall in front of her.
Meanwhile, Glorious Empire led the way through splits of :24.65, :49.11, 1:14.22, and 1:40.55 on the course officially described as “good.” Channel Maker attended the pace, with Hi Happy and defending champion Talismanic stalking. Magical was poised in midpack, to the inside of Enable.
Hi Happy picked up the baton from a retreating Glorious Empire and Channel Maker on the far turn. Hunting Horn went along with him to make Enable take the widest path into the stretch. At the same time, Hunting Horn’s jockey, Wayne Lordan, made sure to leave one path open between them – a lane that Magical could use, and rider Ryan Moore instantly took.
By saving ground relative to Enable swinging for home, Magical put her head in front at the 1 1/4-mile mark in 2:07.55. The fillies engaged in a stretch-long battle, leaving the males far behind.
Magical maintained a tenuous grip, but Enable was summoning ever more from her deep reserves. The farther they went, the more Enable began to assert, and Magical succumbed by a half-length. The fact that they needed :25.10 to negotiate a final quarter after those fractions, and clocked 1 1/2 miles in 2:32.65, speaks to the course condition.
Nine lengths away in third came Sadler’s Joy, who rallied from last. Arklow. The Andre Fabre duo of Waldgeist and Talismanic were next across the line, followed by Robert Bruce, Hunting Horn, and Hi Happy. The last four to finish – Quarteto de Cordas, Channel Maker, Liam the Charmer, and Glorious Empire – were all eased but walked off.
Enable just keeps adding historical accolades. The only filly to sweep the Oaks (G1), Irish Oaks (G1), and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (G1), she capped 2017 with two more laurels in the Yorkshire Oaks (G1) and Arc. After injury prevented her from starting 2018 until the September S. (G3) at Kempton, she achieved the feat of winning the Arc in her second outing of the season. Enable also stands alone in the record book for scoring her Arc victories over two courses, at Chantilly in 2017 and at the revamped ParisLongchamp October 7.
Now Enable has shattered another taboo, extending her overall mark to 10-for-11, $10,705,557. Her only career loss came in her sophomore debut in a Newbury conditions race. She rebounded in the Cheshire Oaks, the launching pad to her current nine-race winning streak.
The homebred daughter of Nathaniel is out of Group 3-placed stakes winner Concentric. The Sadler’s Wells mare is herself a full sister to Group 2 victress Dance Routine, the dam of champion Flintshire. That multiple Grade/Group 1-winning cousin of Enable placed twice in the Arc and twice in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Eclipse Award voters will give Enable strong consideration in the champion turf female category, although Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) winner Sistercharlie swept four majors, including the traditional divisional guideposts.
Quotes from Breeders’ Cup
Winning trainer John Gosden: “She was wonderful. I thought coming into the straight when Ryan (Moore on Magical) came up on her, we had a race on our hands. She’s had a hard race and as usual she showed enormous courage to go and win. I’m just delighted for her owner and breeder, Prince Khalid (Abdullah) who is such a great supporter of the Breeders’ Cup.”
Winning jockey Frankie Dettori: “On the first turn I was trying to get position and then I went right. I went four wide. She was moving well. I knew she was fighting for me. She was strong today.”
Aidan O’Brien, trainer of runner-up Magical: “She ran a really good race. I’m very happy.”
Trainer Thomas Albertrani on third-placer Sadler’s Joy: “Turning for home I thought we were going to win it, but they just outran him.”
Jockey Javier Castellano on Sadler’s Joy: “I had a perfect trip. It was a good third-place finish. He beat a lot of good horses in the race. Those two horses (Enable and Magical) in front of him were much the best. I’m proud of my horse and the way he did it.”
Trainer Brad Cox on fourth Arklow: “He ran well off a short rest. I am proud of him. A solid effort.”
Florent Geroux, who rode Arklow: “I had a good trip. He broke and looked like there was a good pace in front of us. I think he was fighting the track a little. It’s loose on the bottom and there’s not much to grab. He lost position in the last turn, which probably cost us third place.”
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. on seventh-placer Robert Bruce: “I got a great trip. I followed the winner the whole way. I followed Enable, but unfortunately my horse had no response for me today. Hopefully he comes back good and we move on to win some big Grade 1s in the future. He’s a very good horse.”