July 13, 2024

17-1 shot Audarya denies Rushing Fall in Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf

Audarya wins the 2020 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Coady Photography)

Under a masterful ride by replacement jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot, 17-1 shot Audarya wore down history-seeking favorite Rushing Fall in the final yards of Saturday’s $1.84 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). The French-bred thus completed her ascent to the top for British trainer James Fanshawe, who now has a perfect Breeders’ Cup strike rate with his first runner.

Rushing Fall, the winner of the 2017 Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Del Mar, was trying to join the rare club of horses to win two different Breeders’ Cup events. At her beloved Keeneland, the 2.90-1 favorite appeared to have history in her grasp in midstretch, but an early plot twist may have cost her late.

When the gate opened, Starship Jubilee stumbled to her knees from post 1 and unshipped Florent Geroux. That was just the first surprise.

Next came an unexpectedly aggressive early move from the opposite side of the field, Irish shipper Cayenne Pepper, who gunned it from post 14 and cleared them. Although Rushing Fall figured to be prominent with rival Mean Mary, their finely tuned pace calculations were upended as Cayenne Pepper rattled off fractions of :23.50 and :47.44 on a course upgraded to firm.

Meanwhile, Boudot artfully maneuvered Audarya into a ground-saving spot from post 11. The French ace, who picked up the mount when Ioritz Mendizabal was sidelined by a positive COVID test, had not ridden her before. But Boudot fit her like a glove, and Audarya crept forward on the backstretch until perched just behind the leaders approaching the far turn.

By that point, Cayenne Pepper was coming under pressure, and Mean Mary took over at the 6-furlong mark in 1:10.95. Rushing Fall, an outside stalking third, then picked up in pursuit swinging for home.

A reprise of the Diana (G1) was on tap as Rushing Fall dueled with Mean Mary and began to edge clear. About a furlong away from history, the favorite was in front. But she was not putting the race away at a 1 3/16-mile distance that stretched her stamina, and the pace was strong enough to tax it.

Audarya, switched outside for a clear path, was on the premises thanks to Boudot’s tactical dexterity. Staying on relentlessly, she got up by a neck in a course-record 1:52.72 and paid $37.60.

Rushing Fall saved second by a head from rallying Harvey’s Lil Goil, the American Pharoah filly who was coming off a victory here in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1). Lady Prancealot was a close fourth wider out, followed by Civil Union, 2018 champion Sistercharlie, Mean Mary, Nay Lady Nay, Sistercharlie’s half-sister My Sister Nat, Cayenne Pepper, Peaceful, Mucho Unusual, and Terebellum.

Owned by Alison Swinburn, who was married to the late rider Walter Swinburn, Audarya had only graduated to Group 1 company in August when posting a 47-1 upset of the Prix Jean Romanet (G1) at Deauville. The 4-year-old came right back to finish an excellent third to Turf (G1) winner Tarnawa in the Prix de l’Opera (G1) on Arc Day. Her Breeders’ Cup advances her record to 13-5-4-1 with earnings of more than $1.2 million – some return on investment for the €125,000 Arqana October yearling.

“First of all, thanks to all the team at home,” Fanshawe said. “The (traveling crew) has looked after her superbly since she’s been here. She’s done everything right since she’s been here. I just can’t believe it, some race to win. I’m just so thrilled. PC gave her a superb ride. Breeders’ Cup has looked after us amazingly.”

Rushing Fall’s trainer, Chad Brown, mentioned the distance as the factor in preventing a storybook ending to her career.

“That’s what it sounds like talking to Javier (Castellano),” Brown said. “I thought she was going to be able to pull it off in deep stretch there but it wasn’t to be. She’s had an outstanding career. She’s definitely the horse of a lifetime for anybody including me. Javier has done a super job riding her her entire career. I just thanked him for that.

“Sad to see her go (into retirement) because you’re not going to replace her easily, or if ever. Bottom line is I was super-proud of her effort today. She gave it all she had. I think it would be fitting (if she won the Eclipse Award) because she deserves it.”

Brown added that this was also the swan song for Sistercharlie, but that Nay Lady Nay would be back in 2021.

“Sistercharlie is another one where it was her last race, she just had a remarkable career for us. Her 6-year-old year didn’t really come together the way we hoped. Mr. (Peter) Brant gave it a shot. He’s a real sportsman. She’ll go on to his broodmare band. Nay Lady Nay will run next year, we’ll see how she comes back.”

Hall of Famer Bill Mott noted that Harvey’s Lil Goil’s effort validated her placement in this spot.

“She ran a great race. (Junior Alvarado) rode a great race. The timing didn’t bother me (from the Oct. 10 QE II). You know, it’s a 3-year-old against tough (older) fillies and two more jumps and she’s second. Put it this way, I’m glad we ran. I know there’s some skepticism of ‘should you be running in there’ or whatever, but she’s doing great and she was third in the Breeders’ Cup.”

“She ran awesome,” Alvarado said of Harvey’s Lil Goil. “It was a tough race. She was stepping up in company against older mares. We had a great trip. We followed the winner the whole way around. It was a great third for her. A couple more jumps and we would have finished second for sure and gotten closer to the winner. I was very happy with her effort today.”

Audarya was bred by S.A.R.L. Haras d’Ecouves, the establishment of retired French trainer Francois Doumen, and she hails from the family of his outstanding globetrotter Jim and Tonic. By hot sire Wootton Bassett, who has now joined the Coolmore roster, Audarya is out of the Green Tune mare Green Bananas, from the further family of Grade 1-winning millionaire Mauralakana.