December 1, 2020

Order of Australia stuns Breeders’ Cup Mile for O’Brien at 73-1

Longshot Order of Australia tops an Aidan O'Brien trifecta in the Breeders' Cup Mile (Coady Photography)

Eighteen years after Aidan O’Brien suffered a brutal beat with 4-5 favorite Rock of Gibraltar, the master of Ballydoyle finally won his first Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) on Saturday, and sent out the trifecta to boot. Only his overdue Mile victory came with a 3-year-old lacking anything of the “Rock’s” accomplishments – the 73-1 Order of Australia, who needed a defection to draw in from the also-eligible list, and top stablemates Circus Maximus and Lope Y Fernandez at Keeneland.

Adding to the accomplishment, Order of Australia was bred by Aidan and Anne Marie O’Brien’s Whisperview Trading. He’s the son and grandson of two past Ballydoyle stars – Australia and his sire in turn, Galileo. Order of Australia is a half-brother to last year’s Filly & Mare Turf (G1) heroine Iridessa, trained by Aidan and Anne Marie’s son Joseph. And his second dam is Starine, who won the 2002 Filly & Mare Turf at Arlington – ironically, the same day of Rock of Gibraltar’s near-miss.

Order of Australia had been competing over 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 miles all season, his lone effort at a mile being a heavy-ground sixth on debut at Naas last November. Nor had his performances marked him out as a world-class miler in embryo. Yet to win a black-type event, he was fourth in the Irish Derby (G1) and a retreating seventh in the French Derby (G1), and workmanlike when winning versus lesser at Dundalk and the Curragh this fall. Order of Australia was a tailed-off last in the Oct. 11 International (G3) in his latest, excusable given the pace on soft going, but his cross-entry to Friday’s Bryan Station appeared a likelier destination.

With an oversubscribed field for the Mile, Order of Australia was the obvious one left on the outside looking in. But his chance came when British mare One Master was withdrawn. Order of Australia’s rider as of entry time, Christophe Soumillon, was also ruled out after a positive COVID test.

Thus Order of Australia was in but needed a jockey, Who else but One Master’s now available pilot, Pierre-Charles Boudot, already involved with Coolmore as the rider of Mogul?

A similar chain of circumstances had led to Boudot’s picking up the winning mount on Audarya in the Filly & Mare Turf (G1), and now the pandemic handed him another in the Mile. As with Audarya, Boudot exhibited his skills in the saddle to navigate the best trip.

Breaking a tad slowly from the far outside post 14, Boudot made sure to use Order of Australia’s tactical speed to secure position, the right move since his stamina was not in doubt. He was well placed in fourth as Halladay dictated fractions of :23.48, :46.97, and 1:10.39 on the firm turf. Kameko, the lukewarm 5-1 favorite, also appeared in an ideal tracking spot on the inside, but he could not take advantage down the lane.

Order of Australia was the one surging past Halladay inside the final furlong, clutch timing while the other O’Brien runners were just starting to play their hands. Circus Maximus, who had been in Kameko’s slipstream, tipped out in pursuit and gradually gained. Lope Y Fernandez had a taller mountain to climb and did well to close most of the gap, but their unheralded stablemate had nicked enough of an advantage to lead home the unlikeliest Ballydoyle sweep.

A neck up on Circus Maximus, with another three-quarters back to Lope Y Fernandez, Order of Australia clocked the mile in 1:33.73 and sparked a $148.40 win payout. That’s a record for the Mile, surpassing Court Vision’s $131.60 in the 2011 running at Churchill Downs.

Ivar fared best of the American-based contenders in fourth, a head in front of defending champion Uni, who rallied from near the tail of the field for fifth. Concluding the order of finish were Halladay, Kameko, Factor This, Siskin, Raging Bull, Digital Age, Casa Creed, March to the Arch, and tailed-off Safe Voyage whose “rider lost action multiple times” according to the chart.

Traveling head lad Pat Keating credited the Ballydoyle teamwork, much like O’Brien himself, now a 13-time Breeders’ Cup winner, does.

“It’s a real team effort – we’re very happy. First three home is unbelievable,” Keating said. “You need a lot of luck in this game. We’re looking enough to have good horses and good jockeys. I’m just happy for everyone involved.”

“It’s dream come true,” Boudot said after scoring the first two Breeders’ Cup wins of his career with pick-up mounts. “It is only by chance to get these rides, and I’m sorry for Ioritz Mendizabal (scheduled to ride Audarya) and Christophe Soumillon. Audarya was amazing, a real warrior. It’s a difficult situation with COVID, but I was given two nice opportunities.

“Order of Australia is a fast horse, the mile is very good for him and the good ground was perfect. He gave me a nice turn of foot but when he got to the front. He’s a tricky horse as he needs some help to concentrate. I’m over the moon.”

Jockey Ryan Moore was happy with runner-up Circus Maximus, but Frankie Dettori was ruing a loss of position aboard Lope Y Fernandez.

“My horse ran lovely,” Moore said of Circus Maximus. “He ran a solid race.”

“He ran very well,” Dettori said. “I lost my spot on the turn. That cost me a bit. Then he came in good.”

Trainer Chad Brown was out of luck with his trio of Uni, Digital Age, and Raging Bull.

“Uni clearly ran the best race, and none of my horses got good position,” Brown said. “Digital Age leapt at the start. (Jockey) Javier (Castellano) said he was rocking back and forth and they opened the gate. He lost all chance there just sitting in the back. He tried to make a little run, but from that point forward he was a little disinterested. Raging Bull, for him, he wasn’t in terrible position, but was a little bit flat down the lane.

“Uni just couldn’t secure that midpack spot I was hoping for. Watching how the turf is playing, it encouraged my jockeys, if possible, to be near or in some sort of striking range turning for home. None of them could and it seems that only one of the three actually kicked off the quarter-pole and could have possibly won the race if in better position was Uni.

“She’s been a remarkable horse for us,” Brown added of the champion turf mare, who is scheduled to sell at Sunday’s Fasig-Tipton November Sale. “One of the smaller horses we’ve trained and has one of the biggest hearts. If not the biggest heart, the biggest turn of foot. She’s going to be extremely difficult to replace and whoever is the next person to own her is a very lucky person.”

Order of Australia’s first stakes win improved his resume to 8-3-0-1, and he became an instant millionaire with a bankroll of $1,096,682. The Irish-bred is not only a half to the aforementioned Iridessa, but also to the 2-year-old filly Santa Barbara (by Camelot), who created a big impression in her debut victory at the Curragh Sept. 26.

Their dam, the Danehill mare Senta’s Dream, is now in illustrious company after producing two Breeders’ Cup winners. Five other mares are responsible for multiple winners – Primal Force, dam of 1998 Classic (G1) hero Awesome Again and 2000 Juvenile (G1) scorer Macho Uno; Hasili, dam of Filly & Mare Turf queens Banks Hill (2001) and Intercontinental (2005); Sweet Life, dam of 2004 Juvenile Fillies (G1) vixen Sweet Catomine and 2009 Distaff (G1) winner Life Is Sweet; Win Approval, dam of Mile kingpins Miesque’s Approval (2006) and World Approval (2017); and Leslie’s Lady, who owns the most Breeders’ Cup wins by progeny thanks to three-time legend Beholder (the 2012 Juvenile Fillies and two Distaffs in 2013 and 2016) and 2017 Juvenile Turf (G1) victor Mendelssohn.