Legendary Irish trainer Dermot Weld filled one final lacuna on his extensive resume – a Breeders’ Cup victory – when Tarnawa roared from off the pace to capture the $3.68 million Turf (G1). The Aga Khan’s homebred outkicked 2.10-1 favorite Magical in an all-European distaffer exacta.
It was also the first Breeders’ Cup score for jockey Colin Keane, a super-sub for Christophe Soumillon who was sidelined by a positive COVID test. That was the second win on the card that Soumillon missed after Order of Australia in the Mile (G1). There Pierre-Charles Boudot was the beneficiary in what became one of the themes of the day, as he also won the Filly & Mare Turf (G1) with another pandemic-caused pick-up in Audarya.
Like Boudot with his serendipitous partners, Keane hadn’t ridden Tarnawa in her previous races, but he gave her just the type of patient trip she appreciates. She had received a timely form boost through Audarya, who was coming off a third to her in the Prix de l’Opera (G1). Tarnawa employed a similarly potent late rally as the 4.70-1 third choice at Keeneland.
As expected, Channel Maker set sail for the lead through sedate fractions of :25.57, :51.06, 1:15.99, and 1:40.52 on the firm turf. United, last year’s near-misser, attended in second, while Magical was surrounded by Arklow and Red King in the next flight.
Channel Maker tried to slip the field cornering for home, and his increased pace propelled him a couple of lengths clear. United was unable to maintain position after bobbling noticeably on the far turn, and Magical was the only stalker still plugging away purposefully, if not impressively, in the stretch.
Keane handled Tarnawa confidently, preferring to take the overland route and trusting in her powers of acceleration upon straightening. The Shamardal filly quickened on cue to win going away by a length while finishing 1 1/2 miles in 2:28.02.
Magical soldiered on to nip Channel Maker. The Aidan O’Brien mare was taking Turf runner-up honors for the second time, after bowing to Enable in 2018. British shipper Lord North edged Ballydoyle’s other hope, Mogul. Next came Arklow; Mehdaayih, Lord North’s stablemate from the John Gosden yard, who briefly advanced into place contention before fading; United; Red King; and Germany’s Donjah, who took an awkward step on the clubhouse turn and trailed.
“Pretty straightforward, to be honest,” Keane recapped. “Mr. Weld said get her out the gates and ride her as you find her. I spoke to Oisin Orr (her rider in the Give Thanks [G3] at Cork ) and he said she’s very straightforward. We just tipped away down the back straight then we got going before the bend then off she went. We got a clean run then and she was very good to the line.”
Magical’s rider, Ryan Moore, sounded downcast.
“It wasn’t the result we were looking for, but we have to take it.”
Channel Maker’s third delighted Bill Mott.
“He ran lights out,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “He ran a huge race. Magical beat us a nose and she’s a good filly.”
“My horse gave me a nice race,” jockey Manny Franco said of Channel Maker. “He was fighting the whole way and in the stretch, too. When they came to him, he kept giving it to me, but those other two horses were better today.”
Florent Geroux had a telling description of his passage aboard sixth-placer Arklow.
“Yeah, he was in a good position. The pace was very slow and he was just pulling very hard on me all the way,” Geroux said. “It’s not ideal. My arms are numb.”
Hall of Famer Richard Mandella commented that he was going to check on United.
“He took an awkward step,” Mandella said. “He didn’t recover from it, it didn’t look like, so I’m going to hustle back to the barn. He looks O.K. there walking off, but I’m going to get back there and take a good look.”
Tarnawa crowned an unbeaten 4-year-old season that began with a title defense in the Aug. 8 Give Thanks. A three-length conqueror of the Sept. 13 Prix Vermeille (G1), she encountered far worse conditions in her return trip to ParisLongchamp but still got up in time in the Opera. Her 2019 campaign was highlighted by scores in the Blandford (G2) and Blue Wind (G3) along with her first Give Thanks, and her only disappointments came in the Oaks (G1) at Epsom and the British Champions Fillies & Mares (G1). The chestnut has amassed more than $2.8 million from a record of 14-8-2-2.
Irish-bred Tarnawa is out of the Cape Cross mare Tarana, a multiple stakes winner who placed third versus males in the 2014 Curragh Cup (G3) over 1 3/4 miles.
The third Breeders’ Cup winner for the Aga Khan, all in the Turf, Tarnawa followed in the hoofsteps of inaugural hero Lashkari (1984) and Kalanisi (2000). She is the fifth female Turf winner, but unique in that she had not faced males previously. The first four Turf divas – Pebbles (1985), Miss Alleged (1991), Found (2015), and Enable – had already been tested in male company at the highest level.