Juddmonte's Enable made history on Saturday as the first horse to win both the Arc de Triomphe and the Breeders' Cup Turf in the same season, but the 4-year-old daughter of Nathaniel did not find it easy in either start. She won the Arc by 2 1/2 lengths in 2017, but an injury early in 2018 had her making this year's Arc just her second start of the season. Enable managed to hold off Sea of Class by a short neck to defend her title, and she had another tough test beneath the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs.
Two days of rain during the week leading up to the Breeders' Cup had the turf course quite soft, and though jockey Frankie Dettori had galloped her on it Wednesday through Friday, Enable still struggled with the course through most of the 1 1/2-mile contest.
“I was a bit further back than I wanted to be,” Dettori said of the early part of the race, when Enable was as far back as seventh in the 14-horse field. “From the bend to the back straight, I was four-wide. I felt that the ground was much worse on the inside, but I didn't have the novelty to be wide with the draw. I was drawn two, and she didn't break that well. Then the pace was on straightaway. I was trying to get off the fence. But was still quite kind of pinned on the fence coming into the first turn.
“I was struggling to keep my position. She was shuffling with the legs. She was spinning. I was kind of struggling to keep my position. I managed to get up off the fence, then she was moving good again. She was happy. She wasn't struggling.”
Enable tracked the early pace of Glorious Empire through fractions of :24.65, :49.11 and 1:14.22 over ground officially rated as “good.”
“We were going pretty fast for a mile-and-a-half on soft ground,” said Dettori. “I knew that pace couldn't keep up. So then I was just waiting for her to give me the message she was ready to go. I kept my arm inside. The only one that can give me a race is Magical. I said to myself just wait, let her fill herself up with oxygen, then we'll wait till the straight. Obviously Magical took me on pretty early.”
Magical, trained by Aidan O'Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, is notorious for liking soft ground and was entering the Turf off a win in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes. She was immediately to Enable's inside as the two went very wide around the far turn, and the battle was on between them through the length of the stretch; they wound up nine lengths clear of third-place finisher Sadler's Joy.
“When I asked, 'C'mon, baby, let's go,' she went half a length up,” Dettori relayed. “(She) also ran with some difficulties. I knew then she was fighting for me. But Ryan (Moore, on Magical) was like a wasp, wasn't going away, was always there.
“Magical, she's a duck in water in these kind of conditions. She's a tough nut to crack. Two great fillies. Yeah, obviously (Enable) was fitter in the Arc, but conditions made it a bit difficult.
“She galloped (to) the line. She had every chance of throwing the towel in, but she didn't. She was very tough. Just look at the space we left till the third. It's pretty remarkable for the Breeders' Cup.”
Enable finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Magical on the line.
“I knew that she was strong,” Dettori said. “But the ground kind of spoiled it for my filly because I know she likes soft, but she really found it difficult. But she's a superstar.”
Asked immediately after the race if Enable would race for another season, racing manager Lord Teddy Grimthorpe did not have an answer. Both Dettori and trainer John Gosden were clearly enthusiastic about the idea of going for a third Arc run, of course.
“I think the sort of most important thing is to at least sit back and just enjoy this,” Grimthorpe summarized. “We tend to sort of move on far too quickly. Really the enormity of this, for the whole team, it's been so emotional. She has created those emotions within us all, especially within Juddmonte. I'm sure Prince Khalid will want to at least sit back and enjoy this. There's no great hurry. She's going to go back home to Newmarket. We'll make sure she's all right, then think about the future.”
— World Horse Racing (@WHR) November 4, 2018
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