The Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile finish was a thriller for spectators at Churchill Downs Saturday, but it also proved a nail-biter for Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of victor Expert Eye (GB). Expert Eye and Frankie Dettori were shuffled farther back than is typical for the 3-year-old colt. The pair were fourth from last going into the first turn, but thanks to patient handling from Dettori, crept up on early leader Analyze It and challengers Divisidero and Mustashry. When swinging wide at the top of the turn, Dettori had a lot of work to do, but encouraged Expert Eye confidently for a fast-closing half-length win.
Stoute admitted to NBC cameras after the race that Dettori had him a little frightened early, but everything came right by the end.
“He got there just in time,” Stoute said with a smile.
The win is the 13th Breeders' Cup victory (and trademark flying dismount) for Dettori. It's the sixth Breeders' Cup win for Juddmonte, and the eighth for Stoute.
“He broke well but he took a false step and I had to go to Plan B,” said Dettori, who suspected the colt may have needed some distance to get ahold of the turf. “I went four wide all the way, which seems to be the place to be. As we go into the straight, I asked him to pick up, and the response wasn't there for about 100 meters, I felt we were going to be a good fifth, and then he just managed to find his rhythm, and I could see the leaders stopping, and asked him for a next step, and yeah, in the last 100 yards he really got down and sprinted home. Yeah, I mean, I went from despair to joy in the space of 100 yards.”
Expert Eye is a homebred for Juddmonte Farm and came to the race out of a third-place effort in the G1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. His previous credits include the G3 City of York, G3 Jersey and the G2 Qatar Vintage Stakes. The Mile is the first American start for the 3-year-old colt.
Expert Eye is by Acclamation (GB) out of Dansili (GB) mare Exemplify.
Favored Oscar Performance got off to a poor start and finished last.
Expert Eye paid $13.80. There was a tight cluster of contenders for place and show, with Catapult coming second and pacesetter Analyze It hanging on for third. The final time for the mile was 1:39.80.
Dettori will be on European super filly Enable for the Breeders' Cup Turf. When asked by NBC's Donna Barton Brothers about his nerves ahead of the highly-anticipated race, he said, “Let's bring it on.”
See the full chart for the Mile here.
Runners Up Quotes:
Second-place jockey Drayden Van Dyke (Catapult) – “He broke sharp and put me in a good spot on the first turn. I had a clear trip from there on out. He gave me a good kick on the far turn, passed (Analyze It) late but couldn't hold off the one on the outside (Expert Eye) in the last couple of jumps.”
Third-place trainer Chad Brown (Analyze It) – “He ran really well – he ran super. I thought Irad (Ortiz Jr.) executed a good race. The horse showed a lot of heart down the line. He just kept fighting on and just came up a little short. We're proud of his effort.”
Third-place jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. (Analyze It) – “The horse was training so good. He broke good and he just ran a big race and got third. He ran his heart out. He ran so good and fought the whole way. A horse moved a little early on the backside and it didn't bother him. He came running. He's a 3-year-old and we have a great future with him.”
Fourth-place trainer Kelly Rubley (Divisidero) –“We have been pointing to this race all year. I am not disappointed; he ran a spectacular race. That is his personality; he tries every time. He has no idea that he was in the Breeders' Cup. Our big test for this race was (supposed to be the Shadwell Turf Mile on Oct. 6) at Keeneland but he got scratched at the gate. We are very proud of this effort today.”
Fourth-place jockey Jevian Toledo (Divisidero) – “I got into good position in the beginning after breaking from the outside. I let him pick it up early to get into position and I was kind of outside, but that's better for him because he likes it out there. He ran so hard and he likes this track. Today he just ran so hard. I have no complaints. The other horse just came running at the end, so we have no excuse. It feels great to ride in my first Breeders' Cup race. I'm better with that kind of horse. He always comes running hard and giving percent.”
Jockey Jose Ortiz (Oscar Performance, beaten favorite, 14th) – “He completely missed the break. He's been breaking a step slow lately, but not as bad as today. Today, he almost stood there after the gate opened. Game over after that.”
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