Conrad Farms' Shamrock Rose closed to provide a 25-1 upset in the first Breeders' Cup race on Saturday's blockbuster card, capturing the Filly & Mare Sprint by a neck over Chalon (14-1). The 3-year-old daughter of First Dude, ridden by Irad Ortiz for trainer Mark Casse, covered seven furlongs over Churchill Downs' fast main track in 1:23.13 to win her fourth race in a row. Anonymity finished third at 31-1, while 4-5 favorite Marley's Freedom was a close up fourth.
“Was I surprised we won? It was a tough race, but she's a good horse,” said Casse. “I told (jockey) Irad (Ortiz Jr.) I don't know if she's good enough, but she'll give you everything she has. And, she's good. It goes back to Allen Jerkins who always said ‘run them when they're good' so we came back in two weeks.”
Golden Mischief flew out of the starting gate to have an immediate advantage heading down the chute, but Selcourt came flying up the inside to take command by two lengths in the backstretch. Meanwhile, favorite Marley's Freedom completely missed the break, and was dead last in the 14-horse field at first call.
Shamrock Rose then inherited the last-place position, trailing early fractions of :21.89 and :44.99 before she started to make her move. Ortiz asked her for run at about the half-mile pole and she began threading her way through traffic, splitting rivals at the five-sixteenths and hanging near the rail into the straight.
Chalon grabbed the lead around the far turn, and had a two-length advantage at the head of the lane. She started to tire in the final eighth, and a three-wide contingent came gunning for her in the final sixteenth of a mile.
Shamrock Rose had to wait for a hole to open up at the eighth, but gunned through it and bullied her way into the lead in the final stride to cross the wire a neck in front of Chalon. Anonymity came from behind to finish third, and Marley's Freedom was a close-up fourth.
“I let her be happy,” Ortiz said. “She settled nice for me. She was like fourth and when I dropped in and got through horses, she came running.”
Bred in Pennsylvania by Best A Luck Farm, Shamrock Rose was a $120,000 2-year-old purchase at the OBS April Sale. She broke her maiden at first asking in the Ontario Debutante Stakes, and has improved over her sophomore season to have won her last three starts ahead of the Breeders' Cup, including her first graded win in the Raven Run at Keeneland. She had to be supplemented to the Breeders' Cup (for a tag of $130,000), but rewarded her owners' faith. Overall, Shamrock Rose has won five of her 10 starts for earnings of over $950,000.
Second-place trainer Arnaud Delacour (Chalon) – “She had a great trip and Javier (Castellano) gave her a great ride. The seven-eighths (of a mile) may have been a touch too far, but you can't take anything away from her. I'm very pleased.”
Second-place jockey Javier Castlellano (Chalon) – “It was a great race. I got good position right from the start and we were going good. I thought I had a good chance coming down the stretch but she was just second best. She gave me everything she had and that was really good.”
Third-place trainer Richard Mandella (Anonymity) – “She is a little short on experience. We decided to let her settle today and she looked like she was a little bit intimidated by other horses but she came on strong.”
Third-place jockey Flavien Prat (Anonymity) – “We got caught a little wide on the final turn, but I was very happy with the way she ran. She gave it her all down the stretch and we almost got there.”
Fourth-place trainer Bob Baffert (Marley's Freedom, beaten favorite) – “She just didn't get away like she can. I am pretty disappointed. And she was pretty wide the whole way. She tried but she was just not good enough today. You have to be real good today and she was not real good. She didn't have her punch today, didn't run her race. Didn't bring her A game.”
Fourth-place jockey Mike Smith (Marley's Freedom, beaten favorite) – “She was hung out really wide and she just didn't get a hold of it and kick like she can.”
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