Sunday's Breeders' Cup Recap - Kate Miller
Kate Miller brings us her final thoughts from Churchill Downs
Once again I have fallen a little bit more in love with the America Racing circuit. Churchill Downs, so different to Santa Anita, has provided another remarkable chapter in the story of the Breeders' Cup - and I was fortunate enough to be in attendance to witness it live.
The track here today, guarded under the watchful eyes of the twin spires resembled a curious hybrid of Kumbh Mela, a Harvest Festival, and a pop concert. Zenyatta banners, candied apples, and Dos Eqqus beers all jostling for position amongst the crowd.
These are the types of days where you wish you'd bought shares in cotton. The merchandising stores were doing rapid turnarounds on t-shirts, caps, sweaters, and just about anything with the bright purple of the Breeders' Cup emblazoned on it. I've never seen men so willing opt to put such a girly colour on their bodies and heads.
Despite a three-fold representation in the opening race - The Juvenile Turf - we were left bereft of silverware as Pluck stormed down the outside to grab victory in comfortable fashion.
I thought the Sprints passed through as uneventfully as B.C races could with a fantastic front-running ride by Eibar Coa aboard Big Drama, and then Chamberlain Bridge collaring a brave Central City in the shadows of the post.
Back home in England we have a horse that has set the Juvenile division alight named Frankel. Quite clearly, he has the honour of carrying the torch for the late, peerless, Bobby Frankel - so it is only fitting that he should already look like becoming a great.
It seems that you all might have your own Frankel too in the form of Uncle Mo. Who produced a spine-tingling performance in the Juvenile where he obliterated a small, yet select field. We've now installed him as the 3-1 favourite for the Kentucky Derby. And whilst I'm aware that Juvenile winners don't have the best record in the Kentucky Derby, this fella has already won here at Churchill - just as Street Sense did in 2006 en-route to his Derby win.
And then the reason for our European baron spell was finally unveiled. Our tale was not to be about Juvenile, Sprint, or Filly and Mare Turf winners, it was simply just meant to be golden.
Goldikova - never bettered in her two Breeders' Cup starts piled home for her third consecutive win in the Mile. A modern champion becomes a legend of a lifetime.
An unashamed romantic I held my own well without tears, until the footage of her groom appeared on the TV in the Press Room after the race. Cutting a tiny figure standing alone in the middle of the Dirt course he saw her launch her blistering attack from two furlongs out and then he wound up his own celebrations.
Whooping, skipping, and bounding up the dirt track he covered the ground almost quickly as she, watching as his charge returned home to be crowned the first ever triple Breeders' Cup winner.
Sublime stuff and even the hardiest of hacks occupying the corner in the Press Room were bathed in smiles.
After centuries of sports feuding, and pointless jabs at each Nation's shortcomings, Anglo-Gallic relations are not always warm, but we Brits hold a special place in our hearts for the Head family.
Freddie - famed for his 80's exploits aboard Miesque is enchantingly sincere and seemed on the cusp of tears when asked to comment on Goldikova throughout the week. Heaven knows how he'll be if the team return for a fourth crack in 2011 - which connections have yet to rule out. We've quoted her as a 7-2 chance to make it a quartet of wins again next year, and you simply can't discount it. Freddie has encapsulated her beautifully with just three little words. ‘Le Dame D'assier' - The Iron Lady.
The Dirt Mile shamefully passed me by in a blur but the victory press conference from Dakota Phone's connections was of amusing interest. Whilst not descending to the fisticuffs of yesterday, it was clear the owners could not agree on the next target for their five-year-old, and some sharp words were exchanged.
A depleted field lined-up for the Breeders' Cup Turf where Workforce instead paced inside the European barn instead of on the track. It is fair to say it was not a magnificent renewal of a race that has gifted us some incredible runnings over the years.
However the record books don't show the ‘also rans' they simply list the winners, and Dangerous Midge, under an unbelievable Dettori ride was crowned the 2010 Breeders' Cup Turf Champion. I didn't fancy him, and at times throughout the week I was bordering on rude about his chances. As the famous Monkees song famously chirrups, I simply wasn't a ‘believer'. How wrong I was.
Onwards time strode and it was soon almost the main event. Crowds thronged the route from the Barns to the track where Zenyatta would walk as a setting sun made the skies blush around Churchill Downs. She appeared almost tetchy in the preliminaries pawing the ground and tossing her head as the crowd cheered only for her, reducing the runners to mere bridesmaids for the pre-race procession.
Then suddenly they were off, and the field charged past with Zenyatta trailing in their wake by a dozen lengths as they passed the stands. The rest of the race will be well documented and discussed, but the ground she ate-up making up those lost twenty lengths in the final half-mile were amongst the greatest moments of sport I have ever witnessed. Mike Smith - clearly panicking gave her little time to respond to his urgings yet still she gained on the leader. To fail to reel him in by just a short-head was heart-breaking.
Mike Smith - devastated in the post-race interviews - could not contain his emotions taking full responsibility for her defeat. Only the hardest of souls was fail to feel for him, no punishment was needed.
Zenhyatta, now beaten for the first time in 20 races was still crowned the moral winner, how bitterly ironic that the actual winner should be named ‘Blame'.
Many Breeders' Cup can boast a similar story. Frankie Dettori - aboard Swain in 1998 cried after defeat in the Classic. Jockeys are human, mistakes happen, and yet the earth will continue to turn.
In less than 24-hours time I will be boarding my plane back to London, and weaving my way back to reality and the world of National Hunt racing. From Kentucky - the spiritual home of American flat racing - to Cheltenham - the home of National Hunt Racing in the space of a week.
I could never understand the fuss about the Breeders' Cup before I saw if for myself. Colleagues eulogised about it as a standalone event unrivalled by anything else internationally. After another day of pure gold my transformation is complete. My name is Kate Miller, and I'm a Breeders' Cup convert.