Last year was a Breeders’ Cup unlike anything else that we had seen previously. It was held during the midst of the COVID pandemic, which meant that fans were missing from the track.
However, international horses still were shipped to Keeneland for the action, with 47 in total making the journey.
Ten of those were from the yard of leading Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien. But, who were the four standout winners from the Breeders’ Cup in 2020, and could they return to defend their title this year?
Authentic- Breeders’ Cup Classic
The Breeders’ Cup Classic was once again the big race of the meeting, and there was a very popular winner of the race in 2020. Authentic was rode to glory by John Velazquez in the featured race of the meeting. It was the first time that the three-year-old had come up against horses older than him, and it was star-studded field of equine stars in competition.
Among those were Tiz the Law, Maximum Security and Improbable. However, none of them had the ability to get near Authentic, who eventually won by just over two lengths from Improbable.
It was a history-making achievement for the horse, who capped his three-year-old campaign off with Breeders’ Cup success to join the Kentucky Derby win that he had recorded earlier in the year. However, we won’t see Authentic again this year, as he was retired following the win at Keeneland.
Essential Quality- Juvenile
Last year we saw the birth of a new star in the world of US racing, as Essential Quality claimed a first Grade 1 win in the final race on the Friday. It was an excellent race in prospect, with his main rival expected to be Jackie’s Warrior, who has previously won the Saratoga Special Stakes and Champagne Stakes.
However, despite a relatively poor run throughout the race, Essential Quality was able to get over the line to win by three-quarters of a length from Hot Rod Charlie. His final pace down the stretch was eye-catching, and immediately saw him favoured for the Kentucky Derby.
This year, Essential Quality will be the one to watch in the featured race, as he is favoured by many to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Order of Australia- Mile
Aidan O’Brien had an extremely good time at the Breeders’ Cup last year, but his biggest winner came in the Mile. Order of Australia was stepped back in trip for the Breeders’ Cup, and was a huge outsider to claim victory, as he was as high as 74/1 with some bookmakers.
Preparation for the race was far from ideal, as there was a jockey change at the last minute, with Christophe Soumillion testing positive for COVID. His replacement Pierre-Charles Boudot made no mistake in the race itself, as he took the lead inside the final furlong before holding off the late challenge from Circus Maximus to claim victory. Order of Australia will return to the Breeders’ Cup this year for the Mile, but will face tough competition from Palace Pier and Poetic Flare.
Also on the turf, we will see Tarnawa return to the United States to attempt to regain his title. Once again Soumillion wasn’t able to ride Tarnawa after testing positive for COVID, which meant that Colin Keane took the ride.
Tarnawa was the second favourite in the betting for the race, and after a less than ideal start, he hit his form when switched wide.
Soon enough, he overtook Channel Maker with 150 yards to go, eventually winning by a length. Tarnawa looks set to return to the United States in November, depending on how he performs in The Arc at Longchamp on the first weekend in October.
He is currently valued to win the Turf in November, but strong contenders such as Mishriff, Snowfall and Adayar could be best placed to challenge.
There you have it, some of the most memorable winners of the last edition of the Breeders Cup. Don’t forget that the 2022 competition happens already in November and you can click here for the latest Breeders’ Cup odds.