I have been to 33 Kentucky Derbys, 27 Final Fours, three World Series, two Summer Olympics,, two NBA Finals, one Super Bowl, the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, and Fiesta Bowl. But whenever anybody asks me about my favorite annual event on the sports calendar, the answer is always the same: the Breeders’ Cup.
My only regret is that, once it starts, I can’t pause it on occasion to savor the moments. By the time one of the 14 championship races over two days ends, it always seems like the post parade is underway for the next one.
I missed the first one in 1984 at Hollywood Park, but attended every one from 1985 to 2011. Superstorm Sandy got me in 2012 as planes were grounded most of that week and I could not get to Los Angeles. I did not make it the next year either or in 2016. Other than those four years, I have been at every Breeders’ Cup. This will be miss number five.
This will be the Breeders’ Cup that just about everyone that is not a participant will miss. But I will be at Keeneland vicariously and I won’t miss a minute on television Friday or Saturday, from the Juvenile Turf Sprint right through the Classic.
Santa Anita and Churchill Downs have played host the most times. This will be Keeneland’s second Cup after American Pharoah left everyone searching for adjectives in 2015.
I always enjoyed the Cup at old Gulfstream Park. It is a shame it has not been at Belmont Park since 2005. Hollywood Park is the only Cup track that is no longer a track, having been torn down to make way for the spectacular new football stadium where the Rams and Chargers play. Few remember anymore that the second Cup was at Aqueduct. It was a little drab and dingy that day, but the racing was, as always, sensational.
Aqueduct is among the tracks that have hosted just once. They also include Woodbine (1996), Arlington (2002), Lone Star (2004), Monmouth Park (2007), Keeneland and Del Mar (2017). I have special memories of everyone.
The Cup returns to Del Mar next year and then back to Keeneland in 2022. If you said it could be only once placed, I would vote for Santa Anita. It’s big enough that it doesn’t feel crowded. The San Gabriel Mountains backdrop is spectacular. And the weather is always wonderful.
Parx, of course, has become a major Breeders’ Cup player the last few years with Jaywalk winning the Juvenile Fillies in 2018 and Spun to Run the Dirt Mile last year. Vequist won’t be favored in the Juvenile Fillies Friday, but she has a big chance against a terrific field.
It won’t be the same without being there, but the good news will be that the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup were held in 2020. And they will be held in 2021, hopefully with huge crowds again.
FOREWARNED DOES IT AGAIN
When Uriah St. Lewis purchased Forewarned for $40,000 in December 2018, the 3-year-old had four wins and three seconds in 11 starts, all racing on the Ohio circuit (Thistledown, Belterra Park, Mahoning Valley).
The now 5-year-old horse has raced 19 times since the purchase. Based at Parx with his owner/trainer, Forewarned has run at his home track seven times, Aqueduct, Saratoga, Belmont Park, Laurel, Pimlico, and Charles Town. The horse has run in such prestigious races as the Whitney, Woodward, Cigar Mile, and Pimlico Special. He has also returned three times to Ohio where he was born.
Last October, Forewarned was at Mahoning Valley for the $150,000 Best of Ohio Endurance Stakes. Running against Ohio breds instead of horses like McKinzie and Vino Rosso and going off at 7-5 instead of prices like 89-1, 97-1, and 135-1, Forewarned, running at a mile and quarter, won convincingly by 2 3/4 lengths.
Saturday, a year after that last visit to Mahoning Valley, Forewarned did it again in the same race. Sent off at 1-1 and coming from well off the pace, Forewarned hooked up with fellow Ohio bred Wicked Warrior at the top of the stretch and the pair raced together for the wire, Forewarned eventually prevailing by a half-length. The third horse was 12 3/4 lengths behind.
So that $40,000 purchase has now earned $380,920 in his two years with St. Lewis. Like most of the trainer’s horses, Forewarned does not have much early speed, but endurance is never an issue, the farther the better.
And you will know right where to look for Forewarned in late October 2021 _ at Mahoning Valley against those Ohio breds going for a threepeat.