European-trained runners swept the three turf races on the first day of the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Keeneland, with Meditate’s emphatic success in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf – Aidan O’Brien’s first win in the race – the highlight of an excellent evening for the visiting team in Kentucky.
O’Brien completed a double when his colt Victoria Road edged out Charlie Appleby’s Silver Knott in the Juvenile Turf, while Appleby had earlier set a new Breeders’ Cup record by winning the fourth consecutive race at the meeting in which he saddled a runner, as Mischief Magic found an exceptional turn of pace to win the Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Meditate was held up towards the back of the field by Ryan Moore from a tricky draw in stall 10, before storming into the lead in the home straight on the way to a two-and-a-half length defeat of Pleasant Passage.
“I was following a filly I didn’t want to be following,” Moore said, “but the pace was slow, so that brought me far enough. She had them covered very quickly and the race was over a furlong-and-a-half out. I felt she had a lot left [and] she was probably just a level above all of them really.”
O’Brien and Moore completed their double by just a nose, and perhaps with luck running on their side too, as Victoria Road beat Silver Knott by a nose in the Juvenile Turf.
William Buick was forced to wait for running room on Silver Knott in the straight while Victoria Road found a clear run on the outside. Buick eventually squeezed through against the rail but he went down by a nose in a head-bobbing finish.
Appleby and Buick were on the board earlier on the card, however, as Mischief Magic flew past the leaders in the closing stages to win the Juvenile Turf Sprint by a length.
“It sort of opened up just as we turned into the straight on the inside,” Buick said afterwards.
“I had to switch out and pick my run, but he was always full of running and it was really only a matter of getting the split and for him to finish it off. When he switched leads, he just flew.”
Appleby’s success with Mischief Magic followed wins for Modern Games, Space Blues and Yibir in the Juvenile Turf, Mile and Turf respectively at last year’s Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar.
In the card’s two races on dirt, Wonder Wheel gave her rider, Tyler Gaffalione, his first win at the Breeders’ Cup in the Juvenile Fillies, while Forte was an impressive winner of the Juvenile for Todd Pletcher, beating the hot favourite, Cave Rock, with a powerful run up the stretch.