The Breeders’ Cup of 2006 more than fulfilled its promise of glorious moments of racing, but, tragically, it was also the second premier horse race of the season to involve a devastating injury. We experienced yet another reminder of the daring and dedication of both rider and steed, whose skills make racing appear effortless.
During the running of the Distaff, a breakdown by Pine Island resulted in a dislocated ankle and required immediate euthanization of the three-year old filly. Jockey Edgar Prado, who road Round Pond to victory in the race, was somber, remembering the heartbreaking incident he endured at the Preakness only a few months earlier, aboard Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who made a career-ending though not fatal misstep.
Earlier in the day, Street Sense set a record for the Juvenile by reaching the finish line 10 lengths ahead of all his competitors. The victory instantly set Street Sense as the early favorite for the 2007 Kentucky Derby, yet that came with the caveat that in its 23 years, no winner of the Juvenile has ever won the Derby. Dreaming of Anna won the Juvenile Fillies, becoming another likely entrant in the Run for the Roses.
The Turf was won by Red Rocks, while five-year old Ouija Board took the Filly & Mare Turf, just as she had done in 2004. Thor’s Echo, a 15-to-1 shot, managed an upset win in the Sprint, while the 8-5 favorite, Henny Hughes, created a different type of upset by finishing last. The owner of Miesque’s Approval was talked into one more year before retiring the horse, whereupon the 7-year old won five of seven starts, culminating with his best ever at the Breeders’ Cup, the $2.1 million dollar Mile.
Finally, the Classic. Prior to the race, the question was, would the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic be a one-horse race, with that one horse being Preakness winner Bernardini? Not, said other voices, if any of the twelve other horses at the post had their way! The field included Lava Man, a rival from California; Brother Derek, who won the 2006 Santa Anita Derby; George Washington and David Junior, both from Europe; and, oh yes, Giacomo, who was be back to the track where he won the 2005 Kentucky Derby. In the end, the day belonged to Argentinian-bred Invasor, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose younger brother owns Bernardini. Invasor was ridden by 18-year old Fernando Jara.
The Breeders’ Cup of 2006 was held at Churchill Downs for a record sixth time. The 104 horses entered in the traditional eight races were running for stakes amounting to over $20 million. But truly, they were running because that’s what these magnificent thoroughbreds have been born and raised to do. Get your Breeders’ Cup tickets to witness the very best of the Sport of Kings and to find out who will be Horse of the Year!
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