By Margaret Ransom
The FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1T), presented by the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), typically draws an exceptional world-class field featuring the best grass milers from around the globe. Seventeen of the 38 winners have come from abroad and a handful of others have been represented by American connections after having raced previously in other countries.
Though inaugural winner Royal Heroine had been training in California with then-British transplant John Gosden, she began her career in Europe and won several races in her career, though her Breeders’ Cup score was her most famous and earned her an Eclipse Award as North America’s best female turf performer.
Other Europeans to have won the Mile include Last Tycoon (1986), Miesque (1987, 1988), Royal Academy (1990), Barathea (1994), Ridgewood Pearl (1995), Spinning World (1997), Domedriver (2002), Six Perfections (2003), Goldikova (2008, 2009, 2010), Karakontie (2014), Expert Eye (2018), Order of Australia (2020) and Space Blues (2021).
There is no Eclipse Award for champion miler, so many of the winners of this race have earned regular turf award honors, including the lone three-time winner Goldikova, who was crowned Eclipse champion female turf horse in 2009 and 2010; two-time Mile winner and Hall of Famer Miesque, who was champion female turf horse (1987, 1988); World Approval (2017), who was that year’s champion male turf horse; and fellow two-time winner Wise Dan (2012, 2013), who was also honored as Horse of the Year in both years and also the division winner for older male and older male turf horse.
The two remaining two-time winners are Hall of Fame member Lure (1992, 1993) and Da Hoss (2005, 2007), who passed away at the ripe old age of 30 earlier this year and just three weeks shy of his official 30th birthday.
Though last year’s winner, Space Blues, headed off to stud duty following his victory at Del Mar, the 2020 winner, Order of Australia, is back to the scene of the crime after missing last year’s race due to injury. While prepping in Ireland for the World Championships a year ago, the Aidan O’Brien-trained son of Australia was injured and underwent surgery to repair a fracture. Initially retired, the Coolmore colorbearer returned this year to race six times, picking up a single victory but placing in a handful of graded/group stakes.
Olvier Peslier, the regular rider for the late Goldikova (2008-2010), and Hall of Famer John Velazquez (1998, 2012, 2017) lead all riders with three wins each. Goldikova’s trainer, former jockey Freddy Head, is the race’s leading trainer with her three victories to his credit.
The stakes record, though run at different tracks, is the 1:31.71 that Tourist clocked at Santa Anita in 2016.