By Margaret Ransom
The Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T) is contested at the distance of 1 1⁄2 miles which, along with the $4 million purse, makes it an attractive target for turf specialists from both North America and around the world. It is one of the seven initial Breeders’ Cup championship races and will be contested for the 39th time this year.
Of the 38 previous runnings, 22 have been claimed by European invaders. Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien has sent out six winners – 2002, High Chaparral; 2003, High Chaparral (DH with Johar); 2011, St. Nicholas Abbey; 2013, Magician; 2015, Found; and 2016, Highland Reel. All were owned by the Coolmore partnership of Sue Maginer, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.
Champion European jockey Frankie Dettori, who is set to spend his first winter in America at Santa Anita in California, leads all riders with five winners on his spectacular resume — 1999, Daylami; 2001, Fantastic Light; 2006, Red Rocks; 2010, Dangerous Midge; and 2018, Enable. Both Conduit (2008, 2009) and High Chaparral (2002, 2003) have won this race twice. High Chaparral dead-heated with Johar for the win in 2003 in the first and only dead heat in Breeders’ Cup history.
The fastest time for this race was the 2:22.83 mark Little Mike logged in 2012. In 2018 the recently retired Enable became the first horse to win both the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same year.
Breeders’ Cup winners who went on to win the Eclipse Award for champion turf male:
Northern Spur 1995
Chief Bearhart 1997
Buck’s Boy, 1998
Fantastic Light, 2001
High Chaparral, 2002
High Chaparral, 2003
English Channel, 2007
Main Sequence, 2014
Bricks and Mortar, 2019å
Kotashaan in 1993 and Bricks and Mortar in 2019 are the two Breeders’ Cup Turf winners to also earn American Horse of the Year honors.