Tarnawa’s connections receive their Breeders’ Cup trophy and Longines watches in the winner’s circle. (Coady)
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Last Saturday saw another achievement added to the Curriculum Vitae of one of the world’s greatest trainers, Dermot Weld, as the Irish handler won his first Breeders’ Cup race at the 17th attempt. Weld, one of the earlier proponents of traveling racehorses around the world to win events at the highest level, has filled this noticeable void in a success-laden career.
Tarnawa, a four-year-old filly by Kildangan Stud sire Shamardal, bred by H H Aga Khan, gave the Master of Rosewell House, victory in the Grade 1 $4 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (1m 4f), under Irish champion rider Colin Keane. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the 1990 Grade 1 Belmont Stakes-winning handler (with the Irish-bred Go And Go) was unable to attend at Keeneland for one of his greatest wins.
His son, Mark, was present to witness Tarnawa’s victory in the richest turf race of the two-day Breeders’ Cup meeting, as the filly came wide of the field on the final bend to score a one-length success over the Aidan O’Brien-trained mare Magical.
Saturday’s win was a third consecutive victory at the highest level for the Irish-bred chestnut, a fourth straight win for the filly, her eighth success in fourteen career starts, and a third Breeders’ Cup success for The Aga Khan, as his star became just the fifth filly or mare to win the Turf.
Earlier this season, Tarnawa won both the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera at ParisLongchamp, France, before returning to the same venue on Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend to take the Group 1 Prix Vermeille. On both occasions, she was ridden by Belgian-born French-based jockey Christophe Soumillon. Sadly for the top-class international rider, he tested positive for Coronavirus before the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland, and missed the win as a result. The astute Irish trainer Weld chose dual Irish champion flat jockey and winner of the 2020 Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas aboard the Juddmonte Farms-owned Siskin, Colin Keane, as Soumillon’s deputy.
Winning rider, Keane, said of Tarnawa’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf victory: “This is a dream come true,” while Mark Weld explained that Keane had only been given simple riding instructions as “he’s not the champion jockey of Ireland for nothing.”
Breeders’ Cup Turf Replay
While the success of Tarnawa brought Dermot Weld back into focus Stateside, the 7-time Group 1 winner Magical had to settle for the runner-up spot again. In 2018, the Aidan O’Brien-trained mare was second to the now-retired super mare Enable. Magical, a daughter of Coolmore stallion Galileo, now boasts a record of 12 wins and eight seconds from 27 race starts, and has accumulated almost $6 million in career earnings.
Though Tarnawa’s season now looks at an end, with a decision still to be made as to whether she returns next year, the runner-up Magical may have one final run before her racing career finishes. Her handler Aidan O’Brien hinted yesterday that she may run in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin, next month.
“Magical is entered up in Hong Kong and there’s a possibility she could go there,” O’Brien said, before adding “we’ll see how she comes out of the race on Saturday, but she could go to Hong Kong.”
Reflecting on her performance at Keeneland, O’Brien added: “Ryan [Moore] said he got trapped in a pocket very early and the pace was very slow so he couldn’t get out. She’s best where there is an even pace and a high tempo in the early part of the race. She would have
hated the way the race was run on Saturday. She’s a high cruiser and it takes her a long time to hit full stride.”
With Magical possibly having one final opportunity to become Aidan O’Brien’s winning-most horse at Group 1 level, Tarnawa gave international racing legend Dermot Weld a precious Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup success last weekend to add to 3 American Derby victories, a win in the American Oaks, Belmont Stakes, Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes, Man o’War Stakes, Secretariat Stakes and Matriarch Stakes respectively.