Aidan O’Brien set a new record at the Breeders’ Cup this weekend to cement his status as one of the best horse racing trainers of all time.
Auguste Rodin romped to an impressive victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Saturday to make O’Brien the first trainer to win the same race at the meetings seven times.
The Irish handler has made no secret of the esteem in which he holds Auguste Rodin and the horse produced a brilliant performance under jockey Ryan Moore to seal the win.
The son of Japanese superstar Deep Impact out of Group 1-winning Galileo mare Rhododendron is bred in the purple, but his road to the top has not been plain sailing.
He was well-backed to win the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this season, but ran poorly after a troubled passage early in the race.
However, fans of horse racing betting in Ireland who kept the faith were rewarded as Auguste Rodin subsequently claimed impressive victories in the English and Irish Derbies.
He then ran a lifeless race in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot before bouncing back to win the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
O’Brien immediately nominated the Breeders’ Cup Turf as the horse’s next target and the decision proved to be inspired as he left his rivals trailing at Santa Anita.
“It was incredible and Ryan had incredible confidence in him,” O’Brien told Racing TV. “Ryan had faith in him and you can see the pace he has. He doesn’t do much when he gets in front, which was a little worry, but he’s a super horse.
“During the week I couldn’t believe how he was cantering on the dirt and I asked myself if we’d done the right thing and should we have been in the Classic.”
The victory was O’Brien’s 18th career success at the Breeders’ Cup – a remarkable record considering the difficulties involved in sending horses to compete overseas.
Moore, who was recording his 14th Breeders’ Cup win aboard the talented three-year-old, received plenty of praise after the race for keeping his cool during the contest.
Auguste Rodin started well before being squeezed for room, but Moore refused to panic and got his rewards as the horse powered clear down the stretch.
“Horses were all over the place and there was no rhythm early, and all I wanted to do was get him into a rhythm,” Moore said.
“I wasn’t able to do that and I was caught back further than ideal, so thought I had to do something a bit different as it was going to be hard to come around them, but we went to one of the last resorts and we got a lovely run round.
“He got to the front quickly and then he waited, as he always does. He’s been an unbelievable horse and we’ve always thought the world of him. He’s got a special pedigree and we thought this was the perfect race for him.
“He’s a brave horse who has won a Group 1 as a two-year-old, a Derby, an Irish Derby, an Irish Champion Stakes and it was a deep field, but Aidan had him in unbelievable shape. He’s been a pleasure to ride and I’ve enjoyed every minute of him.”
O’Brien and Moore teamed up for another winner on the opening day of the meeting, with Unquestionable leading home a talented field in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
The horse was due to be ridden by Frankie Dettori, but he was replaced by Moore when stablemate River Tiber was controversially scratched by the vets in the run-up to the race.
Mountain Bear completed a memorable one-two for the stable under jockey Dylan’s McMonagle, but was subsequently taken to the on-course equine hospital after reportedly sustaining a fracture.
However, the injury is reportedly not life-threatening and Mountain Bear is expected to make a full recovery in around four weeks.
O’Brien was out of luck with his other runners at Santa Anita, with Warm Heart’s narrow defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Turf the nearest he came to adding to his tally.
The three-year-old was driven into the lead by Moore in the final 150 yards, but had no answer as Dettori overhauled them aboard Inspiral to win by a neck.