A thrilling weekend at Del Mar for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup was defined by controversy, amazing performances, historic firsts, and unpredictable upsets. Over the two days, the best horses in the world settled debates over who was the best in each of the divisions at the juvenile and adult level. On Friday, we saw super-filly Echo Zulu put on a dominant display and lay claim to being the early favorite for the 2022 Kentucky Oaks and perhaps even fuel speculation that she’s fast enough to run against the boys. Meanwhile, Bob Baffert’s Corniche easily dispatched the TVG Juvenile field with a front-running performance that was made easier by the scratch of Jack Christopher. However, it also opens up more controversy since the horse did not earn any points toward next year’s Kentucky Derby because of the suspension of its trainer, Bob Baffert, from Churchill Downs. And the evening closed with a debacle that saw Modern Games improperly scratched and then placed back in the race for purse money only and then saw the horse easily win, which angered bettors whose winning tickets were voided because of a little known rule.
Saturday got off to a wild start with heavy favorites Gamine, Jackie’s Warrior, and Letruska all falling due to being pressed into blistering early speed fractions by their competitors. It also produced two of the most thrilling finishes in recent memory with Aloha West nosing out Dr. Schivel with a late rally and then later Japanese horse Marche Lorraine edged out Dunbar Road by less than a nostril in an exciting stretch run. Of course, the final race produced high drama as Knicks Go asserted his dominance and laid claim to Horse of the Year honors by easily winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic over Medina Spirit and Essential Quality. Get my full recap of all the races on the podcast or on YouTube.