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Breeders’ Cup replacement riders thrive after virus changes

Irish-bred Tarnawa storms down the homestretch past pace-setter Channel Maker and holds off Magical to win the $4 million Breeders' Cup Turf.

When Colin Keane got a last-minute mount on Tarnawa in the Breeders’ Cup Turf because regular jockey Christophe Soumillon tested positive for the coronavirus, he called training great Dermot Weld to ask for a plan.

“He said, ‘We could be on the phone for half an hour trying to make a plan, but it mightn’t go to plan,”’ Keane recalled in his Irish brogue. “So he kind of left it up to me.”

It worked out well, as Tarnawa was one of three horses to win a Breeders’ Cup race Saturday with a replacement jockey aboard. Ioritz Mendizabal tested positive overseas, Soumillion had to leave Keeneland on Friday after his COVID-19 test came back positive and Keane and French rider Pierre-Charles Boudot made the most of their opportunities in relief.

Boudot scored the biggest upset of the day in the Mile with 73-1 long shot Order of Australia, who was an eleventh-hour replacement himself after another horse was scratched. He also won the Filly & Mare Turf on Audarya.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Boudot said. “I’m very happy to be here, and I am very thankful for this day.”


Brad Cox tied the record for the most wins by a trainer at a single Breeders’ Cup with four, matching Richard Mandella’s haul in 2003.

After winning the Juvenile with Essential Quality and the Juvenile Fillies Turf with Aunt Pearl on Friday, Cox’s Knicks Go broke the track record in going wire-to-wire in the Dirt Mile and champion Monomoy Girl beat Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver and a tough field in the Distaff in likely her final race before retirement.

Cox hadn’t won a Grade 1 race when Monomoy Girl’s ownership group was introduced to him. He guided her back from an 18-month layoff at age 5, and she picked up her 13th victory in 15 lifetime starts.

Co-owner Sol Kumin said Cox told them that getting Monomoy Girl back to her peak level would be his greatest accomplishment.

“We have been lucky enough to be part of his rise, and he’s really been the key,” Kumin said. “Brad Cox has been the master, just knowing when to push, knowing when to step back, managing her career.”


Four European horses - Audarya, Order of Australia, Tarnawa and Great Britain’s Glass Slippers - were winners among the nine championship races Saturday. That has become the norm in the 1 1/2-mile Turf, but Glass Slippers at 10-1 became the first Europe-based horse to win the Turf Sprint.

“She’s a filly that thrives the second half of the year,” trainer Terry Ryan said. “She travels well. ... It’s always a tricky one, but as the week went on, we got happier and happier with her.”


Filly Swiss Skydiver, who outlasted Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Authentic in the Preakness on Oct. 3, stumbled out of the gate and finished seventh in the 10-horse field in the Distaff.

Trainer Kenny McPeek chose to run Swiss Skydiver against older fillies and mares in the Distaff rather than going against the colts in the Classic and knew this was still a possibility.

“She’s got a ladder to climb against older fillies and mares,” said McPeek, who had another horse stumble Friday. “It’s been an unlucky weekend.”