DEL MAR, Calif .– (AP) – The Corniche has a bright future as the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Whether that includes the Kentucky Derby next year remains to be seen.
The 2-year-old colt won the $ 2 million race by 1 3/4 lengths at Del Mar on Friday, assuming the role of first seed for the Derby at Churchill Downs, where his trainer, Bob Baffert, was banned.
Sent off as the 7-5 favorite, Corniche sprinted in the lead and stayed there under 56-year-old jockey Mike Smith. The 2 year old bay colt ran 1 1/16 miles in 1: 42.50.
“There’s something about the Breeders’ Cup, that for some reason takes me to another level,” said Smith, the event’s career silver leader among jockeys. “I’m 18 again and having a blast.”
Baffert was allowed to enter horses for the end-of-season world championships, but the event’s main trainer had to meet certain conditions, including more stringent out-of-competition testing of his horses and greater security in his barn. He accepted the additional examination and was required to pay for it out of his own pocket.
Baffert was banned by Churchill Downs for the 2022 and 2023 Kentucky Derby after Medina Spirit finished first this year and then failed a drug test after the race. The drugs involved are allowed in Kentucky, but not on race day. Baffert’s horses have suffered five drug test failures in the past year.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has yet to make a final decision on Medina Spirit.
“The derby is a long way off and for now I was just focusing on him to bring him here,” Baffert said of Corniche. “We’ll see how it goes. There is still a lot going on. A lot can happen by then. “
As part of his Churchill ban, Baffert’s horses are not allowed to earn points in qualifying races that help determine the 20-horse field for the Derby.
Corniche paid $ 4.80 to win. Pappacap was second and Giant Game was still 1 1/2 lengths in third. Baffert had two other riders in the race: Pinehurt was fifth and Barossa was seventh.
Jack Christopher, the 9-5 favorite, was scratched by the vet with a problem with his left shin.
All 10 races of the day – led by five Cup races for 2-year-olds – went safely on a foggy and unusually cool 60-degree (15 Celsius) day on the seaside trail north of San Diego .
In the last race of the day, Albahr was struck out of the Juvenile Turf after the 2-year-old gelding slipped into the starting grid. Initially, the crowd was told that the Modern Games 2-1 favorites were also scratched. After a delay of several minutes, it was announced that Modern Games was only working for stock market money; no bets on him were allowed.
The Modern Games won and those who bet on it had to get their money back. Fans in the crowd of 20,536 booed as the horses returned to the grandstand afterwards. Both horses are trained by Charlie Appleby.
For the first time, all 14 races of the two-day World Championships are being held without medication allowed on race day.
Peter Fluor said he and his partner KC Weiner from Speedway Stables never considered moving Corniche to another coach.
“Bob is doing a great job,” Fluor said. “We’re kind of enjoying the present moment and later on we’ll focus on that. “
Some of Baffert’s clients left him as a result of his legal problems.
“They have stayed with me and it means a lot to me,” he said of Fluor and Weiner.
Coach Christophe Clement recorded a 0-to-41 drop in the Breeders’ Cup as Pizza Bianca went from last to first in the million dollar Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Owned and bred by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, Pizza Bianca completed a mile in 1: 36.08 and paid $ 21.80 to win. Jockey Jose Ortiz made a round trip, threading the 2 year old filly through narrow openings created by the traffic of a 14 horse field.
Races will resume on Saturday with nine Cup races, topped by the $ 6 million Classic.
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and trainer Wesley Ward continued to dominate the Juvenile Turf Sprint as Twilight Gleaming led every leg of the day’s Cup opener.
Ortiz and Ward teamed up for their third straight win in the $ 1million race.
Ward had two other riders in the 12-horse field, including 9-5 frontrunner and previously undefeated Averly Jane, who finished fifth.
Instead, it was Twilight Gleaming who took matters into their own hands and pushed Go Bears Go back half a length. Kaufymaker, also coached by Ward, was third.
The filly, who faces colts for the third time in a row, has gone up to three wins in five starts for Barbara Banke of Stonestreet Stables, recently named the first female chair of the Breeders’ Cup board.
Twilight Gleaming paid $ 12.40 to win and completed five stadiums in 56.24 seconds.
Echo Zulu became the 2022 Kentucky Oaks’ first favorite with a dominant win in the $ 2 million Juvenile Fillies.
Echo Zulu took control from the start and was never threatened. She took a 5 1/4 length victory over Juju’s Map. She ran 1 1/16 miles in 1: 42.24 and $ 3.60 to win as a 4-5 favorite.
Echo Zulu improved to 4 for 4 this year while giving Rosario their 14th Cup victory.
Associated Press freelance writer Mike Farrell contributed to this report.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.