Simply put, in the 38 runnings of the Breeders' Cup, there has never been a race like the 2021 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T). Never!

And don't believe for a moment that the Breeders' Cup, Del Mar officials, the track's stewards, veterinarians, and the betting public will have a fond memory of what happened Nov. 5 at the Southern California track in the final race of the opening-day program at the World Championships.

Maybe the fans who bet on 7-1 shot Tiz the Bomb were among those who headed home swiftly and happily. The Godolphin team, too, was certainly entitled to have a sense of pride over the courage that their homebred 2-year-old, Modern Games , displayed under adverse conditions in his United States debut.

Yet in the long view, Friday's Juvenile Turf will mostly be remembered with heads that shake in disbelief.

It started when Godolphin's Albahr , the second choice in the $920,000 race for 2-year-olds, flipped in the starting gate and, quite fortunately, came away with only minor cuts but had to be scratched.

During that incident, favored Modern Games, in the stall next to his stablemate, had his gate opened so he could be led out. Modern Games then innocently trotted out of the gate. Minutes later, the European-based runner was declared as scratched, then was allowed to run for purse money only and when he crossed the finish line a 1 1/2-length winner he was greeted with a loud chorus of boos from the crowd of 20,536 at Del Mar.

The same boos, fueled by fans' mutuel tickets that should have been winners but were converted into refunds, small consolations, or transferred onto the losing post-time favorite, returned at an even higher decibel level when Modern Games returned to the winner's circle.

"We understand that people who wagered on the race or had to change their wager would be upset," said Charlie Appleby, who trains both Modern Games and Albahr and was standing near the paddock, preparing to leave the track to check on his horses, when he heard Modern Games was being allowed to run. "For the sport, you hate to see it but the fans are here to have a fun weekend and hopefully they will still enjoy it. We'll have a better day tomorrow."

According to Scott Chaney, a former steward and executive director of the California Horse Racing Board, Modern Games was scratched when a veterinarian prematurely ruled that the colt should not be allowed to run.

The European-based Appleby said he's endured having a post-time favorite scratched in a group 1 stakes, but he's never experienced such a wild shift of emotions as he did in going from two heavily backed runners, to none, then one, only to walk away victorious.

"I can't say I've ever been involved in anything as dramatic as we saw on a world stage today," Appleby said, "but I guess it's something we can keep in our memoirs."

Trainer Ken McPeek will surely have mixed emotions about the runner-up finish of Phoenix Thoroughbred's Tiz the Bomb, who stood as the winner for pari-mutuel purposes. Though the son of Hit It a Bomb returned $17.60 to win to his backers and topped a $16,519 Pick 6 Jackpot, McPeek's Breeders' Cup record now stands at 0-for-37.

"At least I can say I was a pari-mutuel winner at the Breeders' Cup," McPeek said.

The debacle over running for purse money took away from what was an otherwise brilliant effort by Modern Games, a homebred son of Dubawi.

After the start of the race was delayed by more than 15 minutes, Modern Games and jockey William Buick were sixth in the field of 13 after three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.24. They rallied four-wide on the turn and powered to the front in deep stretch with a strong burst of speed to reach the wire in 1:34.72 for the mile on firm turf.

"(It was) a testament to the horse and William. On a big stage like that (with) quite a dramatic incident happening there in the gate, for him to compose himself and get himself back in there, and back in the mindset, and for William to (do likewise)," Appleby said. "But the horse came into the race with a lovely profile. He was a progressive 2-year-old, and he's really pleased us since he's been here. And so we were confident coming into the race that we were going to be a big player anyway."

Modern Games, a winner of four of six starts with a group win 3 in Europe, is the fourth foal from the New Approach mare Modern Ideals and her first stakes winner. She also has an Exceed And Excel yearling filly and a Mastercraftsman weanling filly.

Tiz the Bomb, winner of the Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes (G2T) in his prior start, was a neck ahead of Mackinnon , an American Pharoah colt trained by Doug O'Neill and owned by ERJ Racing, Madaket Stables, and Dave Kenney.

Dakota Gold , who was sent off as the 5-2 favorite and inherited some of the live sequence wagers from bets on Modern Games and Albahr, was fifth.

Appleby said Modern Games would return to Europe and be pointed toward the 2022 QIPCO Two Thousand Guineas (G1) at Newmarket.


courtesy of