On Saturday, Chester and Mary Broman’s homebred Bar of Gold overcame long odds to pull off one of the biggest upsets in Breeders’ Cup World Championships history when she closed her career in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint at 66-1.
Trained throughout her career by John Kimmel, Bar of Gold entered the Breeders’ Cup with more than $1 million in lifetime earnings and was undefeated against New York-bred company, including a 1 ¼-length win in the Yaddo on the turf at Saratoga Race Course this summer. However, five of her six career wins came over a wet track. She was winless in 11 tries over a dry dirt track and lacked a single graded stakes to her credit, despite eight placings in 15 graded starts.
But on one of North American racing’s biggest stages this weekend at Del Mar, Bar of Gold’s luck took a dramatic turn when, with a ground-saving trip under leading New York rider Irad Ortiz, Jr., she exploded from the back of the pack to get a nose over Ami’s Mesa in what was scheduled to be her last start before retirement.
The 5-year-old mare by Medaglia d’Oro became only the third New York-bred to win a Breeders’ Cup race, following Dayatthespa in the 2014 Filly & Mare Turf and London Bridge in the 2013 Marathon, and triggered the highest payout in the history of the Filly & Mare Sprint, returning $135.40 for a $2 win wager. Only 1993 Classic winner Arcangues came in at higher odds in a Breeders’ Cup race when he returned $269.20.
“She’s always been just an amazing filly to be around,” said Kimmel, who won his first Breeders’ Cup. “Not only her personality but her ability on the track. In the mornings, she’s displayed an incredible amount of talent. To me, she’s been the epitome of class. She doesn’t get upset. She’s never turned a hair. Even though she’s won some restricted stakes, we thought sometimes that she just hadn’t put it all together at the right time. She had some rough trips and some rough rides, but there was never any doubt to me that she could put it all together and she’s had a great rapport with Irad.
“After the race, someone asked me, how do you explain that she’s never won on a dry dirt track, and my response was that it’s been a curious situation for us,” he added. “I only breeze her on a dry dirt track and she’s absolutely phenomenal with how she handles it. It just really hadn’t translated to a victory on the same surface. I’ve always said I thought she could handle the dirt, but the record speaks for itself. She was five for six on an off racetrack going into the Spinster, which was kind of a disappointing race and it made it more difficult to evaluate the next step. Irad breezed her when she got back to New York and he said she felt phenomenal, so that was when we made the decision to go. If Irad wasn’t open in the Filly & Mare Sprint, we probably wouldn’t have gone.”
Bar of Gold will join the Bromans’ broodmare band in New York, said Chester Broman. Now armed with that once-elusive Grade 1 win, she retires with a 7-6-4 record from 25 starts and lifetime earnings of $1,551,000.
“She was training well and the jockey rode a tremendous race,” said Broman. “Whatever we did, it worked out. There were so many speed horses in that race, they wore themselves out, but you can’t predict what’s going to happen in a race, how everything will unfold, but I thought Irad did everything right. The plan was that this was her last race and it couldn’t have been better.”
Other New York-based jockeys also fared well in the Breeders’ Cup with Hall of Famer John Velazquez being the only jockey to win two races in this year’s World Championships, piloting Grade 1 Personal Ensign heroine Forever Unbridled to victory in the Longines Distaff and Grade 1 Fourstardave winner World Approval in the Mile. With 15 Breeders’ Cup victories, Velazquez is now tied with Jerry Bailey with the second-most wins behind Mike Smith’s 26.
Fellow Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, named the Eclipse Award winner for outstanding jockey in 2013-2016, won his eighth Breeders’ Cup in the Juvenile Fillies Turf aboard Rushing Fall for New York-based trainer Chad Brown en route to earning his first Bill Shoemaker Award, given to the outstanding jockey of the Breeders’ Cup.
Brown also saddled budding star Good Magic to solid score in the Sentient Jet Juvenile, ridden by Jose Ortiz, who picked up his second Breeders’ Cup.
One of the most impressive competitors in New York this year was Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimney Farm’s Gun Runner, who dominated the Breeders’ Cup competition with a 2 ¼-length victory in the $6 million Classic. Based this summer at Saratoga Race Course with Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, the leading Horse of the Year candidate posted back-to-back Grade 1 wins at the Spa in the Whitney and Woodward.
While not based in New York, other Breeders’ Cup winners made appearances on the NYRA circuit, with Grade 1 Frizette runner-up Caledonia Road taking the 14 Hands Winery Juvenile Fillies to give trainer Ralph Nicks his first Breeders’ Cup; and Stormy Liberal, who returned from a 147-day layoff (the longest in Breeders’ Cup history) following his eighth-place finish in the Grade 3 Jaipur at Belmont to win the Turf Sprint under Joel Rosario.