Friday 24 November 2017

Punch-up mars Breeders' opener

Enrico Garcia

THERE was an explosive start to the Breeders' Cup last night when fists flew after the Breeders' Cup Marathon as two jockeys had an astonishing winner's enclosure punch-up.

Following a contest won by American stayer Eldaafer (12/1), leading US riders Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano traded blows after the roughest of races.

While British raider Precision Break and Aidan O'Brien's Bright Horizon both finished a long way out of the money in eighth and 11th, it was what happened after the race that attracted all the headlines.

Castellano's mount Prince Will I Am (6/1) was disqualified from second after the jockey caused interference when edging out on the home bend, and then appeared to direct a short jab in the direction of Borel after he squared up to him in a crowded winner's enclosure.

Castellano's action incensed Borel, who attempted to grapple with him and then had to be restrained for some time before being dragged away in the direction of the jockeys' room.

During the fracas, Borel was heard to say: "I'll kill you in one second."

Speaking after the incident, Castellano said: "He came straight to me, he was very aggressive, and tried to hit me in the face. I had to push him away, he cursed right in my face. He said 'I want to kill you', and all that kind of stuff."

In the race itself, the John Velazquez-ridden Eldaafer powered clear of Prince Will I Am and the front-running Gabriel's Hill, but Precision Break, who raced second until leaving the back straight, faded badly.

Giant Oak, the 5/1 favourite, was promoted to third following the interference.

American runners also dominated the Juvenile Fillies Turf, with Todd Pletcher's More Than Real proving too strong for hot favourite Winter Memories.

O'Brien's Together fared best of the European raiders in fifth, with Brian Meehan's Quiet Oasis, Richard Hannon's Tale Untold and the John Gosden-trained Flood Plain all failing to get involved in the finish.

Meehan's Theyskens Theory could only finish sixth as Awesome Feather kept her unbeaten record in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Europe's misery continued when Henry Cecil's Midday failed to retain her Filly & Mare Turf crown, going down by a neck to Shared Account.

Midday was bidding to emulate Ouija Board in winning the prestigious race for the second time, but suffered a trouble passage under Tom Queally. When she did find space, she was unable to reel in the Edgar Prado-ridden winner.

Irish Independent

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