British Idiom wins stretch battle with Donna Veloce to take Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies
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Stuart Grant said he could “bang on for donkey’s years” after the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Friday at Santa Anita. He had every right, for the filly who inspired his witty reply, British Idiom, had just won the division’s championship race, completing an unbeaten season that undoubtedly will bring her an Eclipse Award.

“Who doesn’t love a British idiom?” he said of picking a name inspired by some British friends of his.

Well, certainly not those connected to the 2-year-old filly, nor those who backed her on Friday. British Idiom ($7.40), the second choice, wore down favored Donna Veloce in a long stretch drive to prevail by a neck, her third win without a defeat, each win at a different track.

Bast finished 1 3/4 lengths farther back in third, then came, in order, Perfect Alibi, Wicked Whisper, Lazy Daisy, Comical, K P Dreamin, and Two Sixty.

Grant, who races as Elkstone Group, owns British Idiom in a partnership that includes Michael Dubb, the Madeket Stables of Sol Kumin, and the Bethlehem Stables of Mike Caruso. They acquired British Idiom for a bargain $40,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton in October 2018 on the advice of bloodstock agent Liz Crow.

British Idiom, a daughter of Flashback, won her debut sprinting in August at Saratoga, then in her second and most-recent start captured the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland. That two-turn experience proved pivotal.

Donna Veloce only had one race under her girth, but it was so impressive her connections decided to give her a chance in the Juvenile Fillies, even though she would be making her two-turn debut in a race of this magnitude. No horse has ever won a Breeders’ Cup route race off one prior start, but she nearly pulled it off.

A hot pace was anticipated, and it materialized, but not with all the expected participants. Two Sixty, Bast, and Wicked Whisper all went quickly into the first turn, speeding through the opening quarter in 22.71 seconds. Donna Veloce, who started from the rail and figured to be part of the pace, was behind horses into the first turn, then worked out a stalking trip under a clever ride from Flavien Prat.

British Idiom “got bounced around” early, jockey Javier Castellano said, but since she figured to come from off the pace, it was not a serious issue.

“It was a hot pace. I wasn’t in a rush,” Castellano said.

As the field neared the far turn, following a torrid half-mile in 46.02 seconds, Two Sixty began to yield, and Donna Veloce loomed up outside Bast and Wicked Whisper, with British Idiom now making up ground, too.

“She was maybe a little farther back than I thought, but they were going fast,” said Brad Cox, who trains British Idiom.

The leaders passed the midway point on the far turn in 1:11.93 for six furlongs, and the early pace was taking a toll. Donna Veloce hit the front just outside the eighth pole, but British Idiom got the best of her late, with a final time of 1:47.07 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 79, the second lowest in the history of the race.

Both Castellano and Prat thought the difference was that British Idiom had two races, one around two turns, and Donna Veloce only had the one sprint.

“Education is important with young horses,” Castellano said. “My filly got to go two turns for the first time in the Alcibiades. The other only had only run one time.”

Prat said it was simply a matter of “first time going a mile and sixteenth for my filly, the other filly had gone a mile and a sixteenth before.”

Simon Callaghan, who trains Donna Veloce, said he could “only be extremely proud of the way she ran.”

British Idiom will be the second Eclipse Award winner trained by Cox, who trained the 2018 champion 3-year-old filly, Monomoy Girl, for a similar ownership group. British Idiom’s major goal next spring will the Kentucky Oaks, which Monomoy Girl won in 2018.

Cox said British Idiom is similar to Monomoy Girl in that they “have a similar mindset.”

“This filly has handled everything really well,” he said. “This was her first time on a plane.

British Idiom won’t race again this year. She’ll head with Cox this winter to Fair Grounds, where Cox is based.

“Fair Grounds has produced a lot of Kentucky Oaks winners, so I think she’ll take a similar path to Monomoy Girl,” said Cox, who said he’d first discuss plans with the ownership group.

Bob’s your uncle.

 

Courtesy of Daily Racing Form

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