Five key talking points to emerge from a spellbinding Breeders' Cup
James Thomas reflects on the action at Churchill Downs
Juddmonte bloodlines to the fore
The power of Juddmonte breeding came to the fore at Churchill Downs on Saturday as Khalid Abdullah's operation fired in two homebred winners.
Expert Eye supplied the first leg when conjuring up an irresistible late surge to claim the Mile with some authority, an effort that makes a berth at stud look assured for the well-related three-year-old.
A little over an hour later Enable became the first Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner to follow up at the Breeders' Cup in the same season when claiming the Turf – her seventh top-flight success. The winning distance may have been only three-quarters of a length, but there was an air of inevitability when she and Magical turned into the straight head to head.
Both winners are the fourth generation of their respective families to have been bred by Juddmonte and it speaks of the skill and care with which these pedigrees have been nurtured that neither is by a sire who stands for a fee among the upper echelons of the stallion market.
The pair became the fifth and sixth Juddmonte homebreds to strike at the Breeders' Cup, following Filly & Mare Turf winners Banks Hill (2001), Intercontinental (2005) and Midday (2009) and Filly & Mare Sprint scorer Ventura (2008).
Expert Eye is also the first Juddmonte-bred colt to have landed a Breeders' Cup event.
The operation has been represented by another Breeders' Cup-winning colt, as Arrogate landed the 2016 Classic. However, the son of Unbridled's Song was a rare yearling purchase by the operation, having been bought from Keeneland for $560,000.
New-look Godolphin gaining rewards
Eyebrows were raised repeatedly throughout the 2017 sales season when, with their self-imposed boycott lifted, the Godolphin buying team homed in on the stock of Coolmore stallions.
There could have been no more stunning vindication of Godolphin's shift in policy than a top-flight winner, and that is precisely what Line Of Duty provided when he powered to success in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.
He is a son of Galileo, for whom he became a 75th Group/Grade 1 winner, and the first of the sire's progeny to carry the royal blue of Godolphin to top-level victory.
There should be more to come from Line Of Duty, a 400,000gns Book 1 yearling, meaning the Charlie Appleby-trained colt looks a viable Classic contender for next season, as Godolphin look to record back-to-back Derby victories.
Sheikh Mohammed has tasted elite success with Galileo's offspring before, with New Approach winning the Derby in the colours of Princess Haya, having been purchased privately from Jim Bolger, while the New Zealand-bred Sousa won the Spring Champion Stakes in Australia in the owner's original maroon and white silks.
Lane's End on the right road
There are few better shop windows for a young colt to showcase his stallion credentials than the Breeders' Cup. But no stud will have come away from the meeting in better spirits than Lane's End, having long since secured the services of two colts who highlighted their talents on the Grade 1 stage.
It was back in August that Lane's End announced that Accelerate and City Of Light would be joining the stallion roster for the 2019 season, and both already looked interesting options, with three Grade 1 wins apiece.
But the best was yet to come, as, on a productive Saturday for Lane's End, Accelerate went on to land the Breeders' Cup Classic, shortly after City Of Light had put in a dominant performance in the Dirt Mile.
Given their respective sires, the pair look well suited to Lane's End, as Accelerate is a son of Lookin At Lucky – a son of the stud's former flagship stallion Smart Strike – while City Of Light is one of nine elite winners by current resident Quality Road, who has proved himself to be one of the world's most upwardly mobile young sires.
However, independently owned stallion prospects were in short supply elsewhere on the Breeders' Cup cards. The Turf Sprint and the Sprint went the way of six-year-old geldings, with the Peter Miller-trained pair Stormy Liberal and Roy H following up their successes from 12 months previously.
The Mile and the Turf were won by global owner-breeder Juddmonte, responsible for Expert Eye and the mighty filly Enable.
Elusive an influence for Quality
When paying tribute to Elusive Quality, who was put down due to the infirmities of old age in May, Dan Pride, chief operating officer of Godolphin in America, said: "I think we'll continue to see Elusive Quality's influence felt for quite some time, especially through the likes of successful sons like Quality Road as well as through his stakes-producing daughters."
Pride's prediction was borne out across the Breeders' Cup meeting, with Elusive Quality making his mark on both fronts. His male descendants were indeed represented by Quality Road, who has supplied three new Grade 1 winners in 2018 and put his name up in lights again on Saturday when City Of Light scored in the Dirt Mile.
This is not the first time Elusive Quality has made his mark at the Breeders' Cup, as he was also represented by his son Raven's Pass, who won the Classic in 2008.
Elusive Quality's name has appeared in the pedigrees of numerous talents across Europe this season too, most notably as he is the broodmare sire of leading freshman No Nay Never, whose debut crop contains six stakes winners, including Middle Park scorer Ten Sovereigns.
Blue-collar sires strike gold
While perennial European champion Galileo was on the mark in the Juvenile Turf, this year's Breeders' Cup also provided some less heralded stallions with a chance to highlight their powers.
Florida's Double Diamond Farm resident First Dude got his name on the score sheet when his daughter Shamrock Rose, conceived at a fee of just $7,500, landed the Filly & Mare Sprint.
Myboycharlie's leading performer Sistercharlie notched her fourth Grade 1 win when she got the better of Wild Illusion - a daughter of Dubawi, no less - in the Filly & Mare Turf. The Peter Brant-owned four-year-old was bred by Ecurie des Monceaux at a fee of €6,500, while her Haras du Mezeray-based sire stood the most recent covering season at a mere €5,000.
On Friday, Jaywalk provided Spendthrift Farm's first-crop sire Cross Traffic, a son of Unbridled's Song, with a first Grade 1 winner in the Juvenile Fillies. The two-year-old was bred at a fee of $12,500 and her sire was available to breeders at just $7,500 earlier this year.
As breeders across the northern hemisphere are mulling over next year's matings, those results should provide ample evidence that you do not need to spend fortunes to produce a runner of immense talent.
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