Cheers replace jeers as Modern Games doubles up in G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile
Modern Games joined a select group of horses to win two different Breeders’ Cup races as he came with a withering run in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland, USA, on Saturday, 5 November.
The Dubawi colt captured the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in controversial circumstances at Del Mar 12 months earlier, when he was briefly declared a non-runner before the start.
After half-missing the break and encountering early traffic, Modern Games was covered up in a close eighth as Smooth Like Strait led the 14-strong field.
The Charlie Appleby-trained three-year-old was angled out for a home stretch run by William Buick and quickened through the gears entering the final furlong.
Modern Games headed Ivar with just under half a furlong to race and soon asserted for a cosy three-quarter length victory over the staying on Shirl’s Speight and Kinross.
Charlie Appleby said: “Modern Games is ultra-professional and runs with his heart on his sleeve every time. He is one horse you would love to play poker with because he shows his hand every time. It was a fantastic ride by William [Buick] and it’s great for the team, great for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and great for Godolphin.
“Modern Games has been a fantastic horse to travel with. He won the French Guineas when he was very impressive, then we stepped him up in trip in the French Derby, where he ran so honestly to finish third. He didn’t really stay so I dropped him back to seven furlongs, which was the wrong thing to do. He then ran a blinder in the Sussex behind Baaeed before winning in Canada. Later in the season we rolled the dice at Champions Day on soft ground and he probably got me over the line to win the UK trainers’ championship.
“Next year, the Queen Anne is the obvious target. Modern Games is getting a fanfare around world and it was great to see him applauded this year not like last year, which was no fault of his own. We will look to bring him back here next year. From this July onward he really changed physically and got stronger in all the right places. I thought he looked a picture in the paddock today and I was always quite confident when I saw him look that well.”
William Buick said: “Modern Games was really professional last year too. Today, he was foot perfect. He just came out of the gate a little slow and missed the break but I was happy where we were. Once I got him running, he stayed true. He loves this ground. I thought he was the best horse in the race and I didn’t want to take too many chances. When we come over here to the Breeders’ Cup, it is a great privilege. We bring some very good horses and this is one of them.”