There’s just something about those big Breeders’ Cup upsets! Volponi, Arcangues, Adoration…but my 2nd favorite Breeders’ Cup race is once again a Europe vs America mile on turf. The 2002 BC was held at Arlington Park that year, and the talk of the track was Rock of Gibraltar, the top miler in Europe, winner of 7 Group 1s in a row & undefeated in 2002. The Breeders’ Cup Mile was to be his coronation and farewell race.
Thirteen other top milers lined up to challenge him, including Landseer, Beat Hollow, Forbidden Apple and Aldebaran (stretching out from 7f to 8). At the start, Boston Common set a speedy pace on the yielding turf. The rest of the field followed close behind, with The Rock in dead last.
Boston Common gave way after 5f and was passed by Good Journey, but The Rock was still way back. In the final turn, Landseer tragically took a bad step and broke down, sending the field swerving to avoid the stricken horse. Rock had to check, as well as several others.
In the stretch, Good Journey looked to have the whole thing in the bag, but Rock of Gibraltar had regained his momentum and was barreling down the center of the track. On the rail, Domedriver had found his stride as well, and he slid up beside Good Journey, who battled fiercely to maintain his lead. In the final strides, Domedriver got ahead of Good Journey, but The Rock was still coming on like a freight train…and just couldn’t make it!
Domedriver dove under the wire a length and a half in front. The Rock was defeated!
His jockey, Mick Kinane, took a lot of flack for waiting so long and for dropping so far back in this race, but Landseer’s breakdown happened in The Rock’s direct path to glory. Any lesser horse would not have been able to recover from such a sharp check let alone finish second driving. Domedriver ran a helluva race, though. He stayed on the rail the whole time and took advantage of a tiny opening. It was an incredible upset, and one of my favorite BC races, despite Landseer.
Domedriver paid $54.00 to win, making him one of the biggest longshots in the Mile.
Today, he resides in France, at Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard. Judging by his conformation photo, he looks like he’s enjoying life.
The Rock is at stud in Ireland at Coolmore. He sired Eagle Mountain, who will race in the BC Turf on Saturday.