It appears Breeders’ Cup fans will get another chance in November to back Modern Games , the colt who won the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T) while his frustrated backers settled for refunds as he ran for purse money only.
The Godolphin homebred colt, a son of Dubawi , earned his way back to the World Championships with a dominating victory Sept. 17 in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1T). The CA$1 million race was a Breeders’ Cup Challenge event for the Nov. 5 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1T) on the Keeneland grass.
Modern Games was no surprise at Woodbine, sent off as the heavy favorite as he came off a second-place finish in the Qatar Sussex Stakes (G1) at Goodwood in England, behind only the mighty Baaeed . Earlier in the season, he was victorious in the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French Two Thousand Guineas, G1) at ParisLongchamp.
Early in the Woodbine Mile, it appeared jockey William Buick might have to work a little magic to get the favorite home on top. Racing well back in the 11-horse field and near the inside rail, Modern Games took a wide swing into the stretch to find daylight. He then was pushed even farther outside by a rallying Finest Sound .
Buick said he wasn’t concerned.
“He was very comfortable throughout. He traveled nice and the pace was good. I just had to figure out a route, really. But I had plenty of horse and he was brave when he had to be,” the jockey said.
William Buick hoists the Woodbine Mile trophy
Once he had daylight, Modern Games was plenty brave, indeed. Quickly putting distance on the field, he sprinted away to win by 5 1/4 lengths, winning for the sixth time in 11 career starts.
Ivar also found late speed to get up for second, with Finest Sound third. Shirl’s Speight was fourth. Town Cruise , who stole the race last year on the lead, was prominent early in this year’s edition but couldn’t finish the effort, reporting fifth.
Ivar, third in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Mile and fourth a year earlier, remains a viable candidate for a third try and trainer Paolo Lobo lamented his schedule was disrupted this year, leading to a detour to Horseshoe Indianapolis, where he won a 1 1/16-mile grass stakes in course-record time, then the trip to Canada for a Breeders’ Cup prep race.
“Unfortunately, he was ready to run earlier this year at Churchill Downs,” Lobo said. “But he had a little problem with a hoof. That was a setback for us.”
The Indiana effort, he added, “set up for us. They went very fast. It was perfect.”
Despite his European accomplishments, Modern Games sticks in American memories as a result of the controversial mix-up behind the starting gate at Del Mar. In that, the colt first was scratched, then “unscratched,” but not before he had been dropped from the betting pools.
As a result, his backers got refunds or substitutions on exotic wagers and watched in frustration as he was a 1 1/2-lengths winner.
If Modern Games indeed makes the trip to Keeneland in November, fans will find an improved horse there, Buick said.
“He’s got bigger. He’s filled out. He’s very strong, a very strong horse. He was last year but he’s got bigger and stronger this year. He retains all the ability in the world.
“He’s a real fast horse,” Buick said. “The faster, the better for him. As you saw there, when he changes gears, he’s got a lot of speed. So, yeah. He’s a real fast miler.”
Modern Games, out of the New Approach mare Modern ideals , finished the Woodbine Mile in 1:32.77 over firm going, a bit more than 1 second outside the course record. He was not asked for his best in the final sixteenth.
The victory capped a perfect afternoon at the suburban Toronto track for Godolphin, Buick and trainer Charlie Appleby, although the trainer did not attend.
With two runners on the day, they secured two wins and two “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup spots as Mysterious Night was equally impressive in romping to a 5 3/4-lengths score in the Pattison Summer Stakes (G1T).