(Sistercharlie was good enough for third on Saturday / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
Mrs. C.C. Regalado-Gonzalez’s Iridessa ($28.40) held off Vasilika by a neck after a duel in deep stretch to win the 21st running of the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita.
Trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden by Wayne Lordan, Iridessa covered the mile and a quarter on a firm turf course in 1:57.77. It is the first Breeders’ Cup victory for O’Brien and Lordan.
Longshot Mirth raced off to an uncontested lead with Vasilika tracking in second and Iridessa just behind her. On the turn, Iridessa and Vasilika moved as a team and at the sixteenth pole stormed past Mirth with Iridessa moving fastest only to have Vasilika fight back along the rail and just miss at the wire.
Defending champion and heavily favored Sistercharlie finished another 2 ¼ lengths back in third.
Iridessa is a 3-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Ruler of the World (IRE) out of the Danehill mare Senta’s Dream (GB). The victory, her fourth Grade or Group 1 triumph, was worth $1,100,000 and increased Iridessa’s earnings to $1,988,198.
Winning trainer Joseph O’Brien (Iridessa (IRE)) – “That was fantastic. Wayne (Lordan) gave her a great ride and got into a really nice position early on. I’ve got a great team back home that work for me. This is unbelievable.”
Winning jockey Wayne Lordan (Iridessa (IRE)) – “Unbelievable feeling. She was so tough to dig deep and hold on. It was some performance.”
Mark Madgwick, representative of winning owner Mrs. C.C. Regalado-Gonzalez (Iridessa) – “That’s as good as it gets. Unfortunately the owners couldn’t make it, but I’m sure they will be over the moon. She will stay in training next year.”
Second-place trainer Dan Ward (Vasilika) – “What a fantastic race. He (Flavien Prat) rode her perfect. He had her relaxed the whole way. They weren’t gaining ground on the turf so he felt like he had to be out closer (than where she usually is farther off the pace) and just put her where she was comfortable and she did not give up. She’s done everything we’ve asked from her since the day we got her (as a claim). She’s a super horse.”
Vasilika is scheduled to be in the sale next week: “Hopefully, we don’t sell her. I don’t want to lose her. You know that.”
Second-place jockey Flavien Prat (Vasilika) – “We had a good trip. She ran a great race. No excuses. It’s always disappointing to get beat by a neck, but she ran her race.”
Third-place trainer Chad Brown (favorite Sistercharlie (IRE)) – “Johnny (Velazquez) said it might have been a little too firm for her. They weren’t really coming back today. But, not a bad trip. I loved her spot on the first turn. She ran a great race. I think the two horses who finished ahead of her ran outstanding. I don’t have any major excuses other than it seems like it’s a pretty firm turf and if you’re not in the mix turning for home it’s going to be hard to win on it. This was her first time running here and this might not be her course. Not taking anything away from the top two runners. They were really finishing through the wire.”
Third-place owner Peter Brant (favorite Sistercharlie (IRE)) – “They just didn’t come back. She tried real hard. A good horse won and she was just a little too far back. But she ran really well. I’ll see how she comes back and we’ll see what we’ll do. She’s very special. We might try and keep her in training, we’ll see.”
Third-place jockey John Velazquez (favorite Sistercharlie (IRE)) – “It was hard for her. The fast pace that they put in front of her, it’s hard for a horse to come back the way she is, with her style of running. She still ran well, but it wasn’t her.”