That Horse Can Rum
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The baby-faced gene runs strong through the O'Brien family. Trainer Aidan has always looked much younger than his actual age, and his son, 18-year-old Joseph, could pass for 14 in a pinch. Aidan also has passed along another significant strand of DNA -- high-class horsemanship. Joseph O'Brien rode in his first Breeders' Cup race Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs, and he won it in a romp, booting home St Nicholas Abbey to become, at age 18 years 161 days, the youngest rider to win a Breeders' Cup race.
"It's a dream come true," said O'Brien as he headed off to the post-race interview room.
O'Brien has been at past Breeders' Cups, but only as a morning exercise rider. He rode his first winner overseas in May 2009, won his first Group 1 in May 2011, and delivered St Nicholas Abbey to the winner's circle in the $3 million Turf.
The horse, of course, had a hand in the outcome. The 4-year-old St Nicholas Abbey ($15.60) might have run the race of his life, bursting from the back of the Turf pack to scorch past Sea Moon, who had taken the lead in midstretch. St Nicholas Abbey, racing in sixth and seventh as his stablemate, Await the Dawn, set splits of 24.92 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 50.09 for the first half, and 1:14.67 for six furlongs, flew through his final quarter-mile, coming home in less than 23 seconds. Final time for 1 1/2 miles on a turf course upgraded from good to firm mid-card was 2:28.85.
(Also contains video of the exciting race!)