PA-bred Caravel pulls BC Turf Sprint stunner

“You don’t ever take away anything that comes easy, especially with a racehorse and going 5 ½ furlongs,” trainer Brad Cox said following Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

What came unexpectedly easily to Cox, or more precisely to his trainee Caravel, was the early lead, and that set the stage for what may end up as the upset of the weekend. Caravel grabbed the edge and held off a spirited bid by Emaraaty Ana to win by a half-length in 1:01.79 on firm turf.

The Pennsylvania-bred Caravel, off at nearly 43-1, paid $87.78 to win. The exacta, with the runner-up off at 21-1, returned $881.27 for a one-dollar wager.

The five-year-old Caravel, a Mizzen Mast mare taking on the boys, broke sharply under jockey Tyler Gaffalione, but of even more importance, equine rocket ship and 6-5 post time favorite Golden Pal broke last of all.

That took both Caravel and Golden Pal out of their expected spots but to her benefit and his detriment. Caravel led the field by a length through an opening quarter-mile in 21.91 seconds, while Golden Pal, typically on the engine, quickly moved up and to the outside under Irad Ortiz, Jr. but was still sixth and a couple of lengths in arrears.

“The instructions [to the rider] were to break and sit off of it,” Cox allowed.

But, hey, a clear lead’s even better.

In the lane, Caravel fended off an inside bid from Emaraaty Ana to prevail. Creative Force (IRE) finished a neck behind Emaraaty Ana for third. Golden Pal, after moving into contention, faded to finish 10th of the 14 runners.

Out of the Congrats mare Zeezee Zoomzoom, Caravel was bred by in Pennsylvania by Elizabeth Merryman. Merryman trained and owned her through the early part of her career, selling a majority interest in her in the middle of 2021. Caravel sold again at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky mixed sale last November.

Now owned by Qatar Racing, Marc Detampel, and Madaket Stables LLC, she had won four of seven this season prior to the Breeders’ Cup for trainer Brad Cox, including a pair of Grade 3 wins.

Caravel pulled a 42-1 stunner in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Photo by Bill Denver/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup.

But Cox said he had struggled to keep weight on Caravel, until the fall rolled around when “she started putting on a little weight.”

Still, even following a win in the Grade 3 Franklin over the track October 16, Cox wasn’t entirely sold.

“There really wasn’t a lot of intent on running in the Breeders’ Cup” approaching the Franklin, he said.

But she ran well that day, winning by almost two lengths, and as Cox surveyed the landscape for turf sprinting fillies and mares, he found himself staring at a whole lot of nothing.

So the Breeders’ Cup it was, and now Caravel is a Grade 1 winner. Overall she has 12 wins from 20 career outings, with earnings of more than $1.3 million.

She ranked second in the most recent edition of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz Top Midlantic-bred Poll, but with this win will almost certainly ascend to the top spot in the next.

Caravel is scheduled to be sold at the upcoming Keeneland November sale, which begins November 7.