January 20, 2022

Space Blues goes out with a bang in Breeders’ Cup Mile

Space Blues with William Buick riding wins the Breeders' Cup Mile at Del Mar (Photo by Horsephotos)

One Godolphin horse acts up in the gate and gets scratched, then his favored stablemate goes out and wins a Breeders’ Cup trophy. If that’s an insufficient summary of Friday’s Juvenile Turf (G1), it explains the sense of déjà vu when the script was replayed in Saturday’s $1.84 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Only this time, the 2.10-1 Mile favorite Space Blues was blissfully uninvolved in the fracas, and furnished profits not only to connections, but to his bettors as well.

While Space Blues was somewhat reprising the role of Juvenile Turf favorite Modern Games, fellow Charlie Appleby trainee Master of the Seas was the bad gate actor here. He didn’t have the same degree of meltdown as Albahr, who reared and sat down in the gate prior to the Juvenile Turf, but Master of the Seas caused himself enough trouble to prompt a scratch per veterinary advice. Agitated in post 1, Master of the Seas reared and hit his head, ending his hopes of taking part.

“It was an interesting race beforehand with Master of the Seas being scratched,” Appleby said, “but we’re getting used to that now! Rules are rules, and we have to abide by them.”

After a delay to re-load the field, Smooth Like Strait went straight to the lead and got away with a more comfortable pace than might have been forecast. Presumptive pace rival Blowout opted to sit second, 1 1/2 lengths behind, as Smooth Like Strait found his zone in splits of :23.51 and :47.38.

That tempo was ideal for Space Blues, as a top-class seven-furlong operator in Europe who was stretching out to a mile in his swan song. The son of Dubawi was already crafting his stallion ad as jockey William Buick had him perched in a ground-saving third. Advancing to second at the six-furlong mark in 1:11.02, Space Blues was poised to unload his turn of foot.

Blowout wasn’t able to maintain her position flanking him, and the favorite steered out to pursue Smooth Like Strait turning for home. Smooth Like Strait quickened in hopes of pulling the 10.20-1 upset, but Space Blues achieved liftoff to collar him by a half-length in 1:34.01.

Ivar fared best of those trying to close off those fractions, checking in another length back in third. Raging Bull, who could have used some help from fellow Peter Brant colorbearer Blowout, was fourth in his career finale. Another making her final start, fifth-placer Got Stormy, was unable to duplicate her 2019 runner-up effort.

Pearls Galore ran fairly evenly in sixth. Rounding out the order of finish were In Love, Casa Creed, Real Appeal, Mother Earth, Blowout, Vin de Garde, and the 3-1 Mo Forza, who was never involved after early troubled put him far out of position. In addition to Master of the Seas, Hit the Road was withdrawn due to a fever. Also-eligible Queen Supreme didn’t get in and instead attempted the Filly & Mare Turf (G1), where she trailed.

Space Blues will retire to stud after his Breeders’ Cup Mile heroics (Photo by Horsephotos)

Space Blues retires with more than $2.5 million from a 19-11-3-1 line. His prior Group 1 laurels came in the 2020 Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1) and the Oct. 3 Prix de la Foret (G1) last out. The chestnut’s other major victories include last season’s Lennox (G2) and Prix de la Porte Maillot (G3) as well as this term’s lucrative 1351 Turf Sprint on Saudi Cup Day and the Aug. 21 City of York (G2). During his sophomore campaign in 2019, Space Blues placed in the Prix Jean Prat (G1), the Jersey (G3) at Royal Ascot, and the Maurice de Gheest.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” Appleby said of his Breeders’ Cup exclamation point. “He’s been a fantastic horse and will now be retired to stud. William gave him a great ride in the perfect position throughout. Space Blues has been a great servant and it’s another well-deserved win.” 

Buick commented on how much this meant to Space Blues.

“We know how tough it is to come here and everything needs to pan out for you to win,” his rider said. “He’s a great little horse and I don’t think he’s had the recognition he deserves. A mile round here suits him down to the ground. I was a bit nervous going into the race as I wanted to give the horse what he deserved.”

Godolphin’s Irish homebred is out of the Group 2-winning Noverre mare Miss Lucifer. That makes him a half-brother to Dubai Group 2 scorer Shuruq, dam of Grade 3 heroine and multiple Grade 1-placed Antoinette as well as multiple Grade 3-placed Javanica. This female line tracing to Sunbittern is also responsible for Dubawi, so Space Blues sports the Rasmussen Factor of inbreeding to a notable broodmare.