Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor’s Highland Reel went to the front shortly after the break, opened a huge lead on the run down the backstretch and had more than enough to hold off favored Flintshire by 1 ¾ lengths to win the 33rd running of the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) for 3-year-olds and up on Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita Park.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Seamus Heffernan, Highland Reel covered the mile and a half on a firm turf course in 2:23.00. Defending champion Found finished another 2 ¼ lengths back in third.
It was the seventh victory for the partnership of owners in the World Championships and third in the Turf with the other wins coming with Found last year and St Nicholas Abbey in 2011.
It is Heffernan’s first Breeders’ Cup win and the 11th for O’Brien with six of them coming in the Turf.
O’Brien’s other Turf winners are High Chapparal (2002-03), St Nicholas Abbey, Magician (2013) and Found.