Knicks Go barrelled out of the starting gate and never relinquished control of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, laying down a wire-to-wire win. While most handicappers expected Medina Spirit to go after Knicks Go at the start, Medina Spirit broke slowly and never challenged Knicks Go. The 5-year old colt came into this race having won seven straight two-turn races and he skipped over the 1 1/4 mile track. Medina Spirit was second, Essential Quality (who started as the favorite) was third, and Hot Rod Charlie finished fourth.
Knicks Go is one of only six horses to have won two Breeders’ Cup races. Last year, he won the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. With this win, his earnings now top $8.6 million, leaving him in strong contention for 2021 Horse of the Year.
After the Pegasus World Cup in January 2022, Taylor Made Stallions announced that Knicks Go will be retired to the breeding shed, where he will stand for $30,000.
Essential Quality, also trained by Brad Cox, will retire after the Breeders’ Cup. The three year old colt won eight of 10 lifetime races.
Why is the Breeders’ Cup so often the end game for successful racehorses?
The major reason is the cost to ensure a horse that has achieved this level of success.
“The biggest thing that people don’t understand is the insurance you must buy,” said Elliott Walden, president and chief executive of WinStar Farm. “If you take a horse that’s worth $20 million, your insurance to keep him in training is 4% for mortality. That’s a lot of money to put out and then have to earn back at a rate of 60% of the purse and that doesn’t even count what you pay jockeys and trainers.
“It’s just hard economically to keep those horses in training. Our purse structure is loaded to 3-year-olds [and the Triple Crown.]”
The second reason ties into the first. There simply aren’t enough big money races for horses four and up. The Santa Anita Handicap, once boasting a $1 Million purse, now offers a “mere” $600,000. Plus, the economics of breeding, are simply more profitable. Last year Authentic won both the Kentucky Derby and the Classic. He retired after the race and stood for $75,000. He covered 200 mares. It’s hard to argue with $15,000,000.