How to Win $3 Million at the Breeders Cup


So this is how you win a $3 million horse race over the turf on Breeders Cup Saturday. If you’re a trainer named Aidan O’Brien, and you’ve won the Juvenile Turf already today, you bring a horse called St. Nicholas Abbey over from Ballydoyle in Ireland, and you hand him to your son, Joe, who is 18, very soon, and who is very likely going to size out of being a jockey very soon, and then you watch Joe ride a perfect race from start to finish to win the Breeders Cup Turf, all the while hoping that your wife survives the whole business.

“My heart was going 100 miles-an-hour,” said Linda O’Brien. “I’m barely able to stand.”

Joe O’Brien is now the youngest jockey to win a Breeders Cup race of any kind. He put St. Nicholas Abbey into perfect position just off the rail, saving distance and goosing the pace just enough so that, when a gap opened just before the head of the stretch, he had a lot of Abbey left under him and won with ease. His father had four more horses to saddle, so Joe stayed in the winner’s circle and signed autographs.


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Charles P. Pierce is a staff writer for Grantland and the author of Idiot America. He writes regularly for Esquire, is the lead writer for Esquire.com’s Politics blog, and is a frequent guest on NPR.

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