ARCADIA, Calif. -- A few weeks ago, trainer Henry Cecil scolded himself for the way he prepared Midday for the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp in early October. She finished third, and at the time, Cecil said the filly had been slightly unprepared following a layoff and would be better in her next start.
Boy, was he right.
Making her first start outside of Europe, Midday ($6.60) rallied along the inside in the stretch to win Friday's $1,818,000 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita.
"The Breeders' Cup was always her main target," Cecil said. "I hoped I'd got her right for the Prix de l'Opera, but when you give them a rest, sometimes they don't come back, and they need a race."
The victory was the second in Friday's first four races for European-based runners. Earlier in the day, the Irish-trained Man of Iron won the BC Marathon.
Midday, ridden by Tom Queally for Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms, won the Filly and Mare Turf by a length over a fast-closing Pure Clan. Forever Together, the defending champion, finished third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Midday, while closing from last in the final quarter-mile. Visit was fourth, followed by Magical Fantasy, Maram, Rutherienne, and Dynaforce.
Midday ran 1 1/4 miles on turf in 1:59.14.
Queally, riding his first Breeders' Cup winner on his first mount in the series, rode a confident race on Midday. He kept Midday behind pacesetters Visit and Dynaforce through early fractions of 24.14 and 48.83 seconds and moved closer to Visit on the backstretch while staying on the inside.
Queally had to rouse Midday on the turn, which made it appear as if she could be in trouble, but she was quickly making up ground on Visit, who is also owned by Juddmonte Farms. Midday closed well to take control in the final furlong.
"She's got loads of class and a great turn of foot, but she tends to hit a flat spot," Queally said. "I knew when she hit top gear she'd find plenty for me."
Queally celebrated by waving his whip in the stretch as Midday crossed the line. As Midday walked into the winner's circle, a group of fans crowded along the rail, chanted, "Henry, Henry, Henry."
Abdullah made a rare visit to Southern California for the Breeders' Cup and said after the race that Midday will race next year. Midday gave him his third win in the Filly and Mare Turf, preceded by Banks Hill at Belmont Park in 2001 and Intercontinental at Belmont Park in 2005.
The victory was Cecil's first in the Breeders' Cup with his seventh starter. His best previous finish was a second with Eltish in the 1994 Juvenile at Churchill Downs.
Midday, who was bred by Juddmonte, has won 4 of 11 starts and $1,561,105. She was second by a head in the English Oaks in June and later third in the Irish Oaks.
Before Friday, her biggest win came in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Goodwood, England, in August.
BREEDERS' CUP FILLY & MARE TURF RESULTS
Santa Anita Park, Friday, Nov. 6