LOUISVILLE — In the middle of the emotional frenzy breaking out around him, trainer Aidan O'Brien fumbled for his phone, anxious to place one very important call.
"I'm just going to ring my mum," said the normally stoic head of the powerful Ballydoyle stable, his face beaming.
Of the endless number of top-level wins O'Brien has enjoyed in his illustrious career, few will stay with him and his family like the one produced on the Churchill Downs track Saturday.
The champion trainer watched his son, rising jockey Joseph O'Brien, guide St Nicholas Abbey and the colors of owners Coolmore Stud to a crafty 21/4-length win in the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf, a triumph that makes the teenaged O'Brien the youngest jockey ever to win a Breeders' Cup race.
"This is very special. Unbelievable," said Aidan O'Brien, who also saddled Wrote to victory in the Juvenile Turf earlier on the card. "It was a wonderful race. He (Joseph O'Brien) is an amazing rider."
Just 18 years old, Joseph O'Brien had already handled some weighty responsibility bestowed on him by his famous father. The eldest son of Aidan and Annemarie O'Brien earned his first classic win on Roderic O'Connor in this year's Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Nothing will compare with what Joseph O'Brien pulled off Saturday. The baby-faced rider looked like a seasoned veteran against a field that featured Group I winners Sarafina and 2009 Filly & Mare Turf winner Midday, taking St Nicholas Abbey back early and saving ground on the inside as fellow O'Brien trainee Await The Dawn carved out an opening half-mile in :50.09 under pressure from Dean's Kitten.
Grade I winner Brilliant Speed surged up to grab the lead entering the stretch of the 11/2-mile race, but the 5-foot-11 inch Joseph O'Brien was already angling St Nicholas Abbey out and pushing the 4-year-old bay colt on as they picked off rivals in the lane. Sent off at odds of 6-1, St Nicholas Abbey finished in 2:28.85, with Sea Moon and Brilliant Speed second and third, respectively. Sarafina, the 2-1 favorite, was fourth.
"I've been coming to the Breeders' Cup since I was very small, so to ride a winner is out of this world," Joseph O'Brien said.
Caleb's Posse overwhelms in Dirt Mile
Next to last in the nine-horse field turning for home, Caleb's Posse angled out wide and came running with a tremendous turn of foot to catch Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford in a deep edition of the $1 million Dirt Mile.
Prior to the 8-furlong run, Caleb's Posse was best known as the horse who nosed out champion Uncle Mo during the latter's comeback race in the Grade I King's Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 27. That top form was duplicated and then some as the 3-year-old handily defeated his rivals by 4 lengths in the Dirt Mile.
With Rajiv Maragh in the irons, Caleb's Posse was given plenty to run at Saturday. The expected duel between The Factor and Shackleford materialized as advertised with the former getting pressured through an opening quarter-mile in :22.49 and a half in :45.36 over a fast track.
Shackleford ranged up to stick his large white face in front turning for home, but as he battled to get to the wire, Caleb's Posse was swallowing up ground with giant strides on the outside en route to finishing in 1:34.59 for his eighth win in 16 starts.
Shackleford was 13/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Tres Borrachos while 5-2 favorite Wilburn finished seventh. The Factor faded to eighth.
Amazombiefrightfully good in Sprint
Grade I winner Amazombie collared Force Freeze in midstretch and was able to edge just clear to earn a thrilling neck victory in the $1 million Sprint.
Despite winning the Grade I Ancient Title at Santa Anita on Oct. 8, Amazombie was slightly overlooked in the field of nine, as evidenced by his 7-1 odds. The 5-year-old, with Mike Smith aboard, has now put his name in the running for a divisional honor.
Force Freeze stayed on to get second with 5-2 favorite Jackson Bend coming home third.
Regally Ready much the best in Turf Sprint
Vinery Stables' homebred Grade I winner Regally Ready showed his class in the $1 million Turf Sprint when the 2-1 favorite got rolling around the final turn and kicked clear from his rivals to give jockey Corey Nakatani his ninth career Breeders' Cup win.
Regally Ready had been a standout much of 2011, winning five of eight starts coming in, including the Grade I Nearctic at Woodbine on Oct. 16. While not quite the wire-to-wire effort he delivered in the Nearctic, the 4-year-old gelding ran fractions of :22.45 and :44.81 and finished 11/2 lengths ahead of runner-up Country Day with Perfect Officer third.
Wrote crafts winning script in Juvenile Turf
Years after the fact, High Chaparral continues to provide Aidan O'Brien with Breeders' Cup victories.
Wrote, a son of the two-time Breeders' Cup Turf winner, gave O'Brien what was then just his second victory in the World Championships since saddling High Chaparral to his wins in 2002 and '03 when he captured the $1 million Juvenile Turf by 21/4 lengths over Excaper.
Afleet Again a stunnerin Marathon
The longest price on the board in the 11-horse field for the Marathon proved best as 41-1 shot Afleet Again uncorked a six-wide run in the stretch to win by 21/4 lengths over Birdrun.
Pleasant Prince set the fractions but gave up the advantage around the final turn. Cease took the lead entering the lane but Afleet Again answered with a far outside charge under jockey Cornelio Velazquez to snap a 13-race losing skid. Grade I winner Giant Oak was third.
A.U. Miner, the 3-1 favorite, was vanned off with bilateral sesamoid fractures in his left front fetlock and was subsequently sent to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington where he will probably undergo surgery next week.