The best-laid plans of Aidan O'Brien almost went awry before Hit It a Bomb ever got to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf starting gate.
O'Brien's 2-year-old colt had done everything right in his young career, winning each of his first two starts in Ireland with Friday's $1 million race always being the goal.
But then he drew the far-outside 14 post, and that worried O'Brien. And then the Keeneland turf course was downgraded to yielding, and that worried O'Brien, too.
Turns out, there was no need for concern.
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Hit It a Bomb unleashed a furious rally in the stretch under jockey Ryan Moore and flew past Airoforce and Birchwood just before the wire to win the Juvenile Turf, the first Breeders' Cup race run in Lexington.
"We were always looking forward to coming to Keene land," O'Brien said. "When we got the outside draw we were worried and when the ground changed we were also worried. Ryan said he would let him really relax, because he knew what he could do. This was always the plan. He's a real classy miler."
Moore took Hit It a Bomb straight to the rail and settled into last place as Manhattan Dan — the longest shot in the 14-horse field at 45-1 — set early fractions of :23.12 and :48.22.
As they entered the stretch, Manhattan Dan was still out front, and Hit It a Bomb was still several lengths back with only one horse beat and a wall of competitors in front of him.
Moore darted inside for a bit, then guided Hit It a Bomb back out. Once he found daylight, he found another gear and finished a neck ahead of 5-2 favorite Airoforce at the wire. Birchwood was another neck back in third.
Hit It a Bomb — the son of War Front — was bred in Kentucky by owner Evelyn Stockwell. It was O'Brien's third victory in the Juvenile Turf, and the second time Moore rode the winner in this race.
"We've seen it so many times — he gave him a marvelous ride," O'Brien said. "He let him relax early and came with a long, smooth run.
"Obviously, we're delighted with this horse. We always thought a lot of him."