Knicks Go wrapped up his 2021 campaign in fantastic style in Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), going gate-to-wire for a 2 ¾-length victory in the 1 ¼-mile race.
This was the final race for the 5-year-old son of Paynter, who is scheduled to begin stud duty next year. He went out in spectacular fashion, earning his fifth career Grade 1 win, with seven graded stakes wins overall, and $8,673,135 in earnings.
Knicks Go was facing several other horses with considerable early turn of foot in the Classic, but he outsprinted them all coming out of the gate to get the first half-mile in a comfortable :23.16, with Art Collector a length behind him.
Knicks Go widened his lead to two lengths over Art Collector after six furlongs in 1:10.04. Around the final bend, Hot Rod Charlie made a move to get within a half-length of the lead along the fence, with Medina Spirit to the outside. Knicks Go, making his first start at the Classic distance, proved up to the task as he powered away from his challengers. Medina Spirit picked up second late as Knicks Go stopped the timer in 1:59.57, the fifth-fastest time in the 38-year history of the race.
“We had a beautiful trip,” winning rider Joel Rosario said. “He does exactly what he wants to do. I tried to save as much as I could, because we had a mile and one quarter to go. But he was going easy. At the quarter pole, he just took off again. He’s just an amazing horse.”
“I'm extremely pleased with the result today,” owner Korea Racing Authority’s Jin Woo Lee said. “It had been a rough time when he was three years old, but we overcome the hard year and then turned the corner and then he’s become as special horse. And actually winning the Breeders' Cup was the ultimate goal at the beginning of the year and we achieved that win, so he can go off feeling good and we want to say thank you to everybody.”
Knicks Go is one of Paynter’s seven stakes horses in 2021 and certainly a large part of putting WinStar stallion atop the Fifth-Crop sire list and in the top 10 on the General Sire list. Paynter’s 2022 fee was recently announced at $10,000 S&N.