Thunder Snow to return to Churchill Downs for Breeders’ Cup Classic

Jul 22, 2018 Kellie Reilly/

Eighteen months after his bucking bronco routine in the 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) made him a social media sensation, Thunder Snow will get another chance at Churchill Downs in the November 3 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

The Godolphin homebred was last seen romping in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) at Meydan on March 31, when he drew 5 3/4 lengths clear of American champion West Coast. The formline through West Coast bolsters Thunder Snow’s Breeders’ Cup credentials. Not only had West Coast finished third to Gun Runner in last year’s Classic, but he was also coming off a hard-trying second to the streaking Horse of the Year in the Pegasus World Cup (G1).

While Thunder Snow was under consideration for the June festivities at Royal Ascot, trainer Saeed bin Suroor opted to give him more time before returning to the races.

“Thunder Snow is fine – he just needed a break,” bin Suroor told “The ultimate target this year is the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”

His road to the Breeders’ Cup might begin in the August 12 Prix Jacques le Marois (G1), a one-mile turf test at Deauville that would set him up for a U.S. dirt prep.

“We are planning to take Thunder Snow to the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park, New York, at the end of September,” bin Suroor said, “but want to give him a race in Europe first. That could be the Prix Jacques le Marois.”

Thunder Snow competed in the Marois last summer, finishing third in a three-way photo. That was part of a productive season back on turf following his Derby debacle, which marked his first loss on dirt after victories in the 2017 UAE Derby (G2) and UAE 2000 Guineas (G3). Thunder Snow also captured the Prix Jean Prat (G1) and placed in the Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) and St James’s Palace (G1).

Once again wintering in Dubai for the 2018 Carnival, Thunder Snow had mixed results in the series of World Cup preps. He scored in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) but settled for a distant second in Round 1 (G2) and Round 3 (G1). By rebounding with a vengeance in the main event, Thunder Snow became the first UAE Derby winner to add the World Cup.

With 2018 UAE Derby hero and Kentucky Derby disappointment Mendelssohn likewise hoping to make the Breeders’ Cup Classic, we could see two high-profile internationals looking for a do-over at Churchill Downs.

And depending upon how the fall unfolds, there could be as many as four UAE Derby winners in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with Mubtaahij (2015) a plausible contender and Toast of New York  (2014) a more speculative one. Mubtaahij, eighth in the 2017 Classic for Bob Baffert, is on course for the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar.

Toast of New York, the near-misser in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic, is hoping to get back in form for another tilt. British trainer Jamie Osborne is mapping out an American campaign for the seven-year-old, who retired to stud, but got few mares, returned to training, and launched an improbable comeback last winter. Although successful first up from the three-year layoff in December, Toast of New York was eased when last seen in the Pegasus World Cup and has since been gelded.

Thunder Snow photo courtesy of Dubai Racing Club

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