England into RWC semis after record-tying win over Australia

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OITA, Japan (AP) — The strains of English rugby anthem “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” were already triumphantly swirling around Oita Stadium when Anthony Watson intercepted a long pass out wide and bounded over for England’s fourth try that clinched a record-tying win over Australia.

A 40-16 victory. A place in the Rugby World Cup semifinals. An unprecedented seven straight wins over its bitter rival.

For England and its jubilant fans, days do not get much better than this.

Making it worse for the Wallabies, an Australian masterminded the entire thing.

“At this moment,” said England coach Eddie Jones, when asked if he had any sympathy for his native country, “there’s not a lot of sympathy. No.”

A humiliating 33-13 loss to Australia at the 2015 World Cup contributed to England’s pool-stage exit in the tournament it was hosting and led to the hiring of Jones, who was tasked with getting the world’s wealthiest rugby union back on track.

This was the biggest game of his tenure and he nailed it.

Strong in defense and clinical in attack, England scored four tries to one and displayed the kind of mental resilience the team has lacked in recent years under Jones.

Australia, which led 3-0 after a dominant first 15 minutes, reduced the deficit to 17-16 with a converted try soon after halftime. England responded with 10 points in the next five minutes in a game-defining period.

“The boys were calm and in control,” England captain Owen Farrell said. “We said it wasn’t about what happened but what’s going to happen next.”

Next for England is a semifinal match against New Zealand or Ireland in Yokohama.

It’s less clear for the Australians and their coach, Michael Cheika.

“It’s a cruel world when you are being asked those questions two minutes after being knocked out of a World Cup,” Cheika said, responding to a question about his future.

Another reporter tried his luck, anyway. Australia’s fans deserve to know, Cheika was told.

“When the time comes, I’ll tell them,” Cheika said. “They don’t need to know today.”

The Wallabies failed to reach the semifinals for only the third time in nine editions of the World Cup, and each of their quarterfinal losses have come against England.

Indeed, the English are going through a period of unprecedented dominance over their old foes, having won their last seven matches against Australia since the 2015 World Cup.

This latest win equaled the record margin of victory — 24 points — which also came under Jones, a 30-6 win in 2017 at Twickenham.

It will go down as one of England’s best World Cup performances.

Winger Jonny May, making his 50th international appearance, scored two tries in a three-minute span midway through the first half to put the English 14-3 ahead. It was a lead they never lost despite it being trimmed to one point soon by Australia winger Marika Koroibete’s solo try from halfway in the 43rd minute.

May’s second score came following an interception by England center Henry Slade on his own 22. Slade, a hotly debated pick ahead of George Ford, raced 40 meters forward and then executed a perfect grubber kick to his left that May gathered on the run before finding the left corner.

England led 17-9 at halftime and found its lead trimmed to one point by Koroibete’s try. The response was emphatic.

Three minutes later, Farrell’s flat pass sent in Kyle Sinckler, who cut a great angle to split the defensive line, and a wide smile appeared on the prop’s face well before he had crossed the line.

“He’s like a runaway rhino,” a smiling Jones said.

Farrell converted and added a penalty soon after, restoring England’s lead to 11 points at 27-16.

Sinckler made just as big a contribution in defense, stripping the ball away when Australia was within two meters of the line after turning down an easy shot at goal.

That was realistically it for Australia, and Kurtley Beale’s long pass — intercepted by Watson for the fourth try in the 76th — was the end for the Wallabies in Japan.

England scored 23 unanswered points in the final 34 minutes. Farrell finished with 20 points, successful with all eight of his kicks.

“The challenge is there’s always a better samurai around the corner,” Jones said, looking ahead to the semis. “The semifinals are always the toughest game of the tournament because you have two teams desperate to get to the final.

“Our challenge now is to find ways to get better.”

Breeders’ Cup bans Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is banned from entering horses in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, where he was barred earlier this year.

Fred Hertrich, chairman of the Breeders’ Cup board, said Friday that it would honor Santa Anita’s house rule and not allow Hollendorfer to enter horses in the event Nov. 1-2.

The Stronach Group, whose track ownership includes Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields in the San Francisco Bay area, ordered Hollendorfer off the grounds after six horses – four at Santa Anita and two at Golden Gate – died under his care earlier this year. Santa Anita had 30 horses die during its winter-spring meet.

At the time, TSG said the 73-year-old trainer was “no longer welcome to stable, race, or train his horses at any of our facilities.”

Hollendorfer’s attorney, Drew Couto, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Los Alamitos in Orange County welcomed Hollendorfer during its summer meet, with track owner Edward Allred saying, “We do not feel he should be a scapegoat for a problem which derives from a number of factors.”

Hollendorfer won a request for a temporary restraining order that allowed him to run horses at Del Mar during the summer.

But he lost a similar request in Los Angeles Superior Court to race at Santa Anita’s fall meet.

What to know about the 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships

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The Thoroughbred industry will close out a dramatic and unprecedented year of horse racing with the 36th iteration of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, only on NBC, NBCSN, and NBCSports.com.

What is the Breeders’ Cup World Championships? The Breeders’ Cup is horse racing’s last hurrah of the year. Horses from around the globe will compete in 14 races over two days, with the Breeders’ Cup Classic closing out the weekend.

The Breeders’ Cup originated in 1984 as a year-end championship for North American Thoroughbred horses and their breeders. The brainchild of the late John Gaines, the former owner of Gainesway Farm, the Breeders’ Cup was built by Thoroughbred breeders, for Thoroughbred breeders.

In 2007, the Breeders’ Cup was expanded from one day to two. Now, the first day of the weekend is called Future Stars Friday, with many of racing’s most promising colts and fillies running on both the dirt and the turf. Championship Saturday will give out more than $22 million in purse money over nine races, including the $6 million Classic.

When and where is the 2019 Breeders’ Cup? The 2019 Breeders’ Cup begins Friday, November 1 and concludes on November 2 with a packed card that features the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Racing at Santa Anita beings at 1:45 p.m. ET on Nov. 1 and at 1:07 p.m. ET on Nov. 2, but not every race over the weekend is a Breeders’ Cup Championships race. See all post times here.

The Breeders’ Cup changes tracks every year, with California’s Santa Anita hosting in 2019 for a record-10th time. Keeneland will host in 2020, followed by Del Mar in 2021.

How can I watch the 2019 Breeders’ Cup? NBC Sports is home to the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV and NBCSports.com before, during and after. Coverage kicks off with Future Stars Friday on November 1, from 4-8 p.m. on NBCSN. NBC Sports will resume coverage the following day beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET, with the Classic hour concluding the broadcast from 8-9 p.m. ET.

How are horses picked for the Breeders’ Cup? Horses must be nominated to race in any Breeders’ Cup event. Stallions at stud who are nominated then pass that nomination down to their foals, meaning any offspring of a nominated stallion is eligible to run in a Breeders’ Cup race. Each year, the stallion’s nomination costs as much as his advertised breeding fee and will cover up to the first 50 foals the stallion produces that year before the fee goes up. Foals can also be nominated individually at $400 each, and stallions standing abroad are also eligible. These funds contribute to the Breeders’ Cup purses and go back into the host track.

However, just because a horse is nominated doesn’t mean they’ll run in the Breeders’ Cup.

The “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is a series of Breeders’ Cup qualifying races that gives the winner an automatic entry into the relevant Breeders’ Cup race (with entry fees paid).

Horses who didn’t get in through a Challenge Series race accumulate points throughout the season by finishing graded races in the money, and the horses with the most points at the end of the season will fill the remaining spots.

See all results and replays from NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series

What is the Breeders’ Cup Classic? The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic is the marquee event of the weekend. At 1 1/4 miles long, the Classic has a field of up to 14 horses that must be at least 3 years old. Breeders’ Cup Classic winners have a history of going on to win Horse of the Year, including Gun Runner (2017), Curlin (2007) and Cigar (1995).

In 2015, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah capped off his historic year by dominating Breeders’ Cup Classic with a 6 1/2-length win, becoming the first horse ever to claim the “Grand Slam” of horse racing: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. American Pharoah was then retired and went on to win the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.

Who are the horses to watch in the Breeders’ Cup Classic?

  • Bob Baffert’s McKinzie, named for Baffert’s late friend Brad McKinzie, gave the trainer his first G1 Whitney Stakes win ever. Before an injury sidelined McKinzie for the entire 2018 Triple Crown, he was considered to be Baffert’s best shot at the Derby over stablemate Justify (who went on to become the 13th horse ever to win the Triple Crown). McKinzie won the Pennsylvania Derby in his first start back from injury, then finished 12th in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. After a big 2019 where he finished either first or second in all six of his races, McKinzie’s other win this year was in the G2 Alysheba.
  • Code of Honor finished third in the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being elevated to second after Maximum Security was disqualified. His connections decided he would sit out the rest of the Triple Crown, and he’s since gone unbeaten in three starts (G3 Dwyer, G1 Travers Stakes and G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup). The Shug McGaughey-trained colt has over $2 million in career earnings.
  • With over $2 million in lifetime earnings, powerhouse Elate is one of the top active mares in the country. A great granddaughter of 1992 Classic winner A. P. Indy, Elate has finished in the money in every start since July of 2018. Her campaign for the 2019 Classic began with her win in the G2 Fleur de Lis, and she most recently finished second in the G1 Spinster behind 2019 Breeders’ Cup Distaff contender Blue Prize.
  • Bred by Northern Farm in Hokkaido, Japan, Yoshida finished just outside the money in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. The China Horse Club and WinStar-owned stallion hasn’t won a race this year, but did see two top-3 finishes in Grade 1 races (second in the Whitney behind McKinzie and third in the Woodward).
  • Trained by Todd Pletcher, Vino Rosso didn’t win any Challenge Series races this year, but he does boast a win in the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, second to Code of Honor in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and third in the Whitney Stakes behind McKinzie and Yoshida. Vino Rosso’s sire is Curlin, winner of the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
  • 2019 Preakness winner War of Will may be best known for being the horse interfered with by Maximum Security during the 2019 Kentucky Derby. He hasn’t won a race since the Preakness back in May, finishing in the money only once out of three starts (third in the Pennsylvania Derby).
  • Mongolian Groom was catapulted into the Classic conversation after the 25-1 longshot upset the favorite McKinzie in the Awesome Again Stakes. His road to the Classic has been unconventional: The Calumet-bred gelding wasn’t initially nominated, so his connections paid a steep $200,000 fee (compared to his lifetime earnings of $579,141) for him to become eligible for Breeders’ Cup races since his nomination was so late.

Who won the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic? Accelerate stormed his way to the wire at Churchill Downs to give trainer John Saddler his first-ever Breeders’ Cup win in 45 starts. The 5-year-old Hronis Racing stallion lost out on Horse of the Year to Justify, finished third in the Pegasus World Cup the following January and then retired to stud at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky.

How is Santa Anita celebrating the 10th anniversary of Zenyatta’s Breeders’ Cup Classic win? “Queen Zenyatta” will be highlighted throughout the weekend. In 2009, she became the first mare to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The win reached beyond horse racing, with Queen Z coming in second to Lindsay Vonn for AP’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2010.

After a stunning 19-1-0 record in 20 career starts, Zenyatta was retired in 2010 and currently lives at Lane’s End Farm. Though she hasn’t had any racing success as a breeder, her first foal, Cozmic One, competed in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover and is an ambassador for racehorses starting for new careers.