In a race worthy of its name, The Kathy Ritvo trained Mucho Macho Man held off the late running Will Take Charge and the European invader Declaration of War to win the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Saturday.
It was a breathtaking finish to an exciting day of racing that had so many storylines it is tough to figure out where to start.
Ritvo become the first female trainer to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens capped off an outstanding two days, winning both the $2 million Distaff and the Classic just 10 months after coming back to the track after being retired for seven years.
For the second year in a row the Bob Baffert trained Game On Dude came into the Classic as the betting favorite with a chance of wrapping up Horse of the Year honors and the gelding came up short again. He never seemed to get untracked in a ninth place finish.
“The point I knew my horse wasn’t going to get it was on the backside when Gary (Stevens) came to me,” jockey Mike Smith said. “I squeezed him a little to put some distance between us and I couldn’t. I knew I was in trouble right then.”
Despite the poor showing by Game On Dude in the Classic and Royal Delta in the Distaff, Smith had an outstanding Breeders’ Cup. The Hall of Fame rider won the Marathon (G2) on London Bridge and the Juvenile Turf (G1) on Outstrip on Friday and on Saturday won the Turf Sprint (G1) aboard Mizdirection, and missed in the Sprint (G1) by a neck aboard Laugh Track.
Baffert: From Tragedy to Triumph
Trainer Bob Baffert had been struggling in the Breeders Cup, going 0 for 9 last year. Things did not get any better in the Juvenile Fillies (G1) as Secret Compass broke down on the far turn. The incident sent jockey John Velazquez to the hospital where he had surgery to remove his spleen.
Baffert did rebound, winning the Juvenile (G1) with New Year ’s Day in an upset, the colt returning $23.00 and then the Hall of Fame trainer saddled Secret Circle ($7.00) who won the Sprint (G1) in just his second start off an 18-month layoff.
Clones Cash in Turf Sprint Again
Mizdirection, owned in part by Jim Rome’s Jungle Stables was successful in defending her title in the Turf Sprint (G1) with a game win by a half-length, returning $7.40.
The mare was making her first start off a 5 ½ month layoff, and she won the race last year off a similar layoff.
The mare is trained by Mike Puype, who did a masterful job of training this mare the last two years. Of all the stories coming out of the Breeders’ Cup this year, I do not thin k there is a trainer that is overlooked more than Puype.
Is this not one of the greatest training feats in Breeders’ Cup history?
After winning three of the five Breeders’ Cup races on Friday (they had no runner sin the Dirt Mile and Distaff) they came right back for more on Saturday.
Dank and Romantica ran one-two in the Filly & Mare Turf (G1), combining for a $23.20 exacta. Then in the Turf (G1) Magician and The Fugue ran one-two, the $2 exacta returning $73.40.
Olympic Glory was a disappointing ninth in the Mile (G1) at 9-2, the biggest disappointment among the overseas shippers.
Finally, Declaration of War ran a solid race in the Classic, beaten just a nose and a head for the top spot.
Turf ‘n’ Sport Subscribers Cash
We had a good day on Saturday with seven recommended exactas on the 12-race card, with payoffs of $53.50, $19.00, $23.30, $58.00, $66.20, $107.80, and $33.60.
If you boxed my top three contenders in the Turf that would have made it eight, the $2 exacta paying $73.40.
Things could have been much better if Secret Compass had not broken down as she appeared to be making a move on the far turn along the inside and if She’s a Tiger had not been disqualified (it cost me the Pick 5).
Speed Bias Disappears
After the ridiculous speed bias on Friday, something that had been prevalent on most days the last couple of weeks at Santa Anita, the racing surface was fast but fair to all running types on Saturday.
I was happy to see the track play fairer on Saturday as I would have led the lynch mob for the track superintendent’s head if the speed bias would have continued.
The Pick 5
With the big carryover in the Pick 5, the final pool for Saturday was an amazing $6.4 million. The winners paid $15.60, $12.00, $6.60, $66.00, and $5.00.
The Pick 5 paid $23,665.90. After getting disqualified with She’s a Tiger in the fourth race, I am going to have a few sleepless nights. Instead of the $66.00 winner She’s a Tiger would have paid $12.40. I’m not sure what the Pick 5 payoff would have been, maybe five or six grand?
Wagering Handle Up 11%
Handle on Saturday’s 12-race card totaled $109,183,731, up 13% from $96,685,567 in 2012 at Santa Anita. With wagering on Friday, Nov. 1, up 8% from last year, the two-day handle of $160,704,877 was up 11% from $144,272,332 in 2012.
On-track handle for the two days at Santa Anita was $21,043,110, up 2% from $20,680,143 last year.
Despite one fewer Breeders’ Cup race this year, handle was up. Handleon 14 races this year was $136,539,014, up 7% from $127,676,366 for 15 races in 2012.
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