In the closing yards of the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic Arrogate beat the favorite California Chrome. The Breeders’ Cup World Championships mark the end of the season in US Thoroughbred racing.
At the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park, California on Saturday, three-year-old Arrogate ridden by Mike Smith stole the limelight from the favorite, the five-year-old California Chrome as he stormed to the finish line in the $6 million (5.39 million-euro) Breeders' Cup Classic.
Jockey Mike Smith said the result showed the "relentless" nature of the Khalid bin Abdullah owned Arrogate, It was a record 25th Breeders' Cup victory for Smith.
"I thought there was no chance turning for home that he could catch Chrome," trainer Bob Baffert admitted after the win.
It was California Chrome's first loss in seven starts this year. He won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2014, when he fell short of a Triple Crown with a fourth place in the Belmont.
A disappointed jockey, Victor Espinoza said after the race "I was cruising on the lead. He was doing it so easy, so comfortable," Espinoza said. "Maybe I should have opened it up a little bit early."
"You saw two champions run," said Art Sherman, California Chrome's 79-year-old trainer. "What can I say? We got outrun on the fair. No excuses. He ran his eyeballs out."
Keen Ice, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano, was third, 10 3/4 lengths back. Hoppertunity, also trained by Baffert in California, was fourth. Melatonin finished fifth, followed by Frosted, Effinex, War Story and Win the Space, who didn't finish.
The Breeders' Cup Classic, run over 1 1/4 miles, is open to horses aged three years or older and is limited to 14 starters.
Final day surprises
Also on the final day of the two-day Breeders Cup event, Seamus Heffernan delivered his finest moment in the saddle when he guided Highland Reel from the front to win the Turf in 2:23 minutes. Irish-bred Highland Reel, rolled to a 1 3/4-length victory over 9-5 favorite Flintshire, who was North America's best hope in the race.
Italian jockey Frankie Dettori also had a first-rate ride to get Queen's Trust up ahead of 8-5 favorite Lady Eli in the $2-million Filly & Mares race. The Italian jockey entertained the crowd with his patented leap from the saddle after becoming the first European winner at this year's Breeders' Cup.
In the Juvenile, Classic Empire held off the late thrust of Not This Time, making him the winter favorite for next year's Kentucky Derby. Meanwhile, in the in the $1 million Turf Sprint, Obviously edged Om by a nose , securing his first Cup race victory in five tries at the age of eight.
Drefong won the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Sprint by 1 1/4 lengths for Bob Baffert, who earned his record fifth victory in the race. The Hall of Fame trainer also won the Sprint in 1992, 2007, 2008 and 2013.
Champagne Room was a first Breeders' Cup winner for trainer Peter Eurton when she was an upset winner of the Juvenile Fillies.
ksb/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters)