By Gene Kershner
ARCADIA, Ca. – The first day of the Breeders’ Cup (BC) World Championship thoroughbred racing delivered some big winners, highlighted by Royal Delta’s historic win in the Ladies’ Classic. It was the second straight Ladies’ Classic victory for the Empire Maker 4-year-old. She covered the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:48.80 after setting some serious early fractions of 22.69 and 45.81. Royal Delta paid $5.40 to win, $3.40 to place and $2.60 to show.
Jockey Mike Smith won his third consecutive Classic as he won on Royal Deltalast year (Ladies) and on Drosselmeyer in the BC Classic and will look to extend that string to four aboard Mucho Macho Man in tomorrow’s big $5M race. Trainer Bill Mott set two records with the victory, winning his fifth Ladies’ Classic and his third straight.
My Miss Aureliafinished second and paid $5.80 to place and $4 to show. Include Me Out finished third and paid $5.20 to show while completing a $2 trifecta. The $0.50 Pick-4 returned $885.80 to winning ticket holders and the $2 Pick-6 paid a whopping $773,865.20.
The first three BC races delivered winners at 15-1, 17-1 and 11-1, as bettors Trainer D. Wayne Lukas won his 19th Breeders’ Cup race with long shot Hightail ($32.80) that nosed out the favored Merit Man and survived a steward’s inquiry in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint. Lukas was pumped after the race. “I just thought that we had a great shot. These races are historically very fast up front. We’re a good closer and I thought we had a shot,” said the 78-year-old trainer. Hightail finished the 6-furlong race in 1:09.75.
The BC Marathon was won by the Argentinean horse Calidoscopio ($36.40) who closed late to beat Grassy in an upset. He was the oldest horse to ever win a Breeders’ Cup race at the age of nine. Aaron Gryder, a Dubai World Cup winning jockey, won his first Breeders’ Cup and was ecstatic about the win. “This is a world championship race, it’s a great thing to be able to win one of our best races here in America and it goes along with the World Cup, it definitely matches that,” said the winning jockey.
Flotilla ($24.80) kept the bombs coming with a hard charging late close in the Juvenile Fillies Turf for trainer Mikel Delzangles. Bona Venture Stables’ Summer of Fun finished third and paid $19.40 for the show. Jockey Ramon Dominguez had nowhere to run on Summer of Fun. “I was in behind horses, tracking the favorite (Sky Lantern) and I had to wait. I think if we had gotten out before the eighth pole, she could have gotten second,” said New York’s leading rider.
Summer of Fun’s trainer George Weaver was pleased with the effort. “I knew she was better than 40-1. I wasn’t surprised that she finished third and wouldn’t have been surprised if she won. She will continue to get better.” Managing partner Dan Collins was pleased with the finish and the result. “She ran a great race, she just couldn’t get through.” What’s next for Summer of Fun? She ships on Tuesday to Florida and George will decide whether to keep her in training,” said Collins.
Things settled down a little in the Juvenile Fillies when Beholder ($9.80) took them gate-to-wire holding off 3-2 post time favorite Executiveprivilege, who drifted out in the stretch on jockey Rafael Bejarano. It was the first graded stakes win for the 2-year-old Henny Hughes filly. It was the 13th Breeders’ Cup win for jockey Garret Gomez.
The Chad Brown-trained Zagora ($20.40) took over at the sixteenth pole and never looked back to win the BC Filly and Mare Turf. Javier Castellano broke a lengthy winless steak in the Breeders’ Cup in the irons on Zagora.
The track played very fair today and speed held most of the day. Check back here tomorrow for where I’ll be live blogging starting with the first Breeders’ Cup race. Good luck!