Top guns shocked at Breeders’ Cup


Top guns shocked at Breeders’ Cup

Steve Ginsburg

Reuters US Online Report Sports News

Nov 05, 2011 21:35 EDT

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Reuters) – The top guns at Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup took a backseat to the lesser knowns as Goldikova failed to fire in her quest for immortality while Drosselmeyer pulled a shocker in the $5 million Classic.

Goldikova, a six-year-old French mare seeking to head into retirement with an unprecedented fourth straight triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, faded in the stretch and finished third.

Despite the Churchill Downs fans cheering her every stride, trainer Freddy Head acknowledged Goldikova’s best days were behind her.

“She came out, looked like she was going to win for a moment,” said Head. “Now, I don’t think she can sustain the same speed. She does a little thing for only the half, and then she doesn’t seem to be able to follow on that.

“She’s done that the last couple of races that we’ve run with her. So you know, that’s life. Maybe the mileage and the years have taken their toll.”

Despite the disheartening setback, Goldikova’s legacy is assured, having won 17 of her 27 career starts, including 14 Group One wins, and almost $7 million in prize money.

Court Vision won the $2 million race, returning a staggering $131.60, the second-biggest for a $2 win ticket in the 28-year existence of the Breeders’ Cup.

In the Classic, Drosselmeyer defeated a star-studded field vying for the U.S. Horse of the Year title. But Drosselmeyer, whose only win this year was in a $60,000 race at Belmont Park, proved to be the class of the field.

Mike Smith, who was edged at the wire aboard Zenyatta in a crushing defeat in the 2010 Classic, piloted Drosselmeyer to the victory, moving from seventh at the top of the stretch to a one-length victory over Game On Dude.


Smith, who unabashedly cried after the Zenyatta loss, was asked after his victory on Saturday how long it took for him to get over last year’s setback.

“Until now,” he said. “I mean, that’s one that will always hurt, but this sure helps, man. It really does.”

None of the horses vying for the coveted Horse of the Year crown fared well in the 12-horse Classic, America’s richest race, run over one and one-quarter miles over the dirt.

The champion filly Havre de Grace finished fourth, race favorite Flat Out fifth, globe-trotting sensation So You Think sixth and 2010 Juvenile champ Uncle Mo 10th.

“He was mowing them down the last eighth of a mile,” said Drosselmeyer trainer Bill Mott. “I guess his biggest attribute is his stamina, and he showed it today.

“When they were wearing down, he was coming. It’s great.”

The O’Brien family had a memorable day as 18-year-old Joseph became the youngest jockey ever to win a Breeders’ Cup race when he piloted Irish raider St Nicholas Abbey — trained by his father Aidan — in the $3 million Turf.

“It’s a dream come true,” said the younger O’Brien. “Obviously, looking at all the big names and the big horses winning the best races around the world, it’s something that you dream about since I was very small.”

In other races, Caleb’s Posse came from off the pace and blew past Preakness winner Shackleford in the stretch to win the Dirt Mile while Afleet Again, a 41-1 longshot, took the $500,000 Marathon.

“I stayed behind the speed and at the quarter-pole, put him in the clear,” Afleet Again jockey Cornelio Velasquez said after his fifth career Breeders’ Cup win. “And I had a lot of horse. At the three-eighths pole I pulled the trigger.”

Hansen scored an upset victory in the $2 million Juvenile, with overwhelming favorite Union Rags finishing second by a head.

Source: Reuters US Online Report Sports News

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