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Every sport has a definitive year-ending event to crown its champions. In Thoroughbred racing, the Breeders' Cup World Championships is the culmination of the horse racing season worldwide and the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic is the defining event of the international racing season.
|Distance:||1 1/4 Miles||Age:||3+|
Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's Vino Rosso found vindication on Saturday when he uncorked an explosive turn of foot and shot past McKinzie in mid-stretch to win $6 million Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 10 as the 9/2 third choice under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Vino Rosso tracked the pace from fourth within a handful of lengths. Up front, War of Will posted opening fractions of :23.09, :47.16, and 1:10.71.
Vino Rosso bided his time and waited to launch his attack until he was heading into the far turn. Meanwhile, McKinzie - the 5/2 favorite who had been stalking War of Will closely alongside Mongolian Groom - took the lead at the top of the turn and slowly inched ahead. Vino Rosso's momentum took him three-wide around Mongolian Groom and a fading War of Will, putting him within a 1/2-length of the bettors' choice at the top of the stretch.
Collaring McKinzie at the 1/8 pole, Vino Rosso quickly powered past and drew clear in the stretch. As his rider rose in the saddle victoriously, Vino Rosso crossed 4 1/4 lengths the best in a final time of 2:02.80 for the 1 1/4-mile event over the fast main track.
"He was moving in the turn so, so good," said Ortiz, Jr. "He was moving so good at McKinzie. Going into the first turn, I had to use him a little bit. Going onto the backside, I said, 'I've got a good chance if McKinzie is going to come back to me at the distance.' That worked out good. He came back to me and my horse responded to me the way I expected him to, and he won off on his own at the end."
Though surpassed by the winner, McKinzie was 4 1/4 lengths clear of Higher Power. The race's lone mare Elate made her way to fourth after running near the rear for much of the event.
Math Wizard necked out Seeking the Soul for fifth, with Code of Honor just a nose behind in seventh. Yoshida, War of Will, and Owendale completed the order of finish. Mongolian Groom took a bad step near the top of the stretch and was pulled up before being vanned off.*
Vino Rosso's win was his first since shipping in and taking the local Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1) on May 27 and improved his overall record to 15-6-1-3. The 4-year-old son of Curlin, purchased for $410,000 as a yearling, has now amassed $4,803,125 in career earnings.
"This is unbelievable," said co-owner Mike Repole. "Indescribable. We've won so many graded stakes, but this one feels different. This is the one. This is the pinnacle." Vino Rosso returned $11.20 to win, $5.80 to place, and $4 to show. McKinzie brought back $4.80 to place and $3.60 to show, while Higher Power paid $6 to show.
The Breeders' Cup Classic, run at 1 1/4 miles, draws the top international Thoroughbreds year after year. It is open to horses 3-years-old and older and is limited to 14 starters. Seven of this year's starters will gain automatic entries into the race by qualifying through Breeders' Cup Challenge series.
Race 12 at Santa Anita on Saturday, November 02 - Post 8:44 PM
|1||Math Wizard||30-1||Ricardo Santana, Jr.
|Saffie Joseph, Jr.|
|2||Seeking the Soul||20-1||Brian Hernandez, Jr.
|4||War of Will||20-1||Tyler Gaffalione
|5||Yoshida (JPN)||8-1||Mike Smith
|7||Higher Power||6-1||Flavien Prat
|9||Mongolian Groom||12-1||Abel Cedillo
|10||Vino Rosso||4-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|11||Code of Honor||4-1||John Velazquez
|Claude McGaughey III|
The $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), the climactic event of the Championships, will be run on the main track at 1 1/4 miles with a first-place owner's prize of $3.3 million with purse payouts down to eighth place.
On 13 occasions, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic also has been named the Horse of the Year, and this year's Classic will once again have ramifications on the coveted year-end title. The race features a battle of West Coast star McKinzie, trained by Bob Baffert, and the leading horse from the East Coast in Code of Honor - the top two rated stars in the final Breeders' Cup Classic Rankings for this year.
This year, the 4-year-old McKinzie, owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, has won the Alysheba Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs and earned an automatic berth into the Classic by winning the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga in August. A son of the 2006 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Street Sense, McKinzie also was second in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park, and was runner-up in the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita on Sept. 28. McKinzie is trained by Bob Baffert, who won an unprecedented three consecutive runnings of the Classic (2014-2016) with Bayern, American Pharoah and Arrogate. McKinzie finished 12th in last year's Classic at Churchill Downs.
William S. Farish's 3-year-old Code of Honor, trained by Shug McGaughey, has come on strong during the second half of the year. Following a runner-up finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Code of Honor won the Dwyer Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park and swept to a three-length win in the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. In his most recent start, he was second to Vino Rosso in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont but was awarded first place because of interference in the stretch. Code of Honor earned an automatic Breeders' Cup Challenge berth with his Gold Cup win.
Additional intrigue for the Classic is brought to the forefront with the pre-entry of Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm's 5-year-old mare Elate. Seeking to be the first female to win the Classic since Zenyatta in 2009, Elate has won at the 1 ¼-mile Classic distance three times in her career. This year, the bay daughter of Medaglia d'Oro has won both the Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs and the Delaware Handicap (G2). Elate is trained by Bill Mott, who saddled Breeders' Cup Classic winners Cigar in 1995 and Drosselmeyer in 2011.
Grade 1 winners abound in this year's Classic field, including East Coast invader Vino Rosso for Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable. A 4-year-old son of 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Curlin, Vino Rosso, trained by Todd Pletcher, has a win over the track, taking the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) in May. He was third in the Whitney behind McKinzie and crossed the line first in the Jockey Club Gold Cup before being placed second.
Hronis Racing's 4-year-old Higher Power earned an automatic berth into the Classic with a rousing 5 ¼-length win in the TVG Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar on Aug. 17. Trained by John Sadler, who won last year's Classic with Accelerate, Higher Power finished third in the Awesome Again Stakes.
The surprising winner of the 1 1/8-mile Awesome Again was 25-1 Mongolian Groom, who swept by odds-on favorite McKinzie at the top of the stretch and powered home to a 2 ¼-length victory. Owned by Mongolian Stable and trained by Enebish Ganbat, Mongolian Groom won his first career graded-stakes race, and earned an automatic berth into the Classic with his Awesome Again triumph. He had finished fifth in the Woodward (G1) and third in the Pacific Classic in his two previous starts.
Another Classic starter who shocked the racing world on the East Coast is the Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained 3-year-old Math Wizard, who came from far off the pace to claim the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx Racing in September at 31-1. Preakness Stakes (G1) winner War of Will, Seeking the Soul, who captured the "Win and You're In" Stephen Foster (G2); Yoshida (JPN), second in the Whitney, and Owendale, winner of the Ohio Derby (G3) and Oklahoma Derby (G3), also have been pre-entered for the Classic.
|Breeders' Cup Race||Grade||Purse||Date|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint||II||$1,000,000||November 1|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf||I||$1,000,000||November 1|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies||I||$2,000,000||November 1|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf||I||$1,000,000||November 1|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile||I||$2,000,000||November 1|
|Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint||I||$1,000,000||November 2|
|Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint||I||$1,000,000||November 2|
|Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile||I||$1,000,000||November 2|
|Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf||I||$2,000,000||November 2|
|Breeders' Cup Sprint||I||$2,000,000||November 2|
|Breeders' Cup Mile||I||$2,000,000||November 2|
|Breeders' Cup Distaff||I||$2,000,000||November 2|
|Breeders' Cup Turf||I||$4,000,000||November 2|
|Breeders' Cup Classic||I||$6,000,000||November 2|
|2019||Vino Rosso||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Todd Pletcher||2:02.80|
|2018||Accelerate||Joel Rosario||John Sadler||2:02.93|
|2017||Gun Runner||Florent Geroux||Steve Asmussen||2:01.29|
|2016||Arrogate||Mike Smith||Bob Baffert||2:00.11|
|2015||American Pharoah||Victor Espinoza||Bob Baffert||2:00.07|
|2014||Bayern||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||1:59.88|
|2013||Mucho Macho Man||Gary L. Stevens||Katherine Ritvo||2:00.72|
|2012||Fort Larned||Brian Hernandez||Ian Wilkes||2:00.11|
|2011||Drosselmeyer||Mike E. Smith||William I. Mott||2:04.27|
|2010||Blame||Garrett Gomez||Albert M. Stall, Jr.||2:02.28|
|2009||Zenyatta||Mike E. Smith||John Shirreffs||2:00.32|
|2008||Raven's Pass||Frankie Dettori||John Gosden||1:59.27|
|Race Tracks||Time (EST)|