The final race on the first day of the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs turned into a battle of 3-year-olds. It's Tricky ran second while Plum Pretty, who led much of the way, faded from contention to finish out of the money. The best of the older fillies and mares, Pachattack, rallied late to finish third.
Royal Delta rated just behind the leaders along the outside into the turn, took the lead from It's Tricky at the 16th pole and drew clear. The daughter of Empire Maker out of the A.P. Indy mare Delta Princess got the 1 1/8 miles on a "good" Churchill Downs main track in 1:50.78 with Jose Lezcano up for trainer Bill Mott.
The Ladies' Classic emphasis shifted to the 3-year-old fillies when the two older competitors -- Havre de Grace and Blind Luck -- dropped from contention. Havre de Grace, pursuing Horse of the Year honors, is running in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Saturday. Blind Luck ran poorly in her last race and is being sold.
Royal Delta finished second to Havre de Grace in her last race, the Beldame at Belmont Park. Before that, she duked it out with It's Tricky and Plum Pretty in the major 3-year-old filly races. Plum Pretty won the Kentucky Oaks. It's Tricky took the Coaching Club American Oaks and Royal Delta won the Alabama at Saratoga.
The Ladies' Classic wound up the first of two days of Breeders' Cup World Championship races. The other events:
Perfect Shirl rallied wide around the leaders and won a multinational sprint to the wire in Friday's $2 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. The Canadian-based, 4-year-old daughter of Perfect Soul got home 3/4 length better than the previously undefeated and British-based Nahrain.
Another foreigner, Irish-trained Misty For Me, finished third, a nose farther back, and Distorted Legacy was a head back in fourth. Perfect Shirl with John Velazquez in the irons, ran the 1 3/8 miles on "good" turf in 2:18.62. Perfect Shirl had not won a race in more than a year before Friday's triumph but had been knocking on the door. In her last start, she finished second in her last race and third in the two previous.
Announce, a British-based and French-trained filly, suffered a minor injury in the post parade and was scratched. Dynaslew, who led early in the race but finished last, was taken off the course by ambulance after showing signs of lameness. The extent of her issues was not immediately known.
Secret Circle survived a late rally by Shumoos to win the inaugural running of the $500,000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint by a length. Secret Circle, the odds-on favorite, remained undefeated in three career starts despite tiring and drifting out in deep stretch while Shumoss, an English invader, put in a good run down the rail. Holdin Bullets finished third. With Rafael Bejarano up for trainer Bob Baffert, Secret Circle, a Kentucky-bred son of Eddington, ran the 6 furlongs over a drying track rated "good" in 1:10.52.
Stephanie's Kitten overtook pacesetting Stopshoppingmaria in the stretch run to win the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf by 3/4 length. Sweet Cat finished third in the 1-mile event, run over turf rated "good" after Thursday's rains. With John Velazquez riding, Stephanie's Kitten ran just off the early pace, got through along the inside midway down the Churchill Down stretch and came outside the leader to surge to the lead. She finished in 1:38.80.
Musical Romance rallied late to post a big upset win in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. With Juan Leyva riding his first Breeders Cup race, the 4-year-old filly raced behind the pace, came through along the rail to take a good lead in the lane and held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Switch. Her Smile, a long shot owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, also ran well late to take third. Musical Romance, despite finishing in the top three in each of her eight previous races, paid $42.40 to win. The favorite, Turbulent Descent, had traffic problems, led early in the stretch run but faded to finish fifth.
My Miss Aurelia surged to the lead early in the stretch run and jetted off to win Friday's $2 million Juvenile Fillies by 3 lengths. The Louisiana-bred filly, with Corey Nakatani riding, remained undefeated in four starts, now including three graded stakes, and becomes an early favorite for next year's Kentucky Oaks. Grace Hall finished second and Weemissfrankie was third. Each of them also had been undefeated in three previous starts. My Miss Aurelia, a daughter of Smart Strike, finished the 1 1/16 miles on a track rated "good" in 1:46.00.