Many of the established equine stars, including several champions, either are on their way to breeding careers or on the bubble after disappointing performances. And the weekend's juvenile races at Santa Anita showcased some potential future champions as the ever-spinning thoroughbred turnstile whirred.
But among the riders, older seemed to be better as American veterans Mike Smith and Gary Stevens and European champion Ryan Moore were the stars of the show although Martin Garcia, a top California jockey, did pick up his first two Breeders' Cup wins.
Two repeat winners on Saturday's card, Mizdirection in the Turf Sprint and Groupie Doll in the Filly & Mare Sprint, already were back in Kentucky Sunday and preparing for sales this month. Irish runner Declaration of War is ticketed for the breeding shed in his home country after a game third-place finish in the Classic.
Game On Dude, who flopped for the second straight year in the Classic, is a gelding and may go on. But Royal Delta, the two-time champion in the Distaff, capped her disappointing year with a fourth-place finish in her third try in that event. Trainer Bill Mott hinted it might be time for her to embark on the next stage of her career.
Meanwhile, the older jockeys just rolled on.
Smith, 48, won three races on the Breeders' Cup card -- the Marathon on London Bridge, the Turf Sprint aboard Mizdirection and the Juvenile Turf on Outstrip. That advanced his win total to 20 in the 30th running of the Breeders' Cup World Championships -- by far the most of any jockey. He also was second in the Sprint on Laugh Track, just missing at the end to Secret Circle.
Stevens, 50, returned this year from a seven-year retirement from riding during which he worked as a television analyst and starred in the movie "Seabiscuit" and the television series "Luck." He had a good year and capped it at the Breeders' Cup with two wins, two seconds that could/should have been wins and a third. The victories came in the two biggest races of the weekend -- the Classic on Mucho Macho Man and the Distaff aboard Beholder.
"This was a tremendous experience to win this race at my age," Stevens said after his first Classic win. "I never expected to be in this situation. This is the ultimate feeling. It's the icing on the cake of my career."
Ryan Moore, three-time champion English rider, scored in the Turf with Magician and the Filly & Mare Turf with Dank. He is off to Australia to ride Dandino in Tuesday's Group 1 Melbourne Cup.
Garcia won two for trainer Bob Baffert -- the Juvenile on New Year's Day and the Sprint on Secret Circle. "This means a lot to me," he said, "because I don't have that much experience in these big races and I think it's going to open a lot of doors for me -- and Mr. Bob to give me more opportunities like these." Asked about his instructions from Baffert before the Juvenile win, he said with a laugh, "He told me you need to win. If you don't win, don't come back. Just keep going around."
"I'm glad Martin got a chance to shine on a big day like this," Baffert said."
The hard-luck story of the weekend was John Velazquez, who was injured when his mount, Secret Compass, took a fatal fall in the first race on Saturday's card. Velazquez required surgery to remove his spleen and will recover. But he missed the rest of the card, including giving up to Jose Lezcano the winning ride on reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Mile.
"This one's for John Velazquez, who was really keen to ride the horse," said Wise Dan's trainer, Charles LoPresti. "But we had every confidence in Jose and we had to go to Plan B."
In the Filly & Mare Sprint, Velazquez was replaced by Luis Saez aboard Judy the Beauty, who finished second. Assistant trainer Blake Heap said the switch may have cost the filly the win by putting her in a position she didn't like on the inside. "We lost our jock and this rider didn't know her," Heap said. Saez said he was forced inside by the winner, Groupie Doll.
Here's how the races went under sunny skies and balmy temperatures at Santa Anita in the 30th running of the Breeders' Cup World Championships:
$5 million Classic
Mucho Macho Man rallied to the lead turning for home and held on gamely in the final strides to win by a nose over Will Take Charge in a classic Classic finish. English runner Declaration of War finished third while last year's winner, Fort Larned, faded in the final furlong to finish fourth. Mucho Macho Man, a 5-year-old son of Macho Uno, ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.72 with Gary Stevens up for trainer Kathy Ritvo. The result kept two of the world's top trainers winless in the Classic with Declaration of War representing Aidan O'Brien and Bob Baffert's duo of Game On Dude and Paynter finishing well out of the running.
$2 million Mile (turf)
The reigning U.S. Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, repeated last year's victory in this race and, coupled with the failures of Game On Dude in the Classic and Royal Delta in the Distaff, may have earned an encore for the year's top honor. With Jose Lezcano subbing, as he has in the past, for injured John Velazquez, Wise Dan stumbled at the start and raced farther back than he normally does. But he closed determinedly through the stretch, caught Za Approval nearing the finish and won by 3/4 of a length in 1:32.47. Silentio was third at a big price. Owner Morton Fink said he is not considering retiring the 6-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding. "As long as he goes, I'll go with him," Fink said.
$1.5 million Sprint
Secret Circle took the lead in the stretch and held off a desperate bid by Laugh Track to win by a neck over that rival. Secret Circle, a 4-year-old Eddington colt, parked behind the early leaders in the 6-furlong dash over the Santa Anita main track. He swung very wide into the stretch and powered to the lead, then was all out to hold on by a neck while drifting in. Secret Circle was clocked in 1:08.73 as Gentlemen's Bet finished third and long shot Majestic Stride settled for fourth. Secret Circle won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint last fall at Santa Anita and trainer Bob Baffert stretched him out in an effort to get to the Kentucky Derby. That didn't work out and he was idle for five months before winning his return race on Oct. 14. "Bobby [Baffert] did a great job getting him here after the layoff," said part-owner Paul Weitma. "One race and we're here. We're thrilled."
$3 million Turf
Magician led a foreign sweep, getting up in the final strides for a well-timed win. The 3-year-old colt, from Ireland, got by the English-based filly The Fugue to score by a half length. Indy Point, an Argentine-bred runner, finished third. Point of Entry was fourth, the best showing of any U.S. runner in the 1 1/2-mile test over the firm Santa Anita turf. Magician, a 12-1 long shot, finished in 2:23.23 with Ryan Moore up for trainer Aidan O'Brien. The son of leading European sire Galileo won the Group 1 Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh in May but then was never a factor in his only intervening race, the Group 1 St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. Overall, he now has four wins from eight career starts. Last year's winner, Little Mike, finished seventh.
$2 million Juvenile
Although winners of this race have a dismal record as Kentucky Derby candidates, they usually start the new year among the favorites. This year's candidate, New Year's Day, found running room on the rail in deep stretch in Saturday's Juvenile, shot through and won by 1 1/4 lengths over the favorite, previously undefeated Havana. Strong Mandate finished third. New Year's Day, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Garcia, got the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.52. It was his second win, following a maiden victory at Del Mar in August. The Street Cry colt, owned by Gary and Mary West, went to the post at 10-1 odds. "This is pretty special," Gary West said. "Now I've got something to look forward to in the 3-year-old races" next year.
$1 million Turf Sprint
Mizdirection closed relentlessly down the stretch Saturday to win for the second straight year. Advancing outside the early leaders, the 5-year-old Mizzen Mast mare edged ahead in the final 100 yards and won by a half length. Reneesgotzip, who led most of the way, finished in a dead heat with Tightend Touchdown for second and third. Unbridled's Note was fourth. Mizdirection ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course under Mike Smith in 1:12.25 -- a relatively moderate time after a very quick early pace. Mizdirection had won four straight races before a fifth-place finish in her last start, the Grade I Just a Gleam Stakes at Belmont Park, when she tried the mile over yielding turf. She is due to be sold later this month.
$1 million Filly & Mare Sprint
Groupie Doll made it two in a row in this event, winning Saturday's renewal in a tight stretch duel. The 5-year-old Bowman's Band mare, racing wide all the way from the No. 11 post position, went to the lead at the top of the stretch under Rajiv Maragh and Judy the Beauty, closing on her outside, could not quite reach equal terms. Dance Card finished third. The 7 furlongs over the fast Santa Anita main track took 1:20.75. The victory was Groupie Doll's 11th in 21 starts and moved her career winnings past the $2 million mark. She also is scheduled to be sold at auction later this month.
$2 million Filly & Mare Turf
Dank took the lead turning for home and held on to win by a half length over Romantica. Alterite finished third in a 1-2-3 sweep for horses who started their season in Europe. Emollient finished fourth, the best showing of any American distaffer in a race often dominated by foreign starters. Dank won the Grade I Beverly D. at Arlington Park in August in her first U.S. start. Saturday, she was always close under jockey Ryan Moore. Emollient took the lead around the final turn but Moore kicked Dank into gear and she was quickly in front and none of the others could make up any ground. The 1 1/4 miles on firm Santa Anita turf took 1:58.73. Winning owner James Wigan said he hopes to keep Dank in training. "I'd love to come back," he said in the winner's circle. The Breeders' Cup returns to Santa Anita in 2014 for its third straight year at the Southern California oval.
$2 million Juvenile Fillies
Ria Antonia won on a disqualification after a tight stretch battle in a race further marred by the fatal breakdown of Secret Compass. She's a Tiger, who led all the way and got home first by a narrow margin, was set down to second after drifting out in the final yards, bumping lightly with Ria Antonia. Rosalind stumbled at the start, then came from far back to finish third in the 1 1/16-mile race. She's a Tiger, a Tale of the Cat Filly with Gary Stevens up, finished in 1:43.02. Ria Antonia, a Rockport Harbor filly who went to the post at odds of 32-1, was ridden by Javier Castellano. It was only her second win, following a maiden victory over the Woodbine all-weather course in July.
$2 million Distaff
Beholder exploded in the stretch drive to score an emphatic win, denying Royal Delta, who finished fourth, a third straight victory in this event. Close Hatches was second, 4 1/4 lengths behind the winner, with Authenticity third. Princess of Sylmar, the nation's leading 3-year-old filly before Friday's race, finished last of six. Beholder had finished second to Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks and divisional honors now are up for grabs. Beholder, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Henny Hughes, sat just behind Authenticity and Royal Delta as that duo contested the early lead. On the stretch turn, Authenticity put away Royal Delta. But when veteran jockey Gary Stevens gave Beholder her cue, Authenticity had no answer. Beholder, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and this year's Santa Anita Oaks, finished the 1 1/8 miles on a fast and generally speed-favoring Santa Anita track in 1:47.77. "This is the best race she's ever run," Stevens said. "I was hoping that Authenticity would carry the lead a little farther but she [Beholder] moved up nice, went by her easy and then really opened up." Winning owner B. Wayne Hughes, asked about the championship implications of the race, said, "Champions are made by beating champions ... . I think she's done enough." Asked if he plans to keep Beholder in training next year, he said, joking with Mandella, "Well, if I can get a trainer, I'll do it."
$1 million Juvenile Turf
Outstrip came roaring down the stretch to snatch victory by 3/4 of a length from Giovanni Boldini, who looked like a winner at the sixteenth pole. Bobby's Kitten, the favorite and the pacesetter, held on well to finish third. With jockey Mike Smith providing the urging, Outstrip finished the mile on firm turf in 1:33.20. Smith kept Outstrip well back of the leaders until his dramatic rush down the stretch. "The trip was really good," he said. "I managed to get covered up, just make my way and follow the right horses." Outstrip, a British-bred colt by Exceed and Excel, represents the Dubai-based Godolphin Racing. He is expected to winter in England and contest the English classics in the springtime -- unless Sheik Mohammed decides he wants to take another serious swing at the Kentucky Derby, which so far has eluded his best efforts.
$1 million Dirt Mile
Goldencents set a blistering early pace, then easily held on to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Golden Ticket. Brjuo de Olleros was third as the mile went in 1:35.12. Rafael Bejarano rode the winner. Goldencents, an Into Mischief colt, won the Santa Anita Derby over the same track this spring but then was 17th in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness Stakes. After that, trainer Doug O'Neill restricted him to shorter races and he posted three straight seconds in graded stakes. Going back around two turns and at a mile, O'Neill said, he was a little worried about the fast pace Goldencents was setting. He said he expects Goldencents to stay in training for at least another year, adding, "We have a lot of options for him."
$1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf
Irish-bred Chriselliam kicked clear in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Testa Rossi, a French-bred filly. Colonel Joan did the best of the U.S. contenders, getting home third, another half length in arrears. Chriselliam, a daughter of Iffraaj, ran the mile on firm turf in 1:33.72 with Richard Hughes in for the ride. She sat in mid-pack through much of the race, got room outside the leaders turning for home and found another gear for the final furlong. Hughes also rode the filly when she won the Group 1 Shadwell Fillies Mile at Newmarket in England last month. She now has three wins from six starts. "We were a bit of an outsider leading up to Newmarket," said winning trainer Charlie Hills, in his first year as a trainer. "But after you win a Group 1 and you have a filly this time of year in such good form, it seems silly, really, to have her left in the box. So we thought, well, just to make the brave decision. And here we are."
London Bridge ran by the leaders late to win Friday's $500,000, Grade II Breeders' Cup Marathon at Santa Anita. Trained in England by Jo Hughes, London Bridge was making his first U.S. start with veteran jockey Mike Smith in the irons. Smith kept the 3-year-old son of Arch out of the early fray in the 1 3/4-mile race, came wide down the stretch past the tired front runners and won by an easy length. Blueskiesnrainbows finished second and Worldly was third. The race was clocked in 2:58.27.
In other weekend racing:
Rookie Sensation saved ground into the stretch turn in Friday's $150,000, Grade II Twilight Derby, burst through between the leaders at mid-stretch and went on to win by 3/4 of a length over Gabriel Charles. Gervinho finished third. Rookie Sensation, a gray son of Unbridled's Song, ran 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:46.64 with Victor Espinoza in the irons. He won for the third time in five starts. The colt is owned by Stronach Stables and trained John Shirreffs.
Better Bet lived up to his name in winning Friday's $200,000 Golden State Juvenile for 2-year-olds, leading all the way and holding off 34-1chance Electric Eddie by a half length at the end. Tamarando, the favorite, closed well in the stretch to finish third. Better Bet, a Southern Image colt, ran the mile on a speed-favoring main track in 1:37.53 with Martin Pedroza up. It was just his second win in his ninth career start for trainer Mike Harrington.
Swiss Lake Yodler got a wide trip around both turns in Friday's $200,000 Golden State Juvenile Fillies but stayed close, went to the lead in the lane and drew off late to win by 2 lengths. Moving Desert was second with Rovenna third. With Julien Leparoux up, Swiss Lake Yodler ran the mile on a fast track in 1:37.58. The Swiss Yodler filly won at first asking, then just missed by a neck in her second start a month ago.
Zeewat got through between rivals at mid-stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Damascus Stakes for 3-year-olds, then won a tight duel with the odds-on favorite, Flashback, before prevailing by a head. Anillo finished third. Zeewat is a colt by Harlan's Holiday, who was euthanized Friday in Argentina after suffering a sudden illness. With Rafael Bejarano up, Zeewat finished the 7 furlongs in 1:20.76. He won for the sixth time in 11 starts. Flashback was making his first start for trainer Bob Baffert since finishing second in the Santa Anita Derby behind Goldencents, the winner of Friday's Grade I Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
Richies Party Girl shot to the lead in Saturday's $100,000 Juvenile Turf Sprint down the hillside course and stayed on, winning by nearly 3 lengths over a persistent Toowindytohaulrox. It was a long way back to Dothraki in third. Richies Party Girl, a filly running against colts and geldings, finished about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:12.36 with Victor Espinoza in the irons. Trained by Wesley Ward, Richies Party Girl detoured to France this summer, finishing fourth in the Group 3 Prix du Calvados at Deauville. She now has three wins from six starts.
Pontchatrain rallied on the outside in the final yards to take Saturday's $100,000 Senator Ken Maddy Stakes by 3/4 of a length over Winding Way. Judy In Disguise was third. Pontchatrain, a War Front filly ridden by Gary Stevens, finished about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:12.25, winning for the fourth time in six starts and the second straight time in a stakes race down the hill.
Majestic City led from the start in Thursday's $70,000 Big Bear Stakes, shadowed all the way by Rousing Sermon, then held off that rival at the end, winning by a neck. Drill was just a half length back in third with Soi Phet and Rail Trip both within a half length while completing the tight order of finish. Majestic City, a 4-year-old City Zip colt, ran the mile on a fast track in 1:35.20 with Edwin Maldonado up.
Egg Drop caught runaway leader E Z Kitty late in Sunday's $150,000 Goldikova Stakes for fillies and mares, then held off Miss Pippa to win by a head. Customer Base finished third. Egg Drop, a 4-year-old Alphabet Soup mare, finished the mile on firm turf in 1:33.52 under Martin Garcia.
Paladin Bay rallied from off the pace to upset Saturday's restricted $250,000 (Canadian) Princess Elizabeth Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, winning by a length over Lexie Lou. Sky High Lady finished third. Paladin Bay, a daughter of Sligo Bay, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.61 with Gerry Olguin in the irons.
Moonlit Beauty led all the way to a 25-1 upset victory in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian), Grade III Maple Leaf Stakes for fillies and mares. The favorite, Dixie Strike, came from well back to take second, 1 1/4 lengths in arrears. Sky High Lady was third. Moonlit Beauty, a 7-year-old Perigee Moon mare, ran 1 1/4 miles on the all-weather course in 2:04.89 for jockey Gary Boulanger.
Phil's Dream shadowed the leaders in Saturday's $100,000 (Canadian) Ontario Jockey Club Stakes, went by when asked and won by 1 3/4 lengths over Go Blue Or Go Home. Consolidator Joe finished third. Phil's Dream, a 5-year-old Philanthropist gelding, finished 6 furlongs on the all-weather course in 1:08.83 under Justin Stein.
Youcan'tcatchme lived up to her name in Sunday's $150,000 (Canadian), Grade III Ontario Fashion Stakes, leading all the way to a 1 1/4-lenths victory. Shrinking Violet finished second with Acting Naughty third. Youcan'tcatchme, a 4-year-old daughter of The Daddy, ran 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:10.15 with Justin Stein up.
Stopchargingmaria led all the way in Sunday's $250,000 Tempted Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, then drew off easily late and won by 10 3/4 lengths. Divided Attention beat the other three with Derek's Girl third. Stopchargingmaria, a Tale of the Cat filly, ran the mile on a fast track in 1:38.77 with Javier Castellano in the irons.
Cairo Prince took control late in Sunday's $250,000 Nashua Stakes for 2-year-olds, winning by 2 1/2 lengths over Financial Mogul. Noble Moon rallied from far back to get show money. Cairo Prince, a Pioneer of the Nile colt, got home in 1:37.59 with Luis Saez aboard.
Romansh kicked clear of seven rivals down the stretch in Saturday's $200,000, Grade III Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds, winning by 9 1/4 lengths. Norumbega was second and the favorite, Micromanage, checked in third. Romansh, a Bernardini colt, got 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.28 with Jose Ortiz up.
Don't Tell Sophia came from last of 10 to win Saturday's $150,000, Grade II Chilukki Stakes for fillies and mares by 2 1/4 lengths, going away. The favorite, Wine Princess, led briefly and held on for second with Awesome Flower third. Don't Tell Sophia, a 5-year-old Congaree mare, ran the mile on a fast track in 1:35.14 with Joe Rocco Jr. up.
Voodoo Storm stormed to the lead around the stretch turn in Saturday night's $130,000 Mountaineer Mile and kicked clear, winning by 7 3/4 lengths. Joy Boy was the best of the rest with Good Lord third. Voodoo Storm, a 5-year-old son of Storm Cat, finished the mile on a muddy track in 1:38.06 with Deshawn Parker in the irons.
Sunbean caught 40-1 long shot Redhotrush in the final strides to win Saturday night's $100,000 Gold Cup for Louisiana-breds by a neck. Populist Politics finished third. Sunbean, a 4-year-old Brahms gelding, ran the mile on a fast track in 1:38.79 under Richard Eramia.
Hawthorne Race Course
Mavericking bobbled at the start of Saturday's $100,000 Buck's Boy Handicap for Illinois-breds, then rallied four-wide into the lane and was up to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Luv Bandit. Dad Are We Here was there for third. Mavericking, a 5-year-old Empire Maker gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:46.85. The race had been scheduled for the turf and five original starters scratched, including local favorite The Pizza Man.
Polanski got to the lead with about 2 furlongs to run in Saturday's Group 1 Victoria Derby and took charge in the late going to win by 3 lengths over Complacent. Thunder Fantasy was third. Polanski, a son of Rakti, ran 1 mile, 4 1/2 furlongs on good going in 2:38.66. Trainer Robbie Laing said he bought the colt for $4,000 (Australian) because that's what he can afford. But he said the horse has answered every question and could continue to advance.
Zoustar won the 6-furlongs Coolmore Stud Stakes for 3-year-olds with relative ease, scoring by 2 lengths over Nonlistenin'tome. The win was his third in a row and keeps the new sprint sensation on course for a trip to Royal Ascot next spring. Zoustar is a son of Northern Meteor. "For me, personally," Ascot is the big aim, trainer Chris Waller told Racing Post, with an eye on the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, which was won in 2012 by Black Caviar. "Straight course racing is a new dimension for the horse but I'm sure it won't be the last time he gets to run up a straight. We just have to teach him to run up a bit of a hill at the end of it. We'll have to talk to Black Caviar and see how she did it."
News and notes
Speaking of Black Caviar, who retired undefeated in 25 starts: She reportedly is in foal to Sheik Mohammed's stallion Exceed and Excel. Australian media say breeder Rick Jamieson disclosed the news during the unveiling of a statue of the already legendary champion mare.