Knicks Go, ridden by Joel Rosario, wins the Breeders Cup Classic during the Breeders' Cup Championships at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar Calif., on Saturday. Photo by Mark Abraham/UPI | License Photo
DEL MAR, Calif., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Knicks Go won Saturday's $6 million Grade Longines Breeders' Cup Classic in a laugher, leading all the way to a 2 3/4-length win and a certain U.S. Horse of the Year title.
The 5-year-old son of Paynter showed a trio of 3-year-old rivals how it's done. With Joel Rosario up, he jumped right out of the No. 5 stall in the Del Mar starting gate, established his superiority the first time down the stretch and was never in any trouble.
Rosario got him home in 1:59.47 in a hand ride for the striking gray's fourth straight win and fifth of the year. His 2021 tally also includes fourth-place finishes in the Grade I Met Mile and the $20 million Saudi Cup.
Trailing him home in the Classic were Medina Spirit, whose Kentucky Derby victory is still under review because of a positive drug test; Essential Quality, whose only loss in nine previous starts came in the Derby; and Hot Rod Charlie, third in the Derby and winner of the Grade I Haskell and the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby.
Essential Quality would have had claim to be named Horse of the Year with a win. But, with Luis Saez in the irons, he couldn't seem to make much headway through the early part of the race and was never a threat for the win.
Essential Quality is owned by Godolphin, the Dubai-based racing operation of Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, which won three turf races on the two-day Breeders' Cup program.
Knicks Go is owned by the Korea Racing Authority and his name refers not to the NBA team, but to a proprietary computerized mating program developed by the authority. He is slated to go to stud in the spring, but his success resulted in his being booked to his second career in Kentucky rather than in Korea.