LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Talk about a battle of the sexes — and a couple of exes.
Drosselmeyer, a 14-1 long shot, roared down the middle of the track and caught Game On Dude in the closing strides to win the $5 million Classic by 1½ lengths Saturday, capping a weekend of upsets at the Breeders’ Cup.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith beat his former fiance, Chantal Sutherland, who rode Game On Dude. A year ago, Smith walked off the track in tears after losing the race on superstar Zenyatta by a head.
“Chantal did a great job,” said Bob Baffert, who trains Game On Dude. “I can’t believe she got beat by Mike Smith.”
The former couple, together on and off for six years, broke up in 2010, but remain cordial, even taking part in a “Battle of the Exes” match race at Del Mar in August.
Then, and now, Smith was the winner.
“I turned the page a long time ago,” he said. “I wish everyone else would.”
Drosselmeyer ran 1¼ miles in 2:04.27 under the lights at Churchill Downs and paid $31.60 to win. Ruler On Ice was third.
Filly Havre de Grace, the 4-1 second choice, finished fourth against the boys. Flat Out, the 7-2 favorite, was fifth for 70-year-old trainer Scooter Dickey.
So You Think, the 5-1 co-third choice with Uncle Mo, was sixth. To Honor and Serve was seventh, followed by Ice Box, Rattlesnake Bridge, Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty and Headache.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott swept the weekend’s top two races, winning the $2 million Ladies’ Classic with Royal Delta on Friday. Smith tied Jerry Bailey with his 15th Breeders’ Cup victory after winning the Sprint earlier Saturday.
Sutherland appeared on her way to becoming the first female jockey to win North America’s richest race.
Instead, she was aced out by the guy whose ring she once wore.
“When I looked at the wire and I saw white I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Mike Smith. Ugh,’” she said. “But I’m very happy for Mike. That’s his 15th Breeders’ Cup so he’s a pretty good rider.”
As expected, Game On Dude went right to the front and fought off a challenge from Uncle Mo on the turn for home. Uncle Mo, last year’s BC Juvenile winner, was making a comeback from a life-threatening liver disease that knocked him out of the Triple Crown races.
After Uncle Mo briefly got his head in front, Game On Dude dispensed with him and had the lead in the stretch.
There was only one challenger left.
Smith and Drosselmeyer, the 2010 Belmont Stakes winner, were back in 10th with a quarter-mile to go. They angled to the far outside and unleashed a powerful run down the center of the track, with Game On Dude hugging the rail.
Drosselmeyer surged to the lead in the final sixteenth of a mile for only his second win since last year’s Belmont.
The Classic produced the final upset of a weekend full of surprises.
The biggest was by 64-1 shot Court Vision, who took down three-time winner Goldikova in the Mile.
Afleet Again won at 41-1 odds in the Marathon, and 18-year-old Irishman Joseph O’Brien became the youngest jockey to win a Breeders’ Cup race, taking the Turf for his father-trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Hansen upset even-money favorite Union Rags by a head in a thrilling finish to the $2 million Juvenile, tabbing the gray colt as the winter book favorite for the Kentucky Derby.
Goldikova’s bid for a record fourth consecutive win in the $2 million Mile ended in a third-place finish behind Court Vision and Turallure.
“I think the mileage and the years have taken their toll,” said Freddy Head, Goldikova’s trainer. “We had a good run. I’m very, very, very proud.”
Goldikova survived a foul claim by Patrick Valenzuela, who rode Courageous Cat and alleged interference by Goldikova’s jockey Olivier Peslier at the top of the stretch.
After several minutes, the stewards ruled the star mare from France didn’t deserve to be disqualified in her final race before retiring.
Court Vision and jockey Robby Albarado won the Mile by a nose, triggering a win payout of $131.60, second-biggest in Breeders’ Cup history behind the $269.20 Arcangues paid to win the 1993 Classic. They covered the distance on the turf in 1:37.05.
In the Juvenile, Hansen under Ramon Dominguez ran 1 1-16 miles in 1:44.44 and paid $16.20 to win at 7-1 odds while improving to 3-0. He’s named for co-owner and breeder Kendall Hansen, a doctor in Kentucky, and is trained by Mike Maker.
Union Rags lost for the first time in four starts. Creative Cause was another length back in third.
Hansen went to the front out of the gate, while Union Rags was caught wide throughout after breaking from the No. 10 post in the 13-horse field.
In the Marathon, Afleet Again rallied to win by 2¼ lengths under Cornelio Velasquez. He paid $85.20.
The younger O’Brien was aboard 6-1 longshot St Nicholas Abbey, who won the $3 million Turf by 2¼ lengths, making him the youngest jockey to win in the 28-year history of the Breeders’ Cup. The 4-year-old colt from Ireland paid $15.60 to win.
The 6-foot O’Brien isn’t expected to have a long career in flat racing. As he gets older, his height and weight gain likely will force him to change to steeplechasing.
“It’s over this world,” O’Brien said about helping his father win his second race of the day. They embraced in the winner’s circle.
“Wonderful race. Incredible,” Aidan O’Brien said. “What can I say? He’s an amazing rider.”
Joseph O’Brien has been part of family trips to the Breeders’ Cup since he was a child. He rode his first winner in May 2009, and earlier this year scored his first victory in a prestigious Group 1 race.
“My heart was going 100 miles an hour,” his mother, Anne-Marie O’Brien, said. “I could hardly stand up I was so nervous.”
St Nicholas Abbey’s victory was the second of the day for owners Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor, who won the Juvenile Turf with Wrote.
Ireland-bred Wrote won the $1 million Juvenile Turf by 2¼ lengths. The 12-1 shot paid $25.20 to win for trainer O’Brien.
Smith guided Amazombie to a neck victory in the $1.5 million Sprint at 7-1 odds. The 5-year-old gelding paid $17.80 to win.
Regally Royal won the $1 million Turf Sprint by 1½ lengths as the 2-1 favorite.