In­jury mars Breeders’ Cup Clas­sic

Mon­go­lian Groom’s health over­shad­ows race out­come

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Beth Har­ris

ARCADIA, Calif. — Vino Rosso won the $6 mil­lion Breeders’ Cup Clas­sic by 4 1⁄4 lengths, draw­ing away from 5-2 fa­vorite McKinzie down the stretch of a race marred by a “se­ri­ous” in­jury to a 15-1 long shot Satur­day night.

Mon­go­lian Groom was part of the early pace in the 1 1⁄4-mile race that capped the two-day world cham­pi­onships at Santa Anita. How­ever, jockey Abel Cedillo sharply pulled up the 4-year-old geld­ing near the eighth pole as the rest of the field charged to­ward the fin­ish line.

“We know he’s in­jured his left hind leg,” said Dr. Al Rug­gles, the on-call vet­eri­nar­ian.

Dr. Scott Palmer, an­other on-call vet, de­scribed the in­jury as “se­ri­ous.”

Santa Anita has been the site of 36 horse deaths since De­cem­ber. Track owner The Stronach Group rushed to im­ple­ment changes to rules in­volv­ing med­i­ca­tion and train­ing. The Breeders’ Cup also beefed up its own pre-race ex­ams and ob­ser­va­tions of Cup run­ners. It was the only in­jury in 14 Cup races. Bred in Ken­tucky by Calumet Farm, Mon­go­lian Groom is trained by Gan­bat Enebish and owned by Mon­go­lian Sta­ble. Win­ning co-owner Mike Re­pole called Mon­go­lian Groom’s in­jury “the worst part of this game.”

“For us, horse safety is very, very im­por­tant,” Re­pole said. “Prayers for the horse, prayers for the con­nec­tions of the horse. It’s got to be re­ally, re­ally tough. It’s very sad.”

Win­ning trainer Todd Pletcher said he was con­cerned about horse safety at Santa Anita com­ing into the sea­so­nend­ing world cham­pi­onships.

“We were ... hop­ing ev­ery­thing would go smoothly and safely,” he said. “Every­one took ev­ery pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure they pos­si­bly could.”

Four horses were scratched Satur­day from Cup races af­ter pre-race ex­ams by vets found is­sues con­cern­ing enough to keep them in their barns.

Ear­lier in the day, pro­test­ers an­gered by the 36 deaths stood out­side Santa Anita tot­ing signs urg­ing the end of the sport in Cal­i­for­nia.

Vino Rosso went off at 9-2 odds for Pletcher, who won his first Clas­sic.

“It’s one thing that was miss­ing,” Pletcher said. “It feels great.”

Jockey Irad Or­tiz Jr. earned a lead­ing fourth Cup vic­tory of the week­end that fea­tured just three vic­to­ries by fa­vorites.

McKinzie, the 5-2 fa­vorite, fin­ished sec­ond for trainer Bob Baf­fert. Higher Power was third and Elate, a 5-year-old mare tak­ing on the boys, fin­ished fourth.

Vino Rosso cov­ered the dis­tance in 2 min­utes, 2.8 sec­onds and paid $11.20, $5.80 and $4.

Satur­day’s big­gest up­set be­longed to 14-1 shot Belvoir Bay in the $1 mil­lion Turf Sprint. The 6-year-old mare beat the boys for a 1 1⁄4-length vic­tory. She paid $31.60 to win.

Trainer Chad Brown won a lead­ing three Cup races over the two days to move into a sec­ond-place tie for ca­reer vic­to­ries with Baf­fert at 15.

■ Bricks and Mor­tar won the $4 mil­lion Turf by a head to com­plete a per­fect sea­son and move solidly into con­tention for Horse of the Year hon­ors. He’s 6-for-6 this sea­son and has won seven in a row dat­ing to last year.

■ Covfefe won the $1 mil­lion Filly & Mare Sprint by three-quar­ters of a length as the 3-2 fa­vorite.

■ Spun to Run won the $1 mil­lion Dirt Mile by 2 3⁄4 lengths at 9-1 odds, up­set­ting even-money fa­vorite Omaha Beach.

■ 9-5 shot Mitole won the $2 mil­lion Sprint by 1 1⁄4 lengths for his sixth win in seven starts this year.

■ Uni won the $2 mil­lion Mile on the turf by 1 1⁄4 lengths over 3-1 fa­vorite Get Stormy.

■ Blue Prize ral­lied from sec­ond-to-last on the back­stretch to win the $2 mil­lion Distaff by 1 1⁄2 lengths, up­set­ting even­money fa­vorite Mid­night Bisou, who lost for the first time in eight races this year.

MARK J. TER­RILL/AP

Irad Or­tiz Jr. lets out a yell af­ter rid­ing Bricks and Mor­tar to a win Satur­day at the Breeders' Cup Turf race.

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