Injury mars Breeders’ Cup Classic
Mongolian Groom’s health overshadows race outcome
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.
Irad Ortiz Jr. lets out a yell after riding Bricks and Mortar to a win Saturday at the Breeders' Cup Turf race.