DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) – The opposition knew Knicks Go would charge right at the start gate. Yet none of his rivals pursued him.
He had it all in his own way as establishing an undisputed lead and winning the $ 6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by 2 3/4 lengths on Saturday at Del Mar.
Knicks Go completed 1 1/4 miles in 1: 59.57. He won his fourth consecutive victory and thus consolidated his candidacy to win the Eclipse award as horse of the year.
“Speed ââis very dangerous,” said winning coach Brad Cox. “I kind of feel like if they tried to go with him, they might jeopardize their own opportunity to win the race.”
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Knicks Go, 5, faced a trio of the best 3-year-olds – the controversial Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, the Belmont Stakes Essential Quality winner and local hero Hot Rod Charlie, whose property has links with San Diego.
“He broke really hard,” said Rosario, who won his 15th Cup race. âHe seemed to really enjoy what he was doing. I could see his ears, he was so relaxed.
Sent off 3-1 by the crowd of 26,553, Knicks Go paid $ 8.40 to win. He won the Dirt Mile at last year’s event and became the sixth horse to win two different Cup races. He has South Korean ownership.
âThis one was very, very high on our shopping list that we wanted to win and we topped it off,â said Cox, who won his first classic.
Cox also saddled the favorite Essential Quality 9-5, who finished another length in third.
Medina Spirit couldn’t muster the late kick needed to threaten Knicks Go and finished second for beleaguered coach Bob Baffert. The colt has failed a post-race drug test after the Derby and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission have yet to make a final decision based on its investigation.
âI am very proud of him. He had a great race, âsaid Baffert. âFor me, it’s the best of 3 years. He showed it today. This is racing, proving it on the track. And he’s proven it today that he’s the real deal.
Baffert was allowed to enter horses for the end-of-season world championships, but the event’s main trainer had to meet certain conditions, including more stringent out-of-competition testing of his horses and greater security in his barn. He accepted the additional examination and was required to pay for it out of his own pocket. He won the $ 2million Juvenile with Corniche on Friday.
Hot Rod Charlie, second behind Essential Quality in the Belmont, was fourth. Fans chanted “Let’s go Chuck!” before the race.
The results of the Classic brought some relief to Cox, who did not win with any of his other horses during the weekend.
Stilleto Boy finished fifth, followed by Art Collector, Tripoli and Max Player. The field was reduced to eight when the Express Train was scratched.
In other races:
– Japan recorded a 0 for 13 slip in the Breeders’ Cup, with a stunning 45-1 surprise in the $ 2 million Distaff and a win in the $ 2 million Filly and Mare Turf.
Marche Lorraine edged out Dunbar Road by a nose after a photo of arrival in the distaff. The 5 year old mare ran 1 1/8 miles in 1: 47.67 and paid $ 101.80 to win under Irish jockey OisÃn Murphy.
Yoshito Yahagi coached the two Japanese champions. Loves Only You won the Filly & Mare Turf by a half length under Yuga Kawada. She paid $ 10.60 to win.
âI would like to say thank you to my horse. She did a great job, âYahagi said through a translator. “This is a dream come true for the Japanese horse racing industry.”
– British breeding Yibir took the $ 4million Turf by a half length, giving trainer Charlie Appleby, jockey William Buick and owner Godolphin Stables their third victory of the weekend. Godolphin is the racing outfit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. Yibir ran 1 1/2 miles in 2: 25.90 and paid $ 19 to win. The 3-year-old gelding beat a horse as he turned towards the house before charging outside and staggering Broome, who finished second.
The trio previously teamed up to win the $ 2 million Mile with 2-1 frontrunner Space Blues and the $ 1 million Juvenile Turf on Friday with Modern Games.
– In the Mile, Irish-bred Space Blues won by half a length. He paid $ 6.20 to win as a 2-1 favorite. Appleby’s other horse, Master of the Seas, was scratched at the starting grid after acting at the No.1 post. Neither horse nor jockey James Doyle was injured. It was similar to what happened on Friday, when Modern Games was mistakenly scratched by vets before being reinstated to race in the Juvenile Turf for purse money only. The Modern Games have won.
–Aloha West scored an upset nose in the $ 2 million Sprint. The 4-year-old colt, who started his racing career this year, finished sixth at the top of the stretch and edged Dr Schivel over under Jose Ortiz. Coached by Wayne Catalano, Aloha West ran six stages in 1: 08.49 and paid $ 24.60 to win.
– This Ce won the $ 1 Million Filly & Mare Sprint by 2 1/2 lengths in an upset. The 6-1 shot paid $ 14.40 to win. Victor Espinoza, 49, rode the winner.
– Life Is Good took a 5-3 / 4 victory in the $ 1million Dirt Mile, giving jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. his third Cup victory of the weekend. The 3-year-old colt paid $ 3.40 to win as a 3-5 favorite. Coach Todd Pletcher claimed his 12th Cup victory.
– Golden Pal soared in the million dollar Turf Sprint and won by 1 1/4 lengths under Irad Ortiz Jr. Ortiz and coach Wesley Ward combined to win the Juvenile Turf on Friday with Twilight Gleaming .
– Jockey ET Baird was fined $ 5,000 by Del Mar stewards for breaking California whip rules during the Juvenile Turf Sprint on Friday. He has been cited for using the whip more than six times during a race. His mount, One Timer, finished ninth.
AP freelance writer Mike Farrell contributed to this report.
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