Drosselmeyer just dandy in Breeders’ Cup Classic
BY LEW FREEDMAN Special to the Sun-Times November 5, 2011 11:58PM
Mike Smith rides Drosselmeyer to victory during the Classic race at the Breeders' Cup horse races at Churchill Downs Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Updated: December 7, 2011 8:31AM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Just hours after he warned Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey “I was coming after him,” jockey Mike Smith on Saturday won his record-tying 15th Breeders’ Cup race in an astonishing come-from-behind charge — beating his ex-girlfriend in the process.
Steering 14-1 Drosselmeyer from well back, Smith closed down the stretch on a fast and firm Churchill Downs track to give trainer Bill Mott the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic a day after Mott’s Royal Delta won the Ladies Classic.
“Just amazing,” said star-of-the-day Smith, who said he was devastated last year losing by an eyelash aboard Zenyatta. “I felt very confident. He was in a great rhythm.”
Favorites — including Uncle Mo, scratched from the Kentucky Derby because of illness — couldn’t catch Drosselmeyer, the 2010 Belmont Stakes winner, and finished out of the money.
Game On Dude, ridden by Chantal Sutherland, was in command in the 1¼-mile event after the final turn. Sutherland, also a model and actress, was poised to become the only female jockey besides Julie Krone to win a Cup race.
But Smith, who earlier won his 14th Cup race aboard Amazombie in a $1.5 million six-furlongs race, blasted past on the outside to win by 1½ lengths.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Sutherland said when she realized it was him streaking past. “Arrgh.”
Her relationship with Smith was chronicled on a reality TV show, “Jockeys.”
Mott felt better than that.
“It’s an incredible thrill,” said Mott, who has won eight Cup races. “He was mowing them down the last 1/8th of a mile.”
The Classic capped the 15-race, $26 million weekend before 65,143 fans.
The 8-1 Amazombie was acquired by co-owner Thomas Sanford by accident as part of a two-for-the-price-of-one sale for $5,000. Sanford didn’t know he got this yearling until two showed up on his doorstep.
“I was really sitting loaded,” Smith said. “I had a lot of horse.”
Joseph O’Brien, 18, of Ireland, became the youngest jockey in the Breeders’ Cup’s 28 years to win a race by guiding 4-year-old St Nicholas Abbey to a 2¼-length victory in the $3 million Emirates Airline Turf race over 1½ miles.
“Very special,” said father-trainer Aidan O’Brien. “Unbelievable.”
Mother Anne-Marie O’Brien said, “My heart is going 100 mph. I could hardly stand up.”
St Nicholas Abbey outran a tightly bunched field down the stretch.
“I had to be patient,” said Joseph O’Brien, who has attended Cup races since he was a small child. “[The horse] picked up where it matters.”
Six-year-old mare Goldikova, the only three-time Cup winner, chased a fourth title in the TVG Turf Mile but was third behind a photo-finish Court Vision victory over Turallure. Court Vision paid $131.60 on a $2 bet.
“We had a very good run,” Goldikova trainer Freddy Head said about his France-campaigned horse’s last run before retirement with 14 Grade I stakes victories. “She looked like she was going to win for a moment. Maybe the mileage and the years have taken their toll.”
Hansen claimed the 11/16-mile $2 million Grey Goose Juvenile for 2-year-olds — considered foreshadowing of the following year’s Kentucky Derby — by edging closing Union Rags by a neck in a wire-to-wire run. Owner Dr. Kendall Hansen kissed the ground in the winner’s circle.