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Drosselmeyer just dandy in Breeders’ Cup Classic

Mike Smith rides Drosselmeyer victory during Classic race Breeders' Cup horse races Churchill Downs Saturday Nov. 5 2011 Louisville Ky.

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)

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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.



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