ARCADIA (AP) — Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott is halfway to repeating his Breeders’ Cup daily double.
Mott pulled off a rare parlay last year, winning the $2 million Ladies’ Classic with Royal Delta and the $5 million Classic with Drosselmeyer.
Mott snared the first leg on Friday, the opening day of the 15-race season ending championships at Santa Anita, as Royal Delta defended her title with a convincing victory in the Ladies’ Classic.
And Mott has three shots Saturday in the Classic: Flat Out, 5-1, Ron the Greek, 6-1 and To Honor and Serve, 8-1.
“We have more work to do and we’ve got three good chances in there,” Mott said. “We’re certainly not counting out chickens before they hatch. They’re doing very well and I think any one of the three has a chance.”
The horse to beat in the Classic is Game on Dude, the 9-5 favorite, the runner-up in the Classic last year. Game on Dude, trained by Bob Baffert, is a perfect 5 for 5 at Santa Anita.
Don’t discount momentum, and Mott certainly has it on his side.
“I know it’s a deep race and there are good horses in there, horses that have proven themselves over this racetrack,” Mott said. “We can’t stop now. You’ve got to push forward and look to tomorrow.”
Among the nine races Saturday, Shanghai Bobby puts a perfect 4 for 4 mark on the line in the $2 million Juvenile and Point of Entry looks to extend his winning streak to six against some of world’s top grass horses in the $3 million Turf.
Royal Delta led all the way in winning the Ladies’ Classic by 1½ lengths, making the defending champion the only favorite to win on an upset-filled opening day of the Breeders’ Cup.
Jockey Mike Smith earned his 16th victory in the event’s 29-year history, breaking a tie for most wins with fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey.
“I hope to be around a few more years to add to it,” the 47-year-old rider said.
Royal Delta was the 8-5 favorite in the field of eight fillies and mares, considered one of the deepest fields among the 15 races during the world championships. She ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.80 and paid $5.40 to win.
After Royal Delta’s win last year at Churchill Downs, she was sold for $8.5 million to Benjamin Leon. Mott didn’t think he would be training the filly anymore and felt sad the day he had to walk her out of his barn.
“It was like walking to my best friend’s funeral,” he said earlier this week.
Mott attended the Keeneland sale and congratulated Leon after his purchase, not realizing that a couple weeks later Royal Delta would be back in his care.
“It’s such a matter of pride to have a horse of that quality,” Mott said. “I thought she could do it again if things went well and they did.”
With two Ladies’ Classic titles to her credit, Mott and Leon were already looking ahead to next year with Royal Delta. They plan to run her in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, where she finished ninth in March, and then have her close out her career at the Breeders’ Cup.
Six different jockeys, trainers and owners won each of the Breeders’ Cup races in front of 34,619 fans on a sunny day.
The biggest upset was Calidoscopio’s 4¼-length victory in the $500,000 Marathon, jockey Aaron Gryder’s first Breeders’ Cup win. The 17-1 shot from Argentina paid $36.40 to win and at 9 became the oldest Breeders’ Cup champion.
Age also played a part in the second-biggest upset. Sent off at 15-1 odds, Hightail kicked off the two-day world championships with a nose victory in the $500,000 Juvenile Sprint, giving Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas his leading 19th Breeders’ Cup victory at 77.
“At my age it’s significant,” Lukas said. “I still have the passion for it and I train every day and ride every day. I’m not going to retire. I’m going to ride out there one morning, fall off the pony. They will harrow me under and if the harrow goes over me a couple of times that will be the end of it.”
In the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf, 11-1 shot Flotilla rallied to win by 1¼ lengths and paid $24.80. Trainer Mikel Delzangles and jockey Christophe Lemaire, both from France, won their first Breeders’ Cup race.
Zagora won the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf by three-quarters of a length at 9-1 odds. She paid $20.40 to win under Javier Castellano for owner Martin Schwartz, who made his fortune trading on Wall Street.
Beholder led all the way to win the $2 million Juvenile Fillies, holding off 3-2 favorite Executiveprivilege by one length.
It was the 13th Breeders’ Cup victory for jockey Garrett Gomez and the seventh for Mandella, who last won at the world championships in 2003 when he had four victories.
Beholder paid $9.80 to win, while trainer Bob Baffert’s Executiveprivilege had her five-race winning streak ended after she drifted out in the stretch.
» Mike Smith Breaks Breeders Cup Record As He Helps Royal Delta Win Ladies Classic
» 9-Year-Old Calidoscopio Becomes Oldest Horse To Win Breeders Cup Race
» Breeders’ Cup Returns To Arcadia This Weekend
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