ARCADIA, Calif. – Mucho Macho Man, ridden by Gary Stevens, won the $4.6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by a nose Saturday — making Kathy Ritvo the first female trainer to win North America’s richest race.
Hall of Famer Stevens, a 50-year-old who was the leading rider at Longacres in Renton in 1983 and 1984, has 10 Breeders’ Cup victories, but this was his first in the Classic.
“This is a dream come true,” he said. “This is the one race missing from my résumé.”
Ritvo, a 44-year-old mother of two, had a heart transplant in 2008 after a six-month wait.
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Mucho Macho Man edged Will Take Charge, trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Luis Saez, before a crowd of 58,795 at Santa Anita.
“I was just hoping he got it,” Ritvo said. “When I saw Gary shake his stick, I was confident. He ran a great race.”
The day’s nine Grade I BC races began tragically, with the death of Secret Compass in the $1.84 million Juvenile Fillies.
Bob Baffert, trainer of Secret Compass, saddled two winners later on the card — New Year’s Day in the Juvenile and Secret Circle, whose owners include former Mount Vernon resident Mike Pegram, in the Sprint.
Baffert-trained Game On Dude was the 17-10 favorite in the Classic and led after a quarter-mile, but faded to ninth in a field of 11.
Mucho Macho Man led Fort Larned — last year’s Classic winner, who was fourth this time — by a half-length after a mile and finished the 1¼-mile race in 2 minutes, 0.72 seconds.
“They give me a free roll around the far turn,” said Stevens, who came back from a seven-year retirement in January. “I think that might have been the winning move.”
Mucho Macho Man, a 5-year-old, paid $10 to win as the second choice in the wagering.
“I didn’t know the photo was as close as it was,” Stevens said.
Ritvo is the fifth female trainer to win a Breeders’ Cup race. Last year, Mucho Macho Man was second in the Classic.
Ritvo takes 30-plus pills a day. She fought hard to live not to win horse races, but for her two young children.
Stevens grabbed Ritvo by the hand after the Classic.
“You just made an old man happy,” he told her.
Ritvo squeezed him back.
“Honestly, I’m very, very blessed to be here,” she said.
In the Juvenile Fillies, Stevens’ mount — 5-1 shot She’s a Tiger — was disqualified and placed second for causing interference deep in the stretch. Redmond resident Mark Dedomenico is among She’s a Tiger’s owners.
Ria Antonia, a 32-1 shot, finished a nose behind She’s a Tiger and was elevated from second to first.
“The stewards made their call and I wouldn’t disagree with that,” Stevens said.
Secret Compass fell, dumped and injured her jockey, John Velazquez, and suffered a lateral condylar fracture with dislocation.
Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, an on-call veterinarian from the American Association of Equine Practitioners, said there was no chance to save the filly because of a lack of blood supply to the injured area.
“It is the worst type of injury we get, unfortunately,” McIlwraith said.
Baffert said, “This game can be brutal. The highs and lows are just so strong. I’ve had some great moments and some sad moments.
“We get up every day and win, lose or draw, we love these animals, no matter where they run. It’s very emotional to lose one of them.”
Velazquez had emergency surgery to remove his spleen after internal bleeding was discovered shortly before he was to be released from a Pasadena hospital.
Velazquez had mounts in the eight Breeders’ Cup races after the Juvenile Fillies, including Wise Dan — the 2012 North American Horse of the Year — in the $1.84 million Mile on turf.
Jose Lezcano replaced Velazquez on Wise Dan, who won the Mile for the second consecutive year.
• Wise Dan, a 6-year-old gelding, was among three horses who repeated victories from last year at Santa Anita. The others were 5-year-old Groupie Doll in the Filly & Mare Sprint and 5-year-old mare Mizdirection, who beat males in the Turf Sprint.
• European-based runners ridden by Ryan Moore accounted for two victories, as 4-year-old Dank won the Filly & Mare Turf and 3-year-old colt Magician took the Turf.
|Breeders’ Cup recap|
|Winners of Saturday’s nine Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.|
|Juvenile Fillies||Ria Antonia||Englehart||Castellano||$66.60|
|Filly & Mare Turf||Dank||Stoute||Moore||$5.00|
|Filly & Mare Sprint||Groupie Doll||Bradley||Maragh||$8.00|
|Juvenile||New Year’s Day||Baffert||Garcia||$23.00|
|Classic||Mucho Macho Man||Ritvo||Stevens||$10.00|