ARCADIA, Calif. — Bob Baffert got beat again in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic. Bill Mott settled for half of a repeat sweep in the weekend's two biggest races.
The Hall of Fame trainers could only wince as 9-1 long shot Fort Larned won North America's richest race on Saturday night, capping a weekend of upsets in the world championships at Santa Anita.
Fort Larned ran the race of his life, leading all the way to win by a half-length over Mucho Macho Man.
The highly anticipated Classic was strictly a two-horse race to the finish.
Game On Dude, the 7-5 favorite, ran what Baffert said was "probably the worst race of his life" in finishing seventh. He lost in the closing strides a year ago at Churchill Downs.
Mott's trio of Flat Out (third), Ron the Greek (fourth) and To Honor and Serve (10th) came up short.
Mott, unlike Baffert, didn't leave empty-handed. Royal Delta successfully defended her title in the $2 million Ladies' Classic on Friday, as one of only four favorites to win in 15 races over two days.
The spotlight belonged to an unheralded horse named for an old post in Kansas that protected the Santa Fe Trail, a jockey who rides in racing's minor leagues, and a low-profile trainer.
"The prestige of winning this race in front of the world is unbelievable," jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. said.
He celebrated his 27th birthday with the biggest victory of his career. Trainer Ian Wilkes could say the same.
"Fort Larned just gave us the greatest birthday present ever," said Hernandez, who was the leading rider this year at Ellis Park and Kentucky Downs.
Fort Larned ran 1¼ miles in 2:00.11 in the showcase race of the two-day world championships at Santa Anita that was shown in prime time for the first time. The 4-year-old colt paid $20.80 to win. Wilkes had never won such a big race.
Baffert went 0 for 9 on the weekend, with Game On Dude failing to deliver the Hall of Famer a first-ever win in the Classic. It was the end of a bummer year for him after surviving a heart attack in March and finishing second in each of the Triple Crown races.
Mucho Macho Man was second and Flat Out was third.
Mott was trying to duplicate his feat from last year when he won the Ladies' Classic and the Classic with Drosselmeyer.
Upsets dominated six of the day's nine races, with Little Mike pulling off the biggest stunner at 17-1 odds in the $3 million Turf.
Rosie Napravnik joined Julie Krone as the only female jockeys to win a Breeders' Cup race when she guided 6-5 favorite Shanghai Bobby to a head victory over He's Had Enough in the $2 million Juvenile.
"As long as you've got the horse underneath you, you can get the job done," said Napravnik, who started her career riding under her initials A.R. so no one would realize she was a woman.
Shanghai Bobby dug in along the rail after it looked as if he was beaten in the stretch, setting himself up as the winter book favorite for the Kentucky Derby. The colt improved to 5-0 under trainer Todd Pletcher, who went 1 for 10 on the weekend.
"He's got everything you want. He's fast and courageous," Pletcher said. "He's handled everything we've thrown at him, from 4½ furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. He just keeps coming."
Wise Dan, the 9-5 favorite in the $2 million Mile, came through with a 1½-length victory, covering the distance in a track-record 1:31.78. He paid $5.60 to win for trainer Charles Lopresti and jockey John Velazquez, who earned his 12th BC victory.
Animal Kingdom, last year's Kentucky Derby winner who had been off for 259 days after his second and most recent injury, finished second.
The string of upsets continued Saturday, with Little Mike winning the Turf by a half-length under jockey Ramon Dominguez. He paid $36.60, the highest win price for this year's event.
Little Mike, trained by Churchill Downs-based Dale Romans, ran 1½ miles in 2:22.83. Point of Entry was second and Ireland-based St Nicholas Abbey, last year's champion, finished third.
The win price on Little Mike topped Calidoscopio's payout of $36.40 in the $500,000 Marathon on Friday.
Tapizar beat a talented field that included 5-2 favorite Emcee, Shackleford and Fed Biz. He won by 2¼ lengths and paid $32.60 for trainer Steve Asmussen. Rail Trip was second and Delegation third.
"This never gets old," said jockey Corey Nakatani, who earned his 10th BC win. "Winning a race on Breeders' Cup day is special."
Trinniberg won the $1.5 million Sprint by three-quarters of a length at 13-1 odds, triggering a win price of $29.40. Jockey Willie Martinez and trainer Shivananda Parbhoo earned their first BC victories. Defending champion Amazombie, the 7-2 favorite, was eighth.
Baffert, a three-time Sprint winner, got shut out with his entries of Fast Bullet (sixth), Coil (seventh), Capital Account (12th).
In the $1 million Juvenile Turf, 9-1 shot George Vancouver found a narrow opening in the lane and bolted through to win by 1¼ lengths. He paid $20.60. Trainer Aidan O'Brien, jockey Ryan Moore and owner Coolmore Stud teamed to win for the second straight year.
Filly Mizdirection beat the boys by a half-length in the $1 million Turf Sprint off a six-month layoff, giving sports talk radio host and co-owner Jim Rome his first Breeders' Cup victory after several years of owning thoroughbreds.
"I'm numb," he said. "Having a hard time believing that that happened."
Sent off at 6-1 odds, Mizdirection paid $15.80, $7.40 and $5. She dropped back to 11th before rallying over 6½ furlongs in a mad scramble on the downhill turf course and was timed in 1:11.39. Hall of Famer Mike Smith won his 17th Breeders' Cup race and second of the weekend, extending his record for wins among jockeys.
"She ran like a true champion to lose that much ground and still beat a field as talented as this," said trainer Mike Puype, who notched his first BC win. He gave Mizdirection a long rest to freshen her up.
Unbridled's Song, the 9-2 Turf Sprint favorite, returned $5.80 and $4.40. Reneesgotzip paid $7 to show.
Groupie Doll came through as the 3-5 favorite in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint, winning by 4½ lengths. She ran 7 furlongs in 1:20.72 and paid $3.40 to win. Jockey Rajiv Maragh won his second BC of the weekend, having taken the $500,000 Juvenile Sprint on 15-1 shot Hightail on Friday.
In the Juvenile, Shanghai Bobby ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.58 and paid $4.60, $3.40 and $2.60. He's Had Enough returned $12.60 and $7.40 for trainer Doug O'Neill, jockey Mario Gutierrez and owner J. Paul Reddam, the same connections behind Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another.
"He ran very good, but we did get shut off twice on each turn," Gutierrez said.
Capo Bastone paid $5 to show.
Baffert's duo of Power Broker and Title Contender finished fifth and eighth, respectively.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.