The first part of the $1 million Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile unfolded mostly as expected Nov. 4 at Santa Anita Park. The 2015 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Runhappy went speeding along on the lead, with 3-5 choice Dortmund and multiple graded stakes winner Gun Runner in close pursuit.
The finish? That's another story.
Shadwell Stable's Tamarkuz, under all-time leading Breeders' Cup jockey Mike Smith, ranged up wide outside as Runhappy and then Dortmund faded, and rolled past Gun Runner, who had taken the lead coming off the turn. The 6-year-old Speighstown runner cleared by 3 1/2 lengths at 11-1 odds, giving trainer Kiaran McLaughlin his first ever Santa Anita win, his first Breeders' Cup win since Lahudood took the 2007 Filly & Mare Turf, and his third overall Breeders' Cup win, added to the Classic score of Invasor in 2006. All three were Shadwell runners.
After opening fractions of :22.45, :45.37, and 1:10, final time for the mile was 1:35.72.
"It set up. There was a lot of pace. Tamarkuz has speed himself and right away they opened 2, 3, 4 (lengths), so I knew they were going fast," said Smith, who picked up his 23rd Breeders' Cup win. "After that it was just a matter of getting him into a comfortable rhythm and a happy place. When I called on him, he finished like he's been finishing for me. I really thought he had a good shot today."
"When they put him on the dirt in Dubai is when we really figured out what he was about, and that's why Sheikh Hamdan sent him back to us," said Shadwell racing manager Joe DeSantis. "We felt he was sitting on a big race and the two turns were what we were really excited about, that's what we were looking for."
"Now all the media knows why Frosted's running the Classic; we had one good enough to win the (Dirt) Mile already," McLaughlin added with a laugh. "Last year it was a real honor to get him in America because he won the Godolphin Mile, and now we've added to that."
The winner returned $25.80, $9.40, and $8, while Gun Runner brought $5.20 and $4.60. Accelerate, who made up ground inside, finished third ($16) by a neck over Dortmund. Tom's Ready, Point Piper, Vyjack, Runhappy, and Texas Chrome completed the order of finish.
Tamarkuz came in off back-to-back seconds, in the Oct. 8 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park and the Aug. 27 Priority One Jets Forego at Saratoga Race Course. He was a $325,000 Keeneland September yearling sale buy. With the Dirt Mile victory, Tamarkuz improved his record to eight wins and four seconds from 20 starts, for earnings of $1,840,444. – Claire Novak
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1): About 30 miles from Hollywood, Oscar Performance delivered an award-winning effort to secure a 1 1/4-length victory in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Nov. 4 at Santa Anita Park.
After tracking speedy Wellabled through a half-mile in :45.88 under jockey Jose Ortiz, Amerman Racing Stables' homebred Oscar Performance moved to the lead in the far turn and was not seriously challenged in the stretch to win the first of four Grade 1 Breeders' Cup stakes on Friday's card for trainer Brian Lynch.
"I had a perfect trip. He broke very alertly. I put myself where I wanted to be, right behind the speed," said Ortiz, who also secured his first Breeders' Cup score. "Approaching the half-mile pole I felt I had a lot horse underneath me, so I just kind of waited until I crossed the quarter pole to unleash him."
Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier's Lancaster Bomber finished second, followed by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, and SF Racing's Good Samaritan, who had trouble in the first turn where he was swept very wide.
Oscar Performance made his first three career starts in New York, winning a maiden race by 10 1/4 lengths Aug. 20 on the Saratoga Race Course turf before scoring a front-running, six-length win in the Pilgrim Stakes on the Belmont Park inner turf. – Frank Angst
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (Grade 1): An already career year for trainer Chad Brown continued Nov. 4 when New Money Honey collared pacesetter Lull in midstretch, then held off a late run from Coasted to take the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf by a half-length.
With Javier Castellano aboard, New Money Honey got an ideal setup as Lull established an open-length lead in the backstretch. Lull clicked off quick early fractions of :22.35 and :45.75 for the one-mile test.
As Lull began to weaken from her front-end exploits, New Money Honey surged to take command and give Brown his eighth Breeders' Cup win.
"We talked about it, if she could break clean and be up in the forward group and somehow get clear at some point in a big field, which is a lot to ask, she'd have a good shot because she's training so well," Brown said. "I've had so much success with Javier, and we have great chemistry together. He studies the races very well. And if he's ridden a horse before, he learns a lot from it and applies it to the next race."
Coasted edged Cavale Doree for second money and 4-1 race favorite La Coronel finished sixth. – Alicia Wincze Hughes