Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

Day of triumph, tragedy

ARCADIA, Calif. — Mucho Macho Man won the $5 million Classic by a nose Saturday, making Kathy Ritvo the first female trainer to win North America's richest race at a Breeders' Cup that began with the death of a horse in the day's first race.

Gary Stevens capped his comeback at age 50 in stellar fashion, surviving a photo finish in the Classic after winning the $2 million Distaff with Beholder on Friday for a sweep of the biggest races at the two-day world championships at Santa Anita Park.

Last year, Mucho Macho Man finished second by a half-length to winner Fort Larned.

Game On Dude, the 8-5 favorite, finished ninth for trainer Bob Baffert and co-owner Joe Torre, the retired Yankees and Dodgers manager.

The second of two days of Cup racing got off to a troublesome start with a rare disqualification in the opener, the $2 million Juvenile Fillies, and Secret Compass euthanized after the race because of a broken leg.

The DQ was announced after a green screen went up in a spot approaching the final turn to shield injured Secret Compass from the crowd. "When you lose a horse like that, it just took all the wind out of our sails," Baffert said. "I've never had something like that happen on a big day. We're all still in shock."

While running third, Secret Compass' front legs collapsed, slamming jockey John Velazquez hard into the dirt. Velazquez, 41, was taken to a hospital. The 2-year-old filly was euthanized after sustaining a lateral condylar fracture, on-call veterinarian Dr. Wayne McIlwraith said.

"It is the worst type of injury we get, unfortunately," McIlwraith said.

Velazquez had surgery to remove his spleen after internal bleeding was discovered shortly before he was to be released from the hospital. He was to ride in all nine Breeders' Cup races, but he was replaced by other jockeys for the rest of Saturday's races.

Ria Antonia finished second in the Juvenile Fillies but was declared the winner of the 1�-mile race after She's a Tiger was disqualified by the stewards. They ruled She's a Tiger and Stevens drifted out late and bumped Ria Antonia and Javier Castellano, slowing the latter's momentum.

Stevens said he "wouldn't disagree" the call.

It was the first DQ of a winner since the inaugural 1984 Juvenile Fillies, in which Fran's Valentine won and later was placed 10th.

Tampa Bay Downs trainer Kathleen O'Connell of Odessa came up short in her attempt to become the first female conditioner to win the Juvenile Fillies when Scandalous Act finished sixth.

Baffert's 10-1 shot New Year's Day rallied on the rail to win the $2 million Juvenile by 11/4 lengths. The Juvenile's winner is typically tagged as the early Kentucky Derby favorite.

Times correspondent Don Jensen contributed to this report.

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