ARCADIA, Calif. — Jockeys, agents and trainers were left scrambling Saturday to fill the mounts of jockey John Velazquez, who was thrown from Secret Compass and had to have spleen surgery after the day's first Breeders' Cup race, the $2 million Juvenile Fillies.
It was a day of mixed results for the replacement riders on the eight horses slated to have Velazquez in the saddle, with a win for frequent Tampa Bay Downs jockey Jose Lezcano aboard Wise Dan in the Mile and a pair of seconds for others.
The seconds included Havana, the favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher in the $2 million Juvenile, one of two Velazquez mounts taken over by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens.
Luis Saez, the first jockey to take up a Velazquez mount minutes after the accident, rode Judy The Beauty in a fierce rally in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint before winner Groupie Doll found a second wind and won by a half-length.
Lezcano had ridden favorite and horse of the year candidate Wise Dan several times before. It showed with a win in the $2 million Mile. He rallied to beat long shot Za Approval by three-quarters of a length.
"Jose's … always picked him up when Johnny's hurt," Wise Dan's trainer, Charles LoPresti, said. "He didn't panic, and it worked out."
FALSE STARTS FOR STEVENS: Until winning the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, Stevens had a strange day, twice crossing the finish line first but not adding to his Cup victory total.
Stevens won the $100,000 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap, the last race on the undercard before the start of the Breeders' Cup proper, then had his mount disqualified after it finished first in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies.
That meant just one trip to the winners' circle. "I tried not to let it get in my head," Stevens said.
Stevens brought a definitive end to the consolation prizes aboard Mucho Macho Man, his 10th Cup victory and first in the Classic. "It's actually the culmination of a career," Stevens, 50, said.
KEEPING IT REGAL: Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora brought his guitar and replaced the typical trumpet to play the call to post. Sambora said during his first rehearsal, he played a thundering, distortion-laden riff much like Jimi Hendrix did in his epic version of the national anthem in 1969 at Woodstock. But the NBC crew told him that wouldn't work. "They told me it would scare … the horses," he said. He played it again, but "I did it more regally." The TV crew said the horses would be fine.