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The 'ex' factor leads to a Classic upset

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — "Battle of the Sexes" was sooooo last year.

"Battle of the Exes" is how this year's Breeders' Cup Classic played out when Mike Smith, dressed in white to ride Drosselmeyer under the lights, appeared out of nowhere and beat his front-running ex to the wire aboard Game On Dude.

"I saw white, and I said, 'You've got to be kidding me. Mike Smith. Ugh,' " jockey Chantal Sutherland said.

Drosselmeyer, a 14-1 long shot, won the $5 million Classic by 1½ lengths Saturday at Churchill Downs, capping a weekend of upsets in the season-ending championships.

A year ago, Smith walked off the track in tears after losing the same race by a head aboard superstar Zenyatta, the horse's only loss in her 20-race career.

"Last year I sat here just devastated, thought my life was over," he said. "Just to come back and have a day like I did (Saturday) and to win the race that I got beat in last year, it's just amazing."

Smith and Sutherland, together on and off for six years and once engaged, broke up in 2010 but remain civil, even taking part in a "Battle of the Exes" match race at Del Mar in August to promote the sport.

Then, and now, Smith was the winner.

Smith was asked how it felt to beat Sutherland, and before he could reply, winning trainer Bill Mott injected, "Hey, it felt really, really good."

Smith said: "I turned the page a long time ago. I wish everyone else would."

Still, Smith congratulated Sutherland as they came off the track. The exacta of exes paid $444.80.

"She should hold her head up," Smith said. "She did a great job and ran second in the Classic first time ever riding in it. I think it's incredible. I think she's pretty proud. She should be happy."

Drosselmeyer ran 1¼ miles in 2 minutes, 4.27 seconds and paid $31.60 to win. Ruler On Ice, this year's Belmont Stakes winner, was third.

"(Drosselmeyer) was mowing them down the last eighth of a mile," Mott said. "I guess his biggest attribute is his stamina, and he showed it (Saturday)."

Filly Havre de Grace, the 4-1 second choice, finished fourth against the boys. Flat Out, the 7-2 favorite, was fifth for 70-year-old trainer Scooter Dickey.

So You Think, the 5-1 co-third choice with Uncle Mo, was sixth. To Honor and Serve, with 2005-06 Tampa Bay Downs riding champion Jose Lezcano on board, was seventh, followed by Ice Box, Rattlesnake Bridge, Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty and Headache.

Mott swept the weekend's top two races, winning the $2 million Ladies' Classic with Royal Delta and Lezcano on Friday. Smith tied Jerry Bailey with his 15th Breeders' Cup victory after winning the Sprint earlier Saturday.

Sutherland appeared on her way to becoming the first female jockey to win North America's richest race.

"I'm very happy for Mike because he taught me so much," she said. "That's his 15th Breeders' Cup, so he's a pretty good rider."

Bob Baffert, who trains Game On Dude, said, "I can't believe she got beat by Mike Smith."

The 'ex' factor leads to a Classic upset 11/05/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 5, 2011 9:54pm]
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