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Wise Dan outshines Excelebration in Breeders' Cup Mile

ESPN staff
November 3, 2012 « David Silva out of crunch Ajax clash | Chartbeat test »
Wise Dan was an impressive winner in the Breeders' Cup Mile © PA Photos
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Excelebration was run out of the places as Wise Dan won the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Wise Dan, trained by Charles Lopresti, clocked a course record of one minute, 31.78 seconds to see off 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom by one-and-a-half lengths. Excelebration had to settle for fourth after Obviously snatched third in a photo.

It was a disappointing outcome for Aidan O'Brien's Excelebration, who failed to repeat last month's impressive showing in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

"We felt we had to give it a go, but the edge just wasn't on him today," O'Brien said. "He was very impressive at Ascot, but that was only 13 days ago and it may well have left its mark.

"Joseph [O'Brien, jockey] said that going left-handed first time was also a contributing factor."

Fort Larned sprang a surprise in the Breeders' Cup Classic to deny Mucho Macho Man in a thrilling finish. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr celebrated his birthday in style as he and trainer Ian Wilkes celebrated their first Breeders' Cup triumph.

Wilkes' colt made all the running but looked destined to settle for second as Mucho Macho Man steadily ate into his lead on the home straight. But Fort Larned was in no mood to be beaten and showed real guts to hold off his rival to take the $5 million contest. Flat Out was a distant third while favourite Game On Dude trailed home in seventh.

Little Mike held off the powerful finish of Point of Entry and St Nicholas Abbey to claim victory in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Piloted by Ramon Dominguez, Little Mike had plenty of company as he made his move on the home bend. Trailblazer was the one to initially go with the Dale Romans-trained horse, but that challenge failed to last.

Instead it was Point of Entry and, inevitably, St Nicholas Abbey who began to threaten, with the latter thundering down the middle of the track. However, Joseph O'Brien could not steer his charge home as Little Mike held on.

O'Brien, who eventually settled for third, said: "I was a little wide turning in, but he ran a great race."

Ramon Dominguez rides Little Mike to victory ahead of Point of Entry © Getty Images
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Aidan O'Brien added: "We were delighted with him - it was a solid run. He got into a nice rhythm and I didn't think anything went wrong. He did have a tough race in the Arc on heavy ground and he didn't pick up the way he can do in the straight. I hope he will be around and keep going next year."

The eventual victory margin for Little Mike from Point of Entry was half a length. Treasure Beach, meanwhile, never threatened under Jamie Spence and ended the race 10th.

"This is a perfect little horse - he runs so hard all the time," winning trainer Romans said.

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf was won by George Vancouver, who was expertly guided by Ryan Moore to see off Dundonnell. In the end it was Noble Tune who came second with Balance The Books third.

Moore hugged the inside rail aboard the O'Brien-trained colt, and the race pattern could hardly have unravelled any better as he eased to victory.

Owner Michael Tabor said: "He's been waiting for this fast ground, and that really was the key. Everything's possible next season now. He's obviously a top-class horse and hopefully he'll go for all the big races.''

Godolphin's Artigiano, ridden by Frankie Dettori, was unplaced, and trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni commented: "He missed a beat at the start and the track was a bit tight for him. Frankie said he enjoyed the ground and that he needs further."

Fellow high-profile challengers Lines Of Battle and Fantastic Moon were both run out of contention.

Things did not go so well for O'Brien in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, where Starspangledbanner faded to allow Mizdirection to claim victory. Mizdirection had started the day as a 20/1 shot but came in to 9/2 and justified that price under the guidance of Mike Smith.

It was Starspangledbanner who made the early running, leading by two lengths as they entered the straight. However, that did not last as Unbridled's Note finished half-a-length behind the winner in second with Reneesgotzip third.

O'Brien still found plenty of positives from Starspangledbanner's performance though, saying: "We made the decision to let him roll along and he seemed to quicken up nicely coming into the stretch.

"We were really delighted with his performance, although I think he wants to be running over five furlongs or six furlongs. Six-and-a-half furlongs may have been a bit far for him. The good thing is that his pace is right back. We can look forward to him next year."

Elsewhere, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on the Dirt was won by Shanghai Bobby from He's Had Enough, and Tapizar claimed the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

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