Aidan O’Brien weaves his magic but loses the war
Magician catches English favourite The Fugue in the final strides to win by half a length.
Jockey Gary Stevens (right), rides Mucho Macho Man to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic horse race ahead of Will Take Charge (left) and Declaration of War at Santa Anita Park on Saturday night. Photograph: Mark J Terrill/AP
Magician might have secured Aidan O’Brien an eighth Breeders’ Cup victory on Saturday night yet Ireland’s champion trainer must have left Los Angeles yesterday with conflicting emotions of pride and frustration after Declaration Of War’s agonising defeat in the $5 million Classic.
Halfway down the Santa Anita stretch in the early hours on yesterday morning, Declaration Of War looked set to finally deliver O’Brien and Coolmore the dirt victory they crave more than any other as he and jockey Joseph O’Brien chased down Mucho Macho Man.
However, having travelled beautifully throughout in his first ever race on dirt, Declaration Of War (centre) couldn’t get past the leader Mucho Macho Man (right) or second-place Will Take Charge (left) beaten by just a nose and head, in a thrilling finish in America’s most valuable race. It was a third placing in the Classic for O’Brien who said: “He fought all the way to the wire but it shows how tough it is in the Classic. It was an incredible run. I thought Joseph did everything perfectly, a copybook ride, and the horse kept coming. To do that on his first run on dirt was fantastic. But he is off to stud now and he’ll make some stallion.”
Magician trod some well-covered Ballydoyle ground in the $3 million Turf, scything down the English favourite The Fugue in the final strides to win by half a length. It was a fourth win in the mile and a half event for O’Brien who turned out the colt after a near six-month absence.
The Irish horse completed a double on the card for Ryan Moore, who’d earlier landed the filly & Mare Turf on Dank. “He’s one of the best horses I’ve ridden in a long time,” Moore reported. “He switched off nice at the beginning. I was a little farther back than I wanted to be because he got a bump at the turn and he lost his back end, but he levelled off nicely, got his balance. From there he took me where I wanted to be.” The only turf race the Euro raiders didn’t win was the Mile which saw Wise Dan repeat his success of last year.