No joy for Irish in Breeders’ Cup Mile with California Chrome beaten in Classic

Aidan O’Brien’s Alice Springs never in race, Limato can’t place as Tourist beats Tepin

 Arrogate, ridden by jockey Mike Smith, digs in to pip California Chrome in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Photograph: Getty

Arrogate, ridden by jockey Mike Smith, digs in to pip California Chrome in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Photograph: Getty

 

European raiders were out of luck as Tourist denied Tepin back-to-back wins in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.

Hopes were high for the Henry Candy-trained Limato in particular, but he looked to have no excuse having had every chance under Harry Bentley, eventually finishing just outside the places.

Tourist stuck to his guns when switched for a run on the rail and although Royal Ascot winner Tepin was cutting him down, Joel Rosario’s mount had done enough on his third try at the race, having been eighth 12 months ago.

Winning trainer Bill Mott said: “I looked at the horses in the field and I thought this is one of the most competitive races they have on this day.

“You wonder if you are coming in with a horse that is good enough, and he was good enough. But you have to have the trip (clear run).

“The trip is so imperative, he got an inside trip, saved ground and opened up going for home.”

Tepin’s trainer Mark Casse said: “I’m just proud of her, this filly has been good for so long.

“Unfortunately we just came up a touch short, but we are going to go away with our head held high. She’s just an unbelievable horse.

“I wouldn’t bet on that (run last last race), she has trained as well as she has ever trained. She can come back again next year.”

Candy said: “He was a little bit free early on, everything went right except for that and it is nothing to do with the (mile) trip, as he wasn’t going to win from two out.

“It is too late in the year, really. I’ve enjoyed the experience of coming here immensely and there are plenty of good days ahead to look forward to.”

Bentley added: “He flew the gates, in fact he came out so fast I had to take him back. But if anything he was a little keen and then just approaching the final bend he was not quite going in his usual way.”

Aidan O’Brien said of Alice Springs: “Alice was a little bit flat, she has had a long, hard season. We will freshen her up and look forward to next year.”

Later Arrogate ran California Chrome down in the shadow of the post to grab a thrilling Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Dubai World Cup winner California Chrome set easy fractions in front and Victor Espinoza looked to have matters under control as he went for home.

Art Sherman’s superstar opened up a gap on the Khalid Abdullah-owned Arrogate, but the young pretender would not be denied under Mike Smith, to give trainer Bob Baffert a third Classic victory in a row.

Baffert said: “I was a bit worried, he was just loping around. I thought ‘man, I hope I have him fit enough’.

“I thought there was no chance turning for home that he could catch Chrome — Chrome is such a great horse. It takes a lot to get me excited and that was some race.

“That last 20 yards (I thought we had a chance). This horse is just learning how to run and what a great race.

“I’m just glad I’m at the top end of it, California Chrome is a champion. I’m surprised I beat him, I didn’t think I could beat him going in.”

Sherman was gracious in defeat and pointed towards the Pegasus World Cup invitational at Gulfstream Park in January as being the final race of California Chrome’s career.

He said: “I’m very proud of the way he ran and there are no excuses. What can I say, he ran his eyeballs out.

“This was really a great race. He will be back for sure.”

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