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Saint Liam's resume now includes Classic

5-year-old colt stakes his claim for horse of year, holding off Flower Alley by a length for his fourth Grade I win.

By wire services
Published October 30, 2005


NEW YORK - Race after race, the unbeatens and defending champions stumbled Saturday. First Samurai, Lost in the Fog, Ashado, Shakespeare.

Then came the Breeders' Cup Classic - and Saint Liam set everything right at Belmont Park, barreling to victory in America's richest race and likely clinching horse of the year honors.

"We have the best horse around," boasted winning trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who also won the $1-million Sprint with Silver Train. "Anybody left standing, they were here today and we beat them. We didn't duck any kind of horse in any race."

Some of racing's top stars missed the $4.68-million Classic, including Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex, '04 Classic winner Ghostzapper and Dubai World Cup winner Roses in May.

But Saint Liam can make a strong claim for racing's top prize - the 5-year-old son of Saint Ballado has four Grade I victories, including the Woodward, Stephen Foster Handicap and Donn Handicap.

Owner William K. Warren said Saint Liam had raced for the last time and would be retired to Lane's End Farm in Kentucky. Later, though, he and Dutrow discussed whether Afleet Alex might deserve horse of the year.

"If he wants to run against us in 45 days, we're ready," Dutrow said.

A crowd of 54,289 showed up on a crisp, fall day and the Classic was well worth the wait after seven Breeders' Cup races produced plenty of upsets but little excitement.

Taking the lead at the top of the stretch, Saint Liam held off Flower Alley by a length and gave Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey his fifth win in the Classic and 15th victory in the Breeders' Cup.

Sent off at 2-1 in a field of 13, Saint Liam bided his time behind leaders Sun King, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, and Suave until the field reached the far turn. And that's when Bailey sent his horse four-wide to take command.

"We just got lucky," Dutrow said. "I just couldn't be happier."

Saint Liam broke from post No. 13 and covered the 11/4 miles in 2:01.49, becoming the second straight favorite to win the centerpiece of the eight-race, $15-million-plus Breeders' Cup. Ghostzapper won it last year and was voted horse of the year.

Saint Liam returned $6.80 to win and earned $2,433,600, boosting his career bankroll to $3,696,960.

In the winner's circle, family and friends of the owners, wearing Saint Liam baseball caps, swamped Bailey, and the rider was also congratulated by New York Yankees manager Joe Torre.

Bailey, 0-for-6 on the day entering the Classic, came up big in the nick of time. The 48-year-old jockey has been considering retirement and this could be his last Breeders' Cup race.

"I'll ride through Thanksgiving and think about it," Bailey said.

The anticipated duel between Saint Liam and Borrego never materialized as Borrego finished 10th.

Borrego made a mild move before flattening out. Both horses had won major Belmont stakes as Breeders' Cup preps and both were very close in odds, with Borrego at 5-2.

Trainer Beau Greely thought Borrego might be spent after impressive Grade I wins in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar and the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont. "The horse who won may be horse of the year," he said. "He certainly deserves it. Mine might have been a touch over the top, but that's horse racing."

BY THE NUMBERS: The paid crowd of 54,289 was the best of the five Breeders' Cups held in New York. ... The on-track betting handle was a Belmont record $14,658,560, erasing the mark of $14,461,402 for Smarty Jones' failed Triple Crown bid in the 2004 Belmont Stakes. ... Total handle, from all betting sources, was $122,106,154, a Breeders' Cup record. ... Trainer Todd Pletcher, who won two Breeders' Cups last year, was winless in eight tries in six races. The day wasn't a total loss as three Pletcher trainees hit the board: Flower Alley (second in the Classic), Ashado (third in the Distaff) and Lion Tamer (third in the Sprint). ... Belmont also presented two Grade III, $250,000 undercard stakes. Magna Graduate won the Discovery Handicap for 3-year-olds, rallying past Preakness runnerup Scrappy T by three-quarters of a length with Buzzards Bay third. Gotaghostofachance beat Captain Squire by a half-length in the Sport Page.TURF

NEW YORK - Shirroco made his first win of the year a big one.

The 4-year-old colt took the lead after pacesetter Shake the Bank dropped back around the final turn.

Shirocco is the first German-bred to win a Breeders' Cup. Trainer Andre Fabre of France won his fourth Breeders' Cup. It was French jockey Christophe Soumillon's first Breeders' Cup win.

"This is very special," Soumillon said. "To win here in New York is something unbelievable."

The first four finishers hailed from Europe. The Irish-bred Ace was second, followed by Azamour. Bago from France was fourth.

Shakespeare finished 12th in losing for the first time after five straight wins.

Saturday's grass winners paid double digits: Shirocco $19.60; Artie Schiller $13.20, mile; Intercontinental $32.20.

DISTAFF

NEW YORK - There was no repeat and no record for Ashado.

The 4-year-old, in the final race of a storied career, was outrun by 30-1 shot Pleasant Home in the biggest upset in this race. Ashado finished third as she failed to defend her title and came up short in her bid to become the No. 1 female earner in North America. A first or second would have catapulted Ashado's total past Azeri's winnings of $4,079,820.

Pleasant Home, with jockey Cornelio Velasquez aboard, emerged off the final turn to take command and claim the top prize of $1.04-million. The horse returned a record $63.50 for the stunning performance, which broke a four-race losing streak.

Ashado, the 2-1 favorite, was running on her favorite track and coming off an Oct. 1 victory in the Beldame here. She had won four of her six races at Belmont. It was the third Breeders' Cup appearance for Ashado, who will turn her attention to breeding. She finished with $3,931,440.

NEW YORK - Artie Schiller, the beaten favorite last year, rebounded, ending Leroidesanimaux's eight-race winning streak.

It was jockey Garrett Gomez's second win of the day. He got the mount when regular rider Richard Migliore was sidelined with a leg injury.

In the Breeders' Cup last year at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, Artie Schiller had traffic trouble in both turns. Saturday Gomez found room in the lane to angle out and edge past Leroidesanimaux. "As soon as I got out at the top of the lane, he did the rest," Gomez said of the 4-year-old colt.

Singletary, last year's Mile winner, was eighth.

Funfair was euthanized after fracturing his right hind leg. The horse from Britain, ridden by Edgar Prado, pulled up along the backstretch shortly after the race began. Prado dismounted, and the 6-year-old gelding ran around the track as the race continued. Funfair was finally stopped by track personnel, but the injury was untreatable and the horse was euthanized on the track.

SPRINT

NEW YORK - Lost in the Fog's bid for horse of the year ended 200 yards short of the finish line.

After taking the lead on the far turn, the 3-year-old colt had nothing left inside the eighth pole and faded to seventh as long-shot Silver Train edged fellow long-shot Taste of Paradise by a head. When it became clear the 3-5 favorite couldn't win, jockey Russell Baze eased up on the drive to the wire. "Just inside the eighth pole, he had nothing," Baze said.

Lost in the Fog, bidding to be the first pure sprinter named horse of the year, had won 10 straight at eight different tracks by a combined 663/4 lengths since his career began just under a year ago at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, Calif.

A claim of foul by Garrett Gomez, the rider of Taste of Paradise, against Silver Train for interference in the stretch was disallowed.

Silver Train had the second-highest payout in Sprint history. It was trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.'s first Breeders' Cup win. It was jockey Edgar Prado's second win of the day.

FILLY & MARE TURF

NEW YORK - Trainer Bobby Frankel won his fourth Breeders' Cup as Intercontinental spoiled Ouija Board's bid for a repeat victory.

Intercontinental paid $32.20 to win, posting the biggest upset in the seven-year history of the race. The 5-year-old mare scored a front-running victory as jockey Rafael Bejarano skillfully rated the pace en route to his first Breeders' Cup victory.

He got the often headstrong Intercontinental relaxed enough to carry her speed 11/4 miles on the good course.

"He couldn't have rode a better race," said Frankel, who has saddled 65 Cup runners. "She had never been a mile-and-a-quarter before. I wasn't really comfortable until five jumps from the wire."

Ouija Board, the 2-1 favorite, made a strong run in the lane but had to settle for second.

Sundrop was taken away by van after the race. The attending veterinarians reported she was "leg weary" but otherwise fine.

JUVENILE FILLIES

NEW YORK - Favored Folklore stormed to the lead off the final turn and held off a late charge by Wild Fit.

The victory was the first Breeders' Cup win for jockey Edgar Prado after 41 unsuccessful rides, and gave trainer D. Wayne Lukas his unprecedented fifth victory in the Juvenile Fillies. Overall, Lukas has 18 Breeders' Cup champions - the most of any trainer.

"It worked out beautifully," Prado said. "Wayne gave me exact instructions to come running out of the gate but give her a little breather on the backside. She ran a good race."

Folklore grabbed the early lead out of the inside post position, dueling with Knights Templar as they headed for the stretch. Folklore then charged to the front again, hitting the finish line 11/4 lengths ahead of the fast closing Wild Fit.

"When you win one on this day, they become special ones and they get a special place in the barn," Lukas said. "We've been blessed with some good ones."