Mike Smith on Drosselmeyer ran down Game on Dude and Chantal Sutherland in the ultimate 'battle of the exes,' winning the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. The victory was especially sweet after Smith's heartbreaking loss in last year's Classic aboard Zenyatta. Finishing third was Ruler On Ice.
Game On Dude gunned it from the gate and found a nice spot on the rail as Uncle Mo settled in behind him rounding the Clubhouse turn. Sitting behind that pair was So You Think, To Honor and Serve and Stay Thirsty. Several horses were bunched down the backstretch through fractions of 23.61 and 47.84 and further back, Drosselmeyer had a relaxed stride in a group with Ruler On Ice and Ice Box.
Several horses jockeyed for position turning for home but it was Game On Dude who struck the front while Mike Smith moved Drosselmeyer to the outside and unleashed a run. Game On Dude hung tough but could not hold off Drosselmeyer, who won by a length and a half. Game On Dude finished a length clear of Ruler On Ice who edged out Havre De Grace followed by Flat Out.
Bill Mott (trainer, Drosselmeyer, 1st) – “He ran a super race. He was mowing them down the last eighth of a mile. I guess his biggest attribute is his stamina, and he showed it today. When they were wearing down, he was coming. It's great. Maybe they'll want to run him another year.”
Mike Smith (jockey, Drosselmeyer, 1st) – “He ran an awesome race right from the first jump. Right out of the gate, he got into a great rhythm. The key to this horse is to keep him moving. If you put on the breaks it messes him up. I knew I was going to wheel out, so I just kept him going. And I was able to save ground on both turns.”
Bob Baffert (trainer, Game On Dude, 2nd) – “He ran a great race. Chantal came back clean; that's a great race. She should be proud of herself. That horse (Drosselmeyer) came down the middle. What a shame that we missed, but what a horse (Game On Dude is). He's run some big races. He just didn't see that horse. He's game, but he just didn't see the horse. Mike got her.”
Chantal Sutherland (jockey, Game On Dude, 2nd) – “He ran so hard. He ran great. He absolutely ran his race today. He was running well up front and Johnny (Velazquez on Uncle Mo) was pushing on us. He really gave us a run. But when he came to us, my horse dug in and tried harder than he ever has before. He really dug in. He ran every inch of the way and he was really tired at the end. I've never seen him that tired. I am so proud of him. He ran great.”
Kelly Breen (trainer, Ruler On Ice, 3rd) – “I think, he's a top-class 3-year-old. I don't know where this puts him with the others, but I have to say, after this race, because he was the only 3-year-old to hit the board, he'd certainly have to be under consideration (for Eclipse Award for Champion 3-Year-Old).”
Garrett Gomez (jockey, Rule On Ice, 3rd) – “I had a good run, all the way. I never got stopped. I was down inside saving all the ground I could, and I thought I was in great shape. The rail was clear and I was good. Then, when they all went for home, they all came over. So You Think dropped down on the rail and I had to adjust. I went out about four paths and made my run. And he came running. He ran good. No complaints.”
Larry Jones (trainer, Havre de Grace, 4th) – “We didn't get the trip we wanted. The 11-horse (Headache) leaned on us pretty good from the start, but she ran well. Rick (Porter) likes to run where the gusto is. No regrets about running here. She didn't do anything to tarnish herself. She has another year ahead of her.”
Ramon Dominguez (jockey, Havre de Grace, 4th) – “She tried hard. We had a good trip and she gave me all she had when I asked her at the head of the stretch.”
Scooter Dickey (trainer, Flat Out, 5th) – “No excuse, he just got outrun. That's it.”
Alex Solis (jockey, Flat Out, 5th) – “I had a good trip. He broke sharp. The winner came from behind me. I have no excuse.”
Aidan O'Brien (trainer, So You Think, 6th) – “He ran a great race. He handled the track well, but speed is a big thing, and we would have liked them to have gone a little faster.”
Ryan Moore (jockey, So You Think, 6th) – “I was closer than what I had planned to be, but he jumped well (from the gate) and there's no point taking him back on this dirt. The pace was strong, but he stayed in sweetly behind them. He just ran out of petrol toward the end. It was his first run on the dirt, in the toughest race in North America. He ran a very creditable race. He came over (from Europe) and ran well on the dirt. It was worth a chance to find out.”
Bill Mott (trainer, To Honor and Serve, 7th) – “He ran a good race. He was a little rank on the first turn. He kind of threw his head in the air, but he finally settled. When we asked him at the three-eighths pole, he came and he engaged the leaders. He's at a tender age right now. I'm sure next year he will be much better.”
Jose Lezcano (jockey, To Honor and Serve, 7th) – “We had a very good trip and we were in the clear all the way. We had no excuses.”
Nick Zito (trainer, Ice Box, 8th) – “He ran a good race. What did he get beat, four or five lengths? He was following Mike (Smith) and Mike took off, obviously. He was widest of all. He ran a good race. He showed his form.”
Corey Nakatani (jockey, Ice Box, 8th) – “”My run was actually really good. I was in a good spot, made a big run. I was trying to get right next to Mike (Smith aboard winner Drosselmeyer) at the point of the turn, to where he could carry me. And Ice Box made such a long run to get to him, it took a little bit more kick out of him than I really would have liked. He gave a great effort and got beat three lengths for the whole thing. We ended up going wide because we wanted to make sure he had a clear run. We knew he was going to make a run. He was coming into the race real good. A little more luck, and who knows.”
Neal McLaughlin (assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Rattlesnake Bridge, 9th) – “It was a tough spot. We're going to have fun with him next year. We gave it a shot.”
Calvin Borel (jockey, Rattlesnake Bridge, 9th) – “He ran pretty good. He is a grinder, and I think he will be much better as a 4-year-old next year.”
Todd Pletcher (trainer, Uncle Mo, 10th) – “I thought we were in good position, but he didn't settle really well. He looked like he was kind of struggling with the surface. (Jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) tried to turn him loose, but he said he wavered with the racetrack.”
John Velazquez (jockey, Uncle Mo, 10th) – “You're always disappointed when they don't run as good as you expect them to. He was pretty strong going to the first turn. When he went up the back, the track started breaking underneath him a little bit and he kind of lost it. He was struggling with the track for whatever reason. I tried to give him his head where he would feel comfortable, but he never really got into a good rhythm to get a good grip of the track. I didn't want to beat him up in the stretch when everybody started going by me.”
Todd Pletcher (trainer, Stay Thirsty, 11th) – “He ran kind of evenly throughout. He got stuck down on the inside, which is what we weren't hoping for. But other than that, he just got outrun.”
Javier Castellano (jockey, Stay Thirsty, 11th) – “It was a good trip for me. I was close to the pace and that's where I wanted to be. He didn't fire today, unfortunately. I think he didn't handle the track very well. Unfortunately, that's the way the race unfolded. We should have been outside a little bit, but in a big field there wasn't anything you could do. We had to deal with whatever we had to deal with.”
Michael Maker (trainer, Headache, 12th) – “He got beat up pretty good. He had some issues in the race.”
Paco Lopez (jockey, Headache, 12th) – “He tried. That was all he could do.”
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