Vino Rosso wins Breeders’ Cup Classic scarred by fatal injury to Mongolian Groom

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Vino Rosso, jockeyed by Irad Ortiz Jr. and trained by Todd Pletcher, overpowered the early favorite McKinzie down the homestretch to win the $6 million 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. Higher Power was third. Mongolian Groom was pulled up by jockey Abel Cedillo near the eighth pole and vanned off the track to vets on the grounds with what AAEP on call vet Scott Palmer called a “serious injury.” The Breeders’ Cup later announced that he sustained a fracture to his left hind limb and was humanely euthanized.

The Breeders’ Cup has since issued a statement, saying:

The death of Mongolian Groom is a loss to the entire horse racing community. Our equine and human athletes’ safety is the Breeders’ Cup’s top priority. We have worked closely with Santa Anita leading up to the World Championships to promote enhanced equine safety. Santa Anita has implemented numerous industry-leading reforms to enhance the existing health and safety measures with the intent of providing a safe racing environment. In addition, Breeders’ Cup always observes the most thorough up-to-date medication practices and restrictions, testing protocols, equine security and surveillance program, veterinary exams, injury management protocols and racing surface testing. These measures are in place to ensure our athletes are racing under the safest and most transparent conditions possible.

The Breeders’ Cup also said that vet Dr. Larry Bramlage will conduct an independent evaluation, and the results will be published when completed. Santa Anita has

Bob Baffert‘s McKinzie took over the lead after the final turn, and Vino Rosso, Italian for “red wine,” shot down the homestretch to pass McKinzie and breeze over the wire. Owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, Vino Rosso gave Pletcher his first Classic winner in 13 starts. He went off at 9/2 odds from the No. 10 spot, paying $11.20 to win, $5.80 to place and $4.00 to show.

 

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. was fresh off his win in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf aboard Bricks and Mortar just an hour earlier. The Classic was Ortiz Jr.’s fourth win of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, including a victory on Four Wheel Drive, the first American Pharoah baby to win a Breeders’ Cup race.

Elate, the lone mare in the field, finished 4th. This comes almost 10 years to the day after Zenyatta became the first-ever female to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

For McKinzie, the Classic was his first race without longtime jockey Mike Smith. Smith rode Yoshida instead, finishing 8th on the 5-year-old.

Full 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic results:

  1. Vino Rosso
  2. McKinzie
  3. Higher Power
  4. Elate
  5. Math Wizard
  6. Seeking the Soul
  7. Code of Honor
  8. Yoshida
  9. War of Will
  10. Owendale

Pegasus races planned for Gulfstream and Santa Anita in 2024

Horse racing on Opening day of the winter-spring meet at Santa Anita Park.
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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After seven Pegasus World Cup events, it’s evidently time for change.

1/ST Racing, which has hosted the entirety of the Pegasus series to this point at Gulfstream Park, is planning for two Pegasus days in 2024 – one at Gulfstream and the other at Santa Anita. Details aren’t finalized and it’s unclear how it would fit in the racing calendar, but 1/ST is planning for both dirt and turf Pegasus races as part of the Santa Anita program.

Gulfstream played host to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on the dirt Saturday, along with the $1 million Pegasus Turf and the $500,000 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf.

“I’d really love to see that we bring it to the West Coast,” 1/ST President and CEO Belinda Stronach said. “That will probably happen in 2024. What we did this year for 2023 was said, `OK, we have a number of great race days, let’s coordinate those better and call it the 1/ST Racing Tour and recognize great achievements within our own footprint.”

Saturday marked the first stop on that new 1/ST Racing Tour. Along with some of the biggest race days at 1/ST tracks – like Florida Derby day at Gulfstream on April 1, Santa Anita Derby day on April 8 and the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20 – there are a pair of days where the tour will be running simultaneously.

This coming Saturday, Gulfstream will play host to the Holy Bull while Santa Anita has the Robert B. Lewis – both of them Kentucky Derby prep races.

And on March 4, Gulfstream has the Fountain of Youth, another major Derby prep, while San Anita has the Big Cap. Plans call for coordinated post times at those two tracks on those days to provide the best racing action every 20 minutes, as well as some unique betting options.

“We can never rest on our laurels,” Stronach said. “We have to keep moving forward. We have a great team that’s really committed.”

The main Pegasus race is one of the biggest-paying races in North America. Art Collector claimed about $1.8 million from a $3 million purse with his win on Saturday. In 2022, only the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf featured bigger prizes among U.S. races, and the $3 million Pegasus purse is equal to the one offered last year at the Kentucky Derby.

Regardless of what happens with the Santa Anita plan for future Pegasus events, Stronach insisted Gulfstream will continue having Pegasus days. There has even been talk about Gulfstream playing host to Breeders’ Cup races again, something that hasn’t happened since 1999.

“This is staying here in Miami,” Stronach said. “Pegasus has a home here in Miami. We can’t move Pegasus from Miami. We have great partners here and it’s more than just a day now. We have deep roots here in Miami.”

Arabian Knight earns Baffert record 6th win in Southwest

Betway Challow Hurdle Day - Newbury Racecourse
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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Arabian Knight won the $750,000 Southwest Stakes by 5 1/2 lengths at Oaklawn, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record sixth victory in the race.

The colt came into the Kentucky Derby prep as one of the most highly touted 3-year-olds in the country. Arabian Knight, who was purchased for $2.3 million as a 2-year-old, was making his second career start and first on a sloppy track in front of 27,000 fans in Arkansas.

“These good horses are hard to come by,” said Baffert, who was on hand in Hot Springs. “We’ve had a lot of luck here at Oaklawn, so it was nice to have a horse like this.”

However, Arabian Knight was ineligible to earn the Kentucky Derby qualifying points awarded to the winner because Baffert has been suspended for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The penalty, which ends shortly after this year’s Derby on May 6, stems from Medina Spirit’s medication violation after the colt won the 2021 Derby and was later disqualified. Baffert is challenging the ban in court.

Ridden by John Velazquez, Arabian Knight ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:43.50 and paid $2.80 to win. He is 2-0 and has career earnings of $544,275.

“He ran 1:43 and change, that’s racehorse time and he did it without taking a deep breath,” Baffert said. “This was a big effort.”

Red Route One closed from last to finish second, and Frosted Departure was third. Sun Thunder was fourth, followed by Jace’s Road, Corona Bolt, El Tomate and Western Ghent.

At Gulfstream in Florida, Baffert’s entry Defunded finished second in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup, beaten by 4 1/2 lengths by Art Collector on Saturday.