Volponi was a shocking upset winner in the Classic.
In the $4 million Classic, several veterans of this year's Triple Crown wars faced off to determine who should be named champion three-year-old and possibly Horse of the Year. Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem, the 4-1 second choice in the final race of his career before going to Japan, took on 2.70-1 favorite Travers winner Medaglia D'Oro and 6.10-1 fourth choice Pacific Classic winner Came Home. Highly regarded European shipper Hawk Wing was sent off as the 6-1 third choice.
In the early stages E Dubai sprinted clear of the pack, setting the initial fractions of 23.07, 46.63, and 1:10.20 with War Emblem forcing his pace to the outside. E Dubai was finished at this point, and War Emblem briefly inherited the lead but was soon headed by Medaglia d'Oro, who held the lead after a mile in 1:35.59. The longest shot on the board, Volponi, had saved ground in fifth the whole, then on the turn, he split his tiring rivals. He got the lead at the top of the stretch and drew off to an impressive 6 1/2 length win at odds of 43.5-1 in a final time of 2:01.39 for the 1 1/4 miles. Medaglia d'Oro was second best just a neck in front of 24-1 longshot closer Milwaukee Brew. War Emblem faded to eighth while Came Home was a disappointing tenth. Hawk Wing, in his first start on dirt, could only manage seventh.
Purse: $4,000,000 Distance: 1 1/4 miles
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Volponi Santos 89.00 26.80 12.40 7 Medaglia d'Oro Bailey 4.60 3.80 12 Milwaukee Brew Prado 9.60
First time by in the Classic with E Dubai followed by War Emblem, Medaglia d'Oro, and Came Home.
Volponi returns after the race and gets his flowers.
Volponi in the winner's circle. Jockey Jose Santos said: "I said come and catch me and he just kept going and going. I think the ground was the perfect condition for him because he likes a little moisture."
77-year-old Hall of Fame trainer P.G. Johnson accepting the trophy with his daughter Karen (right) and wife Mary Kay (left). Sunday was his 57th wedding anniversary. Johnson said of Volponi: "I think he's a natural 1 1/4-mile horse and he runs just as well on the dirt as on the turf."
Volponi in the post parade. Jockey Jose Santos said: "I told my wife three days ago that he would win! This horse has been doing wonderful. I think the blinkers back on made the difference."
It was a tight photo between second place finisher Medaglia d'Oro and third place finisher Milwaukee Brew.
Second place finisher Medaglia g'Oro heads to the track for the post parade. Jockey Jerry Bailey said: "He ran well but I hate to say this; he didn't get this track. I wish it could have been either sloppy or dry. This track is not fast. It's between wet and dry. But he tries and ran his best. You have to tip your hat to the winner."
Third place finisher Milwaukee Brew. Jockey Edgar Prado said: "We had a very nice, beautiful trip. We saved ground on the turns. The winner was the best today."
Fourth place finisher Evening Attire. His trainer Pat Kelly said: "I really don't know what happened. He was trying. He put in a little bit of run late, but he was never in the race. I guess he just never handled the track. The track was never quite muddy or quite fast. He just didn't take to it."
European hopeful Hawk Wing finished seventh. His jockey Michael Kinane said: "He was galloping extravagantly with his head down and found it (the dirt) all a bit strange and he panicked a little bit. He gave me a little bit of run trying to keep up. Also, he has come to the end of a very long campaign. Probably longer than most of them."
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem was second choice at 4-1 and finished eighth. Jockey Victor Espinoza said: "He got out of the gate very good, but on the first turn I had to tap on his shoulder a little bit. He's a great horse, but he never got into the race the way he used to. I had to force him to run his race."
California based 3-year-old Came Home, sent off at 6.1-1, finished tenth. Jockey Mike Smith said: "He didn't handle the track at all and he pulled up a little funny. At the first turn, he took a kind of misstep. He just wasn't himself after that point."
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