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Breeders' Cup Preview
Jockey Pat Smullen celebrates his win in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Marathon aboard Muhannak.
The $500,000 Breeders' Cup Marathon kicked off the Saturday card of racing at Santa Anita Park. The 1 1/2 mile main track event, newly introduced this year, featured a field of just 8 (after Add Heat was scratched), the smallest of any Championship race this year. European invader Sixties Icon was sent off as the 7-5 choice, exiting three straight wins in the Glorious at Goodwood, the Geoffrey Freer at Newbury, and the Cumberland Lodge at Ascot. In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Zappa, seventh in the Goodwood at Santa Anita last out and winless since the Cougar II in July, and 7-1 Cedar Mountain, second in the Sunset Handicap at Hollywood after winning the Round Table Handicap.
Going by the first time with Booyah out front and Muhannak in fourth.
49-1 longest shot Booyah sprinted away clear around the far turn the first time, and he set a pace of 24.59, 50.06, 1:16.20, and 1:40.95 over the fast Pro-Ride surface. Zappa and Cedar Mountain sat second and third respectively for the first full lap of the oval. Entering the homestretch, 12-1 Muhannak, who had sat in midpack fourth the whole way, came out four wide to pass the tiring pacesetters, and took over at the quarter pole after 10 furlongs in 2:04.42. Muhannak opened up a 1 1/2 length lead at the 1/8 pole, but was all out late to hold off the late charge of 11-1 Church Service by a head, in a time of 2:28.24. It was just 3/4 length back to 10-1 Big Booster third, while favorite Sixties Icon rated in fifth the whole way and could not improve late, finishing fifth.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Muhannak Smullen 26.80 10.80 6.20 1 Church Service Prado 9.60 6.80 7 Big Booster Bejarano 6.80 Winning Time: 2:28.24 $1 Exacta 5-1 133.10 $1 Trifecta 5-1-7 987.10 $1 Superfecta 5-1-7-3 3,955.00Results chart
Right: Muhannak in the winner's circle. Winning owner Richard Pegum said, "It's fair to say our tickets are booked and we're ready to come back (next year). It's very exciting. It's our first time to Santa Anita. We're from Australia. We've raced horses in the Melbourne Cup Spring Carnival, in England, as well. It's our first time to the States. This has not been an easy horse to train. They've had a lot of quirks that had to be fixed and worked out. And Chester horses improve with time. Great to have Patrick here riding the horse. They did everything right. Everyone was worried there wouldn't be enough pace on the race. He took initiative around the corner, he got clear, and he got the money. So we're very excited."
Left: Owner Richard Pegum, trainer Ralph Beckett, and jockey Pat Smullen celebrate with the trophy. Beckett said, "Despite having a troubled trip (in the Diamond Stakes), he didn't have the best of draws, and Pat had to work pretty hard on him to get him up, because it was a draw back in trip, as well. It was 1 1/4 miles. So once he won there and came out of the race very well, if we were accepted here, and the horse was in form, we were always going to come, just because he's a specialist. The reality is that he's a Polytrack horse, and he is a mile-and-a-half horse. You know, the combination meant that it was slightly irrelevant whether we ran or not, or whether we won or not. The point was, the conditions for him were ideal if he coped with the traveling. With the money they offer, we had to come. It's worked out."
Right: Muhannak looks a bit wild-eyed in the post parade.
Left: Second place finisher Church Service returns after the race. His jockey Edgar Prado said, "He walked out of the gate. I wasn't worried about the pace so I was just biding my time, hoping that he would have some run at the end – and he did. I thought I was going to get there but I didn't." Mike Mitchell, trainer of both Church Service and Big Booster said, "I just felt like both horses were training so good, they deserved a shot. Both were ridden the way I wanted. I would have been happier if we had won, but they just got beat."
Right: Third place finisher Big Booster returns after the race. His jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "My horse ran well; really well. He did get a little intimidated when (stablemate Church Service) came up outside him. He stopped running for a bit and I had to get after him. But he came on and I'm very happy with how well he ran."
Fifth place finisher and beaten favorite Sixties Icon in the post parade. His jockey Frankie Dettori said, "The pace was too slow. I didn't want to have to go nine-wide, so I waited some on the turn (second time); it wasn't a matter of being in trouble, really. But when I was clear, he didn't have his usual turn of foot. If the pace had been faster, I think he would have done better."
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