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Gold Cup at Santa Anita
Jockey John Murtagh celebrates in the winner's circle aboard Man of Iron with trainer Aidan O'Brien on the right.
Kicking off the 2009 World Championships was the $500,000 Breeders' Cup Marathon. A field of 10 older horses contested this 1 3/4 mile trip around 3 turns of the all-weather track at Santa Anita, extended from its original distance of 1 1/2 miles run last year. Mastery, winner of the St. Leger at Doncaster after finishing second in the Great Voltigeur at York, was sent off as the 7-5 favorite over 7-2 second choice Father Time, winner of the King Edward VII at Royal Ascot but fourth in the St. Leger last out, and 6-1 third choice Nite Light, exiting a runner-up finish in the Hollywood Gold Cup after winning the Turfway Park Fall Championship. Last year's winner Muhannak was back, dismissed at 24-1 having gone winless since that race.
9-year-old Cloudy's Knight tries to hold off 3-year-old Man of Iron in the stretch
22-1 longshot Black Astor was sent to the front early by jockey Alex Solis and he set slow early fractions of 48.23, 1:13.66, and 2:04.36 while as many as 2 lengths in front of Nite Light and Muhannak who battled for second. On the far turn for the last time, Black Astor tired and faded from contention, allowing 8-1 Cloudy's Knight, who sat back in 6th some 6 lengths off the pace for the first 11 furlongs, to take over the lead. Cloudy's Knight picked up the pace, getting 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.36, but 13-2 Man of Iron, who was 7th early, came through on the inside. Man of Iron and Cloudy's Knight battled for the final furlong, but Man of Iron got his nose down first in a time of 2:54.11. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to favorite Mastery in third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 9 Man of Iron Murtagh 14.80 7.20 4.40 4 Cloudy's Knight Homeister 7.40 4.60 6 Mastery Dettori 2.40 Winning Time: 2:54.11 $1 Exacta 9-4 60.10 $1 Trifecta 9-4-6 225.10 $1 Superfecta 9-4-6-10 2,845.50Results chart
Left: Man of Iron parades with his flowers. His trainer Aidan O'Brien said, "That was brilliant. We're delighted. Johnny (jockey Murtagh) gave him a wonderful ride. Johnny said that he was just going to take his time because that's the way he likes to be ridden. That's what he did. It was just a marvelous ride."
Right: The trophy presentation for the Marathon with co-owner John Magnier and Greg Avioli, President and CEO of Breeders' Cup.
Left: Man of Iron in the post parade. His jockey John Murtagh said, "It was his first time over the course so I let him just go along without any hurry. I wanted to stay out of trouble. I asked him at the three-eighths pole and he responded beautifully. He got the win right on the wire so it worked out just right."
Right: Man of Iron heads back to the barn after the race.
Left: Second place finisher Cloudy's Knight being led by his trainer Jonathan Sheppard while they wait for the results of the photo finish. Sheppard said, "What a horse. He ran his heart out. He's really not that tired. He just couldn't run any faster. He ran a great race. I'm really proud of him. He has such a big head - I was thinking it would help him in the photo. He seemed to handle the track fine. He ran his race." His jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. added, "I can't fault the horse, he ran his best race. I thought I lasted. Galloping out, he was still in front. It was just a bob of the head. As long as Jonathan is happy, I'm happy."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Mastery comes onto the track before the race. His jockey Frankie Dettori said, "He danced one too many times this year. Everything is all right, the whole race went perfect, but the horse just had a long season." His trainer Saeed bin Suroor added, "I thought he was in good form before the race but he didn't show me the form he showed in England."
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