Awesome Again stole Skip Away's thunder and the $5.12 million Breeders' Cup Classic. His trainer and jockey thought he might have stolen Skippy's championship as well.
Awesome Again charged into the lead nearing the wire for a three-quarter length victory over Silver Charm as Skip Away fell to sixth and missed becoming the first horse to earn $10 million.
"It was a Horse-of-the-Year performance," jockey Pat Day said after his winning ride at Churchill Downs, where a Breeders' Cup record 80,452 fans were on hand.
"I probably made a major mistake in estimating this guy (Awesome Again)," said trainer Patrick Byrne, who is based at Churchill Downs. "This horse is just incredible. He's done everything right. I know everyone's got Skip Away tattooed for Horse of the Year, but this horse shouldn't be thrown out of the running."
"That was a brilliant race," he said. "We beat some great horses."
And the 4-year-old Awesome Again beat them by charging through a gap between Skip Away and Coronado's Quest.
The Britain-based Swain galloped down the stretch on the outside to finish a neck behind Silver Charm and a nose ahead of Victory Gallop, who came from far back with his patented closing rush.
Skip Away's performance in his last rce before he's retired to breeding had to be a heartbreaking moment for Sonny Hine and his wife Carolyn, who owns the horse. He failed to pick up any piece of the purse and finished his illustrious career with earnings of $9,616,360.
| Bob Baffert's Silver Charm finished second to Awesome Again in the Breeders' Cup Classic. (AP) |
It was the second consecutive loss for Skip Away and the first time he has finished worse than third in 27 races dating back to his 12th-place finish in the 1996 Kentucky Derby.
"He simply cannot handle this surface," said Skip Away's jockey, Jerry Bailey.
For a moment, it looked as though Silver Charm would win his second consecutive race worth more than $4 million and give trainer Bob Baffert his second Breeders' Cup win of the day. Baffert and Silver Charm's jockey, Gary Stevens, won the Juvenile Fillies on Silverbulletday.
Awesome Again, coupled in the betting with Coronado's Quest and Touch Gold because of common ownership, returned $11.40, $4.60 and $3. He earned $2,662,400, boosting his career earnings to $4,374,590 for owner Frank Stronach, a Canadian industrialist.
Silver Charm paid $3.80 and $3 and Swain was $4 to show.
Completing the order of finish were Victory Gallop, Coronado's Quest, Skip Away, Running Stag, Touch Gold, Arch and Gentlemen. Gentlemen was supplemented into the race for $800,000 because neither he nor his sire had been nominated.
Silver Charm, who had not been nominated, was supplemented for $480,000.
Coronado's Quest, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, broke on top and led through the first mile. At that point, Silver Charm was second, Arch third and Skip Away fourth. Awesome Again was seventh.
The final quarter-mile became a cavalry charge and at the eighth-pole, Silver Charm was ahead, in front of Coronado's Quest, who was a half-length in front of Swain. Awesome Again was another length back and flying.
By this time, Skip Away had faded to sixth.
For the 45-year-old Day, it was the third win in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He won the first one in 1984 with Wild Again and won again in 1990 with Unbridled.
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