MUCHO Macho Man, trained by Katherine Ritvo and ridden by Gary Stevens, won the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.
In a pulsating renewal of America’s richest race, Aidan O’Brien’s Declaration Of War ran a huge race to be a close third in a virtual blanket finish, with Will Take Charge just denied in second as Mucho Macho Man hung on to give 50-year-old Stevens a first win in the Classic.
Ritvo, meanwhile, was becoming the first woman to train a Classic victor.
Stevens’ mount moved powerfully into contention at the top of the stretch as last year’s winner Fort Larned cried enough, but Will Take Charge rattled home with Declaration Of War staying on again for Joseph O’Brien and it was desperately close at the line.
Mucho Macho Man, second 12 months ago, held on by a nose and a head, to complete a fairytale for Stevens, who only returned to race riding this year after retirement which had seen him take up acting and punditry roles.
O’Brien said of Declaration Of War, who will now be retired: “It was a fantastic run, and it just goes to show how tough it is in the Classic. All credit to the lads for sending him over here.
“He jumped well. Joseph got a good position on the turn and he fought all the way to the line at the end.
“It was an incredible run and we are delighted.
“I thought Joseph did everything perfectly, it was a copybook ride really and the horse still kept coming and coming at the end.
“To do that on his first run on dirt was fantastic, but he is off to stud now and will make some stallion.”
A jubilant Stevens said: “This is a dream come true – I always said the one race missing in my career was the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
A spectacular two days at the Breeders’ Cup for Europe was capped by two more winners on a Saturday night to remember for Ryan Moore.
The former champion jockey was at his brilliant best in landing the Filly & Mare Turf on Dank for his boss Sir Michael Stoute, and bettered even that effort when flying late to snatch the Turf on Aidan O’Brien’s Magician, denying William Buick and The Fugue.
Winning the race for the fourth time, O’Brien said: “Ryan gave him a wonderful ride – a big ‘well done’ to everyone involved, and especially to the lads for letting me move him up to this trip.”
The victories of Dank and Magician took the European tally for the meeting to five, after wins for London Bridge, Chriselliam and Outstrip on Friday.
At home, Tony McCoy moved to within five victories of 4,000 winners over jumps when Oscar Fortune struck at Carlisle yesterday.
The 18-times champion jockey had been out of luck with two previous rides at the Cumbria circuit, but made no mistake in the Mr & Mrs Handley Ruby Wedding Novices’ Hurdle. McCoy earlier suffered disappointment in the bookmakers.co.uk Beginners’ Chase as 4-5 favourite Holywell could finish only third behind the impressive Many Clouds (5-2).
McCoy also finished second aboard Bernardelli in the opening Northern Racing Club ‘Saturday Naps Challenge’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
Later, Cloudy Too made an impressive seasonal return in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase, in which McCoy finished second aboard Tap Night.