LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Talk about a battle of the sexes – and a couple of exes.
Drosselmeyer, a 14-1 long shot, roared down the middle of the track and caught Game On Dude in the closing strides to win the $5 million Classic by 1½ lengths Saturday, capping a weekend of upsets at the Breeders’ Cup.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith beat his former fiancé, Chantal Sutherland, who rode Game On Dude. A year ago, Smith walked off the track in tears after losing the race on superstar Zenyatta by a head.
“Chantal did a great job,” said Bob Baffert, who trains Game On Dude. “I can’t believe she got beat by Mike Smith.”
The former couple, together on and off for six years, broke up in 2010, but remain cordial, even taking part in a “Battle of the Exes” match race at Del Mar in August.
Then, and now, Smith was the winner.
“I turned the page a long time ago,” he said. “I wish everyone else would.”
Drosselmeyer ran 1¼ miles in 2:04.27 under the lights at Churchill Downs and paid $31.60 to win. Ruler On Ice was third.
Filly Havre de Grace finished fourth. Flat Out, the 7-2 favorite, was fifth for 70-year-old trainer Scooter Dickey.
So You Think, the 5-1 co-third choice with Uncle Mo, was sixth. To Honor and Serve was seventh, followed by Ice Box, Rattlesnake Bridge, Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty and Headache.
Smith tied Jerry Bailey with his 15th Breeders’ Cup victory after winning the Sprint earlier Saturday.
Sutherland appeared on her way to becoming the first female jockey to win North America’s richest race.
Instead, she was aced out by Smith.
“When I looked at the wire and I saw white I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Mike Smith. Ugh,’” she said. “But I’m very happy for Mike. That’s his 15th Breeders’ Cup so he’s a pretty good rider.”
As expected, Game On Dude went right to the front and fought off a challenge from Uncle Mo on the turn for home. Uncle Mo, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, was making a comeback from a life-threatening liver disease that knocked him out of the Triple Crown races.
After Uncle Mo briefly got his head in front, Game On Dude dispensed with him and had the lead in the stretch.
Smith and Drosselmeyer, the 2010 Belmont Stakes winner, were back in 10th with a quarter-mile to go. They angled to the far outside and unleashed a powerful run down the center of the track, with Game On Dude hugging the rail.
Drosselmeyer surged to the lead in the final sixteenth of a mile for only his second win since last year’s Belmont.