LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Bernardini is beatable after all.
Invasor pulled alongside Bernardini in the stretch and blew past the mighty colt for a stunning victory in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
The victory Saturday in America's richest race was the ninth in 10 career starts for the 4-year-old Invasor, who was bred in Argentina and is Uruguay's Horse of the Year.
After his victory over a star-studded lineup, Invasor is likely to be voted the world's Horse of the Year.
With Brother Derek setting the pace, Bernardini made a bold move for the lead around the far turn, and seemed to take charge entering the stretch as a cheer went up from the Churchill Downs crowd of 75,132.
But Invasor, with 18-year-old Fernando Jara aboard, wouldn't let Bernardini get away. He went eyeball-to-eyeball with the even-money favorite, then dusted him off for a one-length victory.
There was an objection lodged against Bernardini by Brother Derek's jockey, Alex Solis. He claimed Bernardini banged into his colt in the stretch, but the stewards let the order of finish stand.
In the winner's circle, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was smiling, hugging people and clapping his hands.
Invasor, the second choice at 6-1, was supposed to take on Bernardini in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 7, but spiked a fever and did not run.
McLaughlin said he was hoping the time off would work in Invasor's favor, and that he would be fresh for the Classic. Was he ever.
"We were lucky to keep him on schedule," McLaughlin said. "He missed one work and one race. He gets a lot out of his gallops and we felt very good. He has come on a lot in the last 90 days."
Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out a record 17 horses and was shut out. He had second-place finishes in three races - Octave in the $2 million Juveniles Fillies, Circular Quay in the $2 million Juvenile and Friendly Island in the $2.1 million Sprint, and still finished with more than $3.4 million in earnings.
Invasor, purchased privately by Sheik Hamdan earlier this year, covered the 1 miles in 2:02.18 and returned $15.40.
ORDER OF FINISH
3. Premium Tap
5. Brother Derek
6. George Washington
7. Lava Man
8. Perfect Drift
9. Lawyer Ron
10. Sun King
11. Flower Alley
13. David Junior