Raven's Pass blows by Curlin for Classic win

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ARCADIA, Calif. --- The favorites, especially Horse of the Year Curlin, didn't have a shot at the Breeders' Cup on Saturday.

Raven's Pass spoiled Curlin's bid for a second consecutive Breeders' Cup Classic, winning the $5 million race by 13/4 lengths on Santa Anita's new synthetic surface.

The defending champion, who had never raced on such a surface, wound up fourth.

Britain-based Raven's Pass capped a day of long-shot upsets at the season-ending championships, with European-based horses winning five of nine races. Seven of the winners were long shots.

Garrett Gomez had a big afternoon, too, becoming the first jockey to win three races in one day in the event's history. He also won the Filly & Mare Turf on opening day Friday.

On the track, the richest two days in thoroughbred racing went off without incident, surely relieving Breeders' Cup officials who were mindful of Eight Belles' fatal breakdown after this year's Kentucky Derby and George Washington being euthanized on the track after last year's Classic at New Jersey's Monmouth Park.

Trainers Bob Baffert and John Gosden were double-winners Saturday, while jockey Frankie Dettori rode two winners Saturday and jockey Mike Smith won two Friday.

Among owners, Darley Stable claimed three victories, while Princess Haya of Jordan shared in two, including the Classic.

Raven's Pass won by 13/4 lengths in his first race on a synthetic surface, something the Breeders' Cup tried for the first time in its 25-year history. The event returns to Santa Anita next year.

It was a new experience for 4-5 favorite Curlin, too. More than $1 million was wagered on the reigning Horse of the Year to win, an amount so huge the tote board couldn't display it.

The switch from dirt to a mix of rubber, fibers and sand helped attract a record number of European entries, because many of those horses train on such surfaces.

Curlin's biggest challenger was thought to be Big Brown, but the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner was forced to retire earlier this month because of injury.

Instead, the rest of the world ganged up on Curlin.

Raven's Pass ran 11/4 miles in a track record 1:59.27 under Dettori, who twice delighted the crowd with his trademark flying dismount in the winner's circle.

Sent off at 13-1 odds, Raven's Pass paid $29, $15.80 and $8.

Under Robby Albarado, Curlin left the starting gate near the back of the pack, while Casino Drive from Japan took the lead.

Entering the final turn, Albarado asked Curlin to pick up the pace, and he responded with an explosive move. The crowd of 51,331 roared as Curlin flashed into contention, taking a narrow lead at the top of the stretch.

As soon as Curlin moved, though, Raven's Pass was hot on his tail and went by North America's all-time leading money earner.

"Once I got behind Curlin, I said, 'That's half the job done. He's going to take me there, and sure he did,' " Dettori said.


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