The 2012 Breeders Cup is underway in Los Angeles and 10 races are already in the books.
Of the nine on Friday, there were some impressive wins by horses that weren't anywhere near the favorite pool, and helped make those who placed risky bets all the more merrier.
Underdogs were the story of the day at Santa Anita Park, as most of the day's big winners were not favored when the race began.
The big race is still scheduled for Saturday night, so there's plenty of action still to be had from one of sports' longest standing traditions.
Here's a list of the most impressive Day 1 winners. Friday was riddled with upsets across the board, so these horses surely qualify under that title.
An 8/1 bet in the morning, Hightail got trainer D. Wayne Lukas his 19th Breeders' Cup win. That number is matched by no other trainer in the history of the event. It marked the first win in the nine-race 2012 for Hightail.
Heavy favorite Merit Man, who was a 1/2 posting at the start of the race, couldn't hold off Hightail in what was the smallest field in Breeders' Cup history. Two race-day scratches whittled this event down to five, and Merit Man couldn't get it done down the stretch.
Hightail had the most experience of any horse in the race, yet it took a late charge down the inside and a quick move by jockey Rajiv Maragh to squeeze in between the railing and the leader for a late win.
The long-race winner won in startling fashion, pulling away by 4 1/4 lengths down the stretch for the easy win. The payout for the three-year-old and up was $36.40, far and away the best payout for an underdog of the day.
Favored Atigun finished third, and Grassy took second.
It was the slow start and huge payout that made this an impressive win for jockey Aaron Gryder in his first ever Breeders' Cup win. Slow out of the gate, Calidoscopio proved that stamina and smarts are the key points for the Marathon race.
Here's what Gryder had to say after the big win:
They said you can close your eyes for the first mile then pick them up. At about the three-quarters pole he began to pick them up and I started feeling good. He was rolling.
Calidoscopio had 17/1 odds when the race began.
Zagora—Filly and Mare Turf
In the third upset of these three wins, Zagora proved again that the right method of action was to sift through the mess.
Favored horse The Fugue finished in third, and was the victim of that strategy all race long. Zagora, ridden by Javier Castellano, made a move late in the race to start an epic feud with Marketing Mix.
The two dueled down the stretch, but it was ultimately Zagora that prevailed. It was a $20.40 payout for the heavy underdog, marking another horse that finished with double-digit money after winning.
This win marks the fifth of 2012 for Zagora, and the horse now has five wins in nine races this calendar year. This one was the most impressive of the bunch, though in one of the country's biggest venues.
Information from BreedersCup.com and ESPN.com was used to compile this report. Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and a member of the Breaking News Team.
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