While the Breeders’ Cup Classic may not have the Triple Crown status that the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes do, the $5 million purse gives it a special feel of its own. In fact, if you added the purses of the three Triple Crown races up you would still fall short of the Breeders’ Cup $5 million.
Mucho Macho Man, behind the efforts of jockey Gary Stevens and trainer Kathy Ritvo, took home the title in Santa Anita Park in the 2013 version in one of the event’s most exciting finishes in years.
Let’s take a look at some of the most shocking outcomes from Saturday’s Classic.
Game On Dude Falls Flat
Game On Dude was the odds-on favorite to win the 2013 Breeders’ Cup after what has been an impressive year. He was 5-0 on the year heading into the race, and on top of that was running on his home track.
Trainer Bob Baffert, who did have victories in two of the event’s earlier races, and co-owner Joe Torre (yes, that Joe Torre) certainly had high hopes for their horse. However, Game on Dude was the favorite in the 2012 edition of the Breeders’ Cup, and that didn’t work out too well.
Saturday’s result brought more disappointment. He finished a shocking ninth, which is a steep fall from the odds-on favorite position he occupied before the race. To make matters worse, Game On Dude would have basically wrapped up Horse of the Year honors had he won, but there is still work to be done on that front now.
Kathy Ritvo’s Journey
Kathy Ritvo became the first female trainer to ever win the Breeders’ Cup when Mucho Macho Man crossed the finish line first, which is impressive in its own right, but the overall culmination of her journey there is what really stands out.
Waiting for the results of Saturday’s photo finish may have been nerve-wrecking, but it was nothing compared to what Ritvo has gone through in the past. The mother of two got another shot at life after a daunting heart transplant in 2008. She had to wait six long months for a new one.
Ritvo came just short of becoming the first female trainer to win the Breeders’ Cup last year when Mucho Macho Man finished in second, which made this year’s victory that much sweeter.
The Finish Itself
Given the overall tension, euphoria and heartbreak that come with any last-moment finish in sports, the outcome can almost always be classified as shocking. Horse racing is certainly no different.
The Breeders’ Cup treated fans to the sport’s version of a basketball buzzer beater when Mucho Macho Man edged out Take Charge in a classic photo finish. The race was decided by a nose when Take Charge tried to live up to the moniker down the stretch run but came up just short at the end.
It was a fitting end to an event rife with storylines and drama.