Mucho Macho Man avenged last year's runner-up finish in winning the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic by a nose in the race's 30th running on Saturday at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
While that improvement to get to the winner's circle was redemption in and of itself, the theme extended to those closest to the horse as well.
Jockey Gary Stevens already had a Hall of Fame career under his belt and had retired from horse racing for seven years before returning this season.
Among the many accolades he had collected in his first stint, a Breeder's Cup Classic trophy always eluded him. This time, the 50-year-old veteran wasn't to be denied on a magnificent horse trained by Kathy Ritvo.
Gary Stevens tells Kathy Ritvo "You just made an old man happy." Mucho Macho Man with a brave win. #BC13— J.J. Hysell (@trifectabox) November 3, 2013
It is Ritvo's background that makes for the most stirring renaissance of the triumphant trio. She became the first female trainer to enter a victorious horse in the history of this high-stakes race.
But that wouldn't have been possible if Ritvo hadn't survived a heart transplant back in November of 2008, per former ESPN.com reporter Pat Forde.
If there was ever a side to root for in the elite field of 11, it had to be Mucho Macho Man's.
Although Stevens had already won the Preakness Stakes aboard a long shot in Oxbow earlier this year and had a third winning ride in this year's Distaff Stakes, his comeback would not have been quite complete without a Classic win in tow.
Stevens had won five of the other Breeders' Cup races, but only one of those came in this millennium before his outstanding display at Santa Anita.
I'm still admiring @muchomachoman holy crap what a horse. Thanks Oliver— Gary Stevens (@HRTVGary) November 3, 2013
To shift the focus back to the race, one could argue that it wasn't Stevens' best mount. Mucho Macho Man broke late enough to secure the win, but a late charge by runner-up Will Take Charge and Declaration of War created a photo finish not soon to be forgotten.
Should Gary Stevens retire?
Even Flat Out, who finished one spot ahead of Game On Dude in eighth this year, was back in the field after finishing third the previous time this race was run.
A history of falling short had befallen Mucho Macho Man before this win. He had also come in third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby and had seven wins, but 11 other finishes in the money in 22 previous starts.
Now, the horse and jockey who could never quite close the deal have the lucrative $5 million Classic on their resumes, while Ritvo set the standard for women in training with this landmark achievement.
Note: Statistics and information are courtesy of BreedersCup.com, unless otherwise indicated.