ARCADIA, Calif. - The sensational 2-year-old filly Halfbridled overcame her adverse post position to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies yesterday at Santa Anita Park. She carried Julie Krone to the first victory for a female jockey in the Breeders' Cup.
The 2 1/2 -length victory capped a phenomenal inaugural season for the large, powerful daughter of Unbridled. Halfbridled won all four of her races with the ease of a potential superstar. Even the extremely disadvantageous 14 post in the Juvenile Fillies couldn't thwart her.
"Her first leap out of the gate was so powerful that she put me two lengths in front of about six horses," Krone said. "I was able to tuck in. ... From then on, I can honestly say I did a lot more pulling than pushing."
Halfbridled sailed widely into the first turn. Richard Mandella, her trainer, credited Krone for the smoothness of transition from outsider at the start to contender around the turn. After returning a year ago from a 3 1/2 -year retirement, Krone, 40, has regained her place at the top of her profession.
"Not just any jockey could have been as cool as she was going around the first turn," Mandella said. "She finessed herself like an ice skater."
Halfbridled secured the lead around the far turn, and then, as she turned for home, Krone, noted for her astute communication with horses, had a little talk with the filly.
"She literally put her ears up and said, `When are we going to start running?' " Krone said. "I said, `About now would be nice.' "
Krone went to work with the whip, and Halfbridled soared toward the wire with what her rider called "that beautiful, tremendous stride." Around Mandella's barn, the workers have taken to calling the filly "Ruffian." Ruffian was arguably the greatest filly who ever raced.
As Krone eased Halfbridled back to the winner's circle, she said she squeezed the big filly's neck and said, "Thank you, Ruffian."
Forest Music, who sizzled in her debut Oct. 8 at Laurel Park, flopped in her debut on the national stage. She finished last after leading early, eased across the finish line by Edgar Prado.
Mandella became the third trainer to saddle winners of both Breeders' Cup races for 2-year-olds when Action This Day, a 26-1 long shot making his third start, charged from 10th to win the Juvenile by 2 1/4 lengths. The Mandella-trained Minister Eric was second.
"They both ran their hearts out," Mandella said.
Cuvee, the 8-5 favorite, finished last, succumbing to his outside post and the 1 1/16-mile distance. After four wins in five starts, this was his first race around two turns. Cuvee was forced wide around the first turn, and then jockey Jerry Bailey eased him down the stretch.
In a three-horse finish that brought the crowd to its feet - and kept it there as officials examined the finish photo - High Chaparral and Johar crossed the wire together in the Turf in the first dead heat in Breeders' Cup history.
High Chaparral, the Irish colt who won the Turf last year, caught Falbrav at the wire just as Johar, trained by Mandella, completed a powerful rally with a last-second surge on the outside.
The Laurel-based Toccet finished next to last in the nine-horse field.
Six Perfections tossed Bailey, her jockey, behind the starting gate. She fought. She fretted. But once inside the gate and once in stride on the unfamiliar California turf, the 3-year-old French filly became the fifth female to win the Mile.
From the same camp as Domedriver, upset winner of last year's Mile, Six Perfections overcame her 13 post to win by three quarters of a length in her first race outside Europe. Said Bailey: "She has a great turn of foot and put in an exceptional performance."
Filly and Mare Turf
European horses grabbed the top three spots in the Filly and Mare Turf, led by 4-year-old Islington, who surged from mid-pack to win by a neck. The England-based filly finished third in this race last year.
Her jockey, Kieren Fallon, perennially the leading rider in England, secured his first Breeders' Cup win. He described Islington as "one of the best fillies I've ever ridden."
The overlooked speedball Cajun Beat captured the Sprint at 22-1 odds in 1 minute, 7.95 seconds, the third-fastest clocking in 20 renewals of the six-furlong race. Aldebaran, the favorite, dropped far back early and finished sixth.
Trained by Steve Margolis at Churchill Downs, Cajun Beat, a 3-year-old gelding, contested the fastest early pace ever in the Sprint and still pulled away for a 2 1/4 -length win. He resisted a challenge by former claimer Shake You Down, who missed his break, rushed into second and hung on for third.
"This horse always shows up," said Scott Lake, trainer of the Belmont-based gelding who spent most of his career in Maryland. "He ran a good race to be third."
The day began with Adoration, the longest shot at 40-1, stunning bettors with a gate-to-wire victory in the Distaff. The 4 1/2 -length score in the 1 1/8 -mile race denied Sightseek her fifth straight victory. Sightseek finished fourth at odds of 3-5.
"She just really didn't have anything to offer today," said Jerry Bailey, Sightseek's jockey.