It's Saint Liam's day

Bailey captures his fifth Breeders' Cup Classic aboard favorite

Horse racing


ELMONT, N.Y. -- Time was running out for jockey Jerry Bailey.

After failing to win aboard six of his previous mounts at Belmont Park in the $14 million Breeders' Cup yesterday, Bailey had one last shot, aboard the favored Saint Liam in the $4 million Classic, to go out a winner.

The colt was racing in a field of 13 and breaking from the No. 13 post - not good omens - but, as he has throughout his Hall of Fame career and as in four previous Classics, Bailey came through.

"I had been there before," said Bailey, referring to Breeders' Cup programs in which he didn't win a race until the Classic. "Arcangues pulled me out [in 1993], Cigar pulled me out [in 1995], and thank God for Saint Liam."

Making a strong case for himself as Horse of the Year, Saint Liam overcame the outside post to win the Classic by a length over a game Travers Stakes winner Flower Alley. It was an additional 1 1/2 lengths back to Perfect Drift in third.

Saint Liam, a 5-year-old who began his year Feb. 5 at Gulfstream Park by winning the Donn Handicap, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2 minutes, 1.49 seconds in his last career start and before an announced crowd of 54,289.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who also saddled Silver Train to an upset victory over previously undefeated Lost in the Fog in the $1 million Sprint, was ecstatic after watching his horse win his fourth Grade I race of the year.

When asked whether Saint Liam should be named Horse of the Year over Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex, recuperating from an injury and unable to race here yesterday, Dutrow replied:

"We have the best horse around. Anyone left standing, we beat them. Throughout the year, Saint Liam has won everywhere. We didn't duck any horse. When Saint Liam runs his race, I don't think anyone can beat him."

Borrego, an impressive winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup Oct. 1, was never a factor under Garrett Gomez and finished 10th.

"I moved him out at the top of the stretch," Gomez said. "He gave me a 50-yard run and then flattened out."

For Saint Liam, named after owner William Warren's father, who dropped out of high school to help his family, it was a flawless trip under a flawless ride.

Breaking from the No. 13 post, Saint Liam broke toward the outside leaving the gate and Bailey acknowledged, "I was losing more ground the first 50 or 60 yards out of the gate."

But Bailey was patient. He guided the 5-year-old toward the middle of the track while Sun King was pressed by Suave to fractions of 23.98, 47.68 and 1:12.23, and with Flower Alley two lengths behind in third.

As Saint Liam cruised down the backstretch in fifth, Bailey was feeling optimistic. "I really felt confident the moment I turned up the backside," he said. "I was actually pretty confident all the way around."

Bailey demonstrated that confidence by drawing Saint Liam alongside Flower Alley entering the stretch and then drew away.

The 48-year-old jockey will compete through Thanksgiving before returning to South Florida to decide whether to continue riding or retire.

"If this is my last Breeders' Cup race," Bailey said, "it's a great way to go out."

Earlier, in the Distaff, the Shug McGaughey-trained Pleasant Home beat Society Selection by 9 1/4 lengths and returned $63.50 for the win, the highest-ever payoff in the 1 1/8 -mile race.

In the $2.28 million Turf, Shirroco made his first win of the year a big one, taking the race by 1 3/4 lengths over Ace. The 4-year-old colt bred in Germany took the lead after pacesetter Shake the Bank dropped back around the final turn in the 1 1/4 -mile race. Maryland-trained Better Talk Now finished fourth.

In the $1.6 million Juvenile, Stevie Wonderboy put owner and TV impresario Merv Griffin on the road to the Kentucky Derby beating Henny Hughes by 1 1/4 lengths with First Samurai third.

In the $1 million Juvenile Fillies, Folklore gave trainer D. Wayne Lukas his fifth win in the race with a 1 1/4 -length victory over Wild Fit. Folklore's rider, Edgar Prado, ended an 0-for-41 record in Breeders' Cup races.

Prado later rode Silver Train to victory in the Sprint.

In the Filly & Mare Turf, Intercontinental, trained by Bobby Frankel, led gate-to-wire and beat Ouija Board by 1 1/4 lengths, giving jockey Rafael Bejarano his first Breeders' Cup win.

Dave Joseph writes for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Breeders' Cup Classic Results

10th race at Belmont Park

Purse $4,680,000, 3YO 7f, 1 1/4 mi.

Horse Wt PP 1/4 1/2 3/4 Mile Str Fin Jockey To $1

Saint Liam 126 12 4-2 4-2 5- 1/2 4- 1/2 1- 1/2 1-1 Bailey 2.40

Flower Alley 122 8 3-2 1/2 3-2 4- 1/2 3- 1/2 2- 1/2 2-1 1/2 Velazquez 10.00

Perfect Drift 126 4 5-1 6- 1/2 6- 1/2 6-1 1/2 5- 1/2 3-nk Guidry 14.50

Super Frolic 126 6 10-1 7- 1/2 3-hd 5-2 4-hd 4-nk Coa 69.25

Suave 126 7 2-1 1/2 2-2 2-1 2- 1/2 3-1 1/2 5-3 1/4 Prado 16.40

Choctaw Nation 126 2 13 12- 1/2 9-hd 8-2 8-2 6-1 1/4 Espinoza 13.00

Starcraft 126 13 11-1 1/2 9- 1/2 8-2 7-2 7- 1/2 7- 1/2 Valenzuela 8.50

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