BREEDERS' CUP MARATHON | PURSE: $500,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 3/4 MILES
British raider London Bridge won the 2013 Breeders' Cup World Championships opener, mowing down the weakening leaders in the final sixteenth of a mile to take the $500,000 Marathon Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park.
The 3-year-old son of Arch was ridden to a one-length victory by Mike Smith, the Hall of Fame rider who won his all-time best 18th Breeders' Cup event.
London Bridge, sent off at odds of 9-1, is owned by Waratah Thoroughbeds and is trained by Jo Hughes. The bay colt was bred in New York by Patricia S. Purdy.
Blueskiesnrainbows, who had fought off Worldly and Suns Out Guns Out to get the lead from the inside at mid-stretch, was second, with Worldly third. The final time for the 1 ¾-mile distance on a fast track was 2:58.32.
The victory was the first in a group or graded stakes for London Bridge, who has won four of nine races in his career.
London Bridge was sold pior to the race by Eastwind Racing and Martha Trussel, said Mikael Magnusson, assistant trainer to Hughes.
"This is absolutely fantastic," Magnusson said. "It's been our plan all along. We sold the horse prior to this race and he will now go and race in Australia."
Smith had London Bridge, who raced with a cheek piece, held up near the back of the pack for the opening mile before advancing into into fifth on the outside at the quarte pole. Commander set the early pace, getting the opening mile in 1:37.62 before being overtaken by Suns Out Guns Out approaching the half mile pole.
Suns Out Guns Out raced as a team with Worldly on the outside and Blueskiesnrainbows at the rail before Blueskiesnrainbows, ridden by Martin Pedroza, forged a narrow lead after completing 1 ½ miles in 2:29.62. Blueskiesnrainbows edged away from Worldly, with David Flores aboard, and Suns Out Guns Out but all three leaders were visibly weakening in the stretch.
But London Bridge, still fifth at mid-strech after winding up his bid six wide coming off the final turn, motored home in the final furlong under constant left-handed urging from Smith to grind out the victory.
"He just had to work really hard," Smith said. "He was never really sure of the dirt. The change in his shoes made a big difference, but even with that he was never really confident. I had to keep riding him at times, taking a hold of him, riding him, trying get him confident, but keep moving all at the same time.
"I felt if I kept chasing them, he'd lose confidence. So I did a little of both and he outlasted them, because really, if it was on grass, it would have been a much better victory."
Blueskiesnrainbows held second by a neck over Worldly, who finished 1 ¼ lengths better than Suns Out Guns Out. Then came Indian Jones,Old Time Hockey,Pool Play, Commander, and Cease. Argentine-based Ever Rider, a slight 9-2 favorite in the field of 10, was pulled up on the far turn and was walked off the course.
London Bridge, who came into the Marathon with $32,969 in career earnings, banked $275,000 for the victory. The bay colt out of the Indian Ridge mare Kindness was coming off a fourth-place finish Aug. 15 in a minor stakes at Deuville going 1 ⅞ miles.
The only 3-year-old in the field, London Bridge received a four-pound weight allowance while carrying 122. He paid $20, $10.20, and $6.40 and keyed a $192.40 exacta. Blueskiesnrainbow returned $9 and $6.20, while Worldly paid $4.80.