Irad Ortiz Jr. celebrates after riding Vino Rosso to victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic horse race at Santa Anita Park, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Arcadia, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Vino Rosso wins Breeders' Cup Classic marred by horse injury

November 02, 2019 - 9:40 pm

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Vino Rosso won the $6 million Classic at the Breeders' Cup by 4 1/4 lengths, upsetting 5-2 favorite McKinzie in a race marred by a "serious" injury to a 15-1 long shot on Saturday night.

Mongolian Groom was part of the early pace in the 1 1/4-mile race that capped the two-day world championships at Santa Anita. But jockey Abel Cedillo pulled up the 4-year-old gelding near the eighth pole as the rest of the field charged toward the finish line.

Santa Anita has been the site of 36 horse deaths since December. Track owner The Stronach Group rushed to implement changes to rules involving medication and training. The Breeders' Cup also beefed up its own pre-race exams and observations of Cup runners.

It was the only injury in the 14 Cup races.

A green screen was rushed onto the track to block Mongolian Groom from the view of 67,811 fans and a prime-time television audience. He was loaded onto an equine ambulance and taken to a hospital on the backstretch.

"We know he's injured his left hind leg," said Dr. Al Ruggles, the on-call veterinarian.

Dr. Scott Palmer, another on-call vet, described the injury as "serious."

Mongolian Groom has three wins in 16 career starts and earnings of $579,141. He was coming off a victory over McKinzie in the Awesome Again Stakes on the same track in September.

Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, Mongolian Groom is trained by Ganbat Enebish and owned by Mongolian Stable.

Winning co-owner Mike Repole called Mongolian Groom's injury "the worst part of this game."

"For us, horse safety is very, very important. Prayers for the horse. Prayers for the connections of the horse. It's got to be really, really tough. It's very sad," Repole said.

Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said he was concerned about horse safety at Santa Anita coming into the season-ending world championships.

"We were anxious, not only for running in huge races like this, but hoping everything would go smoothly and safely," he said. "Everyone took every precautionary measure they possibly could."

Vino Rosso went off at 9-2 odds for Pletcher, who won his first Classic.

"It's one thing that was missing," Pletcher said. "It feels great."

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. earned a leading fourth Cup victory of the weekend.

McKinzie, the 5-2 favorite, finished second for trainer Bob Baffert.

Higher Power was third and Elate, a 5-year-old mare taking on the boys, finished fourth.

Vino Rosso covered the distance in 2:02.80 and paid $11.20, $5.80 and $4.


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