Hightail wins Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint
ARCADIA, California (AFP) –
Hightail opened the Breeders’ Cup championships with an upset on Friday, winning the $500,000 six-furlong Juvenile Sprint.
The 15-1 shot gave trainer D. Wayne Lukas a 19th Breeders’ Cup winner — 10 more than the next most-winning trainer in the history of the championships, which this year feature 15 races over two days worth a total of $25 million.
Jockey Rajiv Maragh brought Hightail through on the inside in the final stretch to seize the victory by a nose ahead of Merit Man, who broke well and led under Patrick Valenzuela as the two-year-olds turned for home on Santa Anita’s dirt track.
The result stood up after a stewards’ inquiry into potential interference between the front two.
“My horse broke really sharp and he was up close,” Maragh said. “A speed duel developed in front of him. It worked out good for me to stay on the rail.
“I had to wait a moment to see what Patrick Valenzuela was going to do with his horse and he stepped off the rail slightly which gave me the chance to go up the rail.”
Maragh insisted that whatever contact there was between Hightail and Merit Man was caused by Valenzuela’s mount.
“He came in and initiated the contact with my horse,” he said. “I just tried to stay straight and ride hard to the finish.”
Lukas said he thought the stewards made the right decision.
“I don’t think the inquiry in the stretch run, after watching the replay three or four times, had any bearing on the race,” Lukas said. “I don’t blame the connections for trying to file an objection, that’s what they’re supposed to do, but I think the best horse won.”
Sweet Shirley Mae was third in a field reduced to five runners.
Super Ninety Nine, one of the pre-race favorites trained by Bob Baffert, was scratched Friday morning after suffering minor abrasions when becoming cast in his stall. South Floyd, trained by Doug O’Neill, was scratched at the gate because of slight lameness affecting a front leg.