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ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 5, 2016) – Seltzer Thoroughbreds’ Finest City ($19.40) fought off a late bid by defending race champion Wavell Avenue by three-quarters of a length to win the 10th running of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) Saturdayafternoon at Santa Anita Park.
Trained by Ian Kruljac and ridden by Mike Smith, Finest City covered the seven furlongs on a fast main track in 1:22.37. It is the first Breeders’ Cup victory for Kruljac and the 24thfor Smith, the all-time winningest rider in World Championships history.
For Smith, it was his second victory of these Championships and second in the Filly & Mare Sprint, having won in 2014 with Judy the Beauty.
Finest City is a 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred daughter of City Zip who was winning for the first time in six starts on the main track at Santa Anita.
Winning jockey Mike Smith (Finest City) – “I was really happy for the trainer (Ian Kruljac) and his first big opportunity. What a way for you to get your career going. The old handicapping angle of ‘turf to dirt’ and a long turf race to a middle distance sprint is really a good way to get a horse ready for a race like this. They learn to relax a little better and it’s easier on them.”
Winning trainer Ian Kruljac (Finest City) – “She sends herself out of there and Mike chose not to take her back and it was absolutely perfect. She has high cruising speed and I could tell he was in hand. It is just such an honor to compete with all these top trainers and have a top filly.”
Second-place jockey Joel Rosario (Wavell Avenue) – “She ran huge. I thought I was going to go by Mike (Smith) for a minute, but she was second best today.”
Second-place trainer Chad Brown (Wavell Avenue) – “She ran huge. She showed she’s a real Grade 1 performer and last year was no fluke. She’s a real good horse, especially in the fall. I’m proud of her effort. She was just second best.”
Third-place jockey Joe Talamo (Paulssilverlining) – “She ran a heck of a race. We were laying right with the winner (Finest City) the whole way. She had a very good clean trip and I was very glad to finish in the top three.”
Third-place trainer Michelle Nevin (Paulssilverlining) – “I expected her to run well today and she did. Joe (Talamo) told me after the race that if she hadn’t been pressed and had a chance to give her a little breather, then she would have run even better. I don’t know if she would have won. I was pleased with her performance.”
Ninth-place trainer Bill Mott (Carina Mia, favorite) – “It’s a head scratcher.”
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