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ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 4, 2016) – Shadwell Stables’ Tamarkuz ($25.80) rolled past Gun Runner in midstretch and drew off to win the 10th running of the $1 million Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) for 3-year-olds and up by 3 1/2 lengths Friday afternoon at Santa Anita Park.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and ridden by Mike Smith, Tamarkuz covered the mile on a fast track in 1:35.72. For Smith, the winningest rider in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, it was his 23rd victory and first in the Dirt Mile.
For Shadwell and McLaughlin, it was their third Breeders’ Cup victory as a team, with other triumphs coming in the 2006 Classic at Churchill Downs with Invasor and the 2007 Filly & Mare Turf at Monmouth Park with Lahudood.
Gun Runner finished a neck in from of Accelerate, who rallied for third to finish a half-length in front of odds-on favorite Dortmund.
Winning Jockey Mike Smith (Tamarkuz) – “I had really a good trip. It set up. There was a lot of pace. Tamarkuz has speed himself and right away they opened 2, 3, 4 (lengths), so I knew they were going fast. After that it was just a matter of getting him into a comfortable rhythm and a happy place. When I called on him, he finished like he’s been finishing for me. I really thought he had a good shot today.”
Winning Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin (Tamarkuz) – “This feels great. This finally gets the monkey off my back with my first Breeders’ Cup winner (since 2007). I’m not really surprised, though. I really thought he had a chance. Mike really rode a great race. When they were turning for home is when I thought we had a real good chance to win. What a feeling.”
Second-Place Jockey Florent Geroux (Gun Runner) – “I had a beautiful trip. My horse ran good. He just got run down by the winner.”
Second-Place Trainer Steve Asmussen (Gun Runner) – “I’m very fortunate to have him. He’s a tremendous physical specimen. (Assistant trainer) Scott (Blasi) and the whole team have done a great job keeping him where he’s at. I think we got in a hurry with him today, but he put Dortmund away and tackled the fast horse early and paid the price for it, but we didn’t come out here to give it away. We’re dreamers in this game and we were working him last summer thinking we would maybe win the (Kentucky) Derby with him this year. He’s just a tremendously talented horse. I think it’s a situation where you’re disappointed you didn’t win and you’re proud of the horse. People don’t realize how much pressure goes on him before the Derby and now he’s still out here and he’s taking it and still showing up. I love him.”
Third-Place Jockey Tyler Baze (Accelerate) – “I wanted to be sitting kind of third, fourth on the outside, but I ended having a beautiful inside trip. It got a little tight down the lane, but I was able to get through there past Dortmund at the end. All this was new to him, getting dirt on his face. I was expecting him to run big and he did.”
Fourth-Place Jockey Martin Garcia (Dortmund, beaten favorite) – “Today was just not his day. He wasn’t going that fast, but I had to move a little earlier than I wanted to. He broke well, but the horse outside of me was pushing me.”
Fourth-Place trainer Bob Baffert (Dortmund, beaten favorite) – “We were hoping to go to the front and didn’t, but got into a good position. It was a pretty hot pace. He looked great down the backside. When I saw the fractions, I got a little worried. The track is demanding today. He just didn’t bring it like he has before.”
Breeders’ Cup and Santa Anita Park
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