LOUISVILLE, Ky. – “Battle of the Sexes” was sooooo last year.
“Battle of the Exes” is how this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic played out when Mike Smith, dressed in white to ride Drosselmeyer under the lights, appeared out of nowhere like a ghost and beat his front-running ex to the wire aboard Game On Dude.
“I saw white and I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Mike Smith. Ugh,’ ” Chantal Sutherland said.
Drosselmeyer, a 14-1 long shot, won the $5 million Classic by 11/2 lengths Saturday at Churchill Downs, capping a weekend of upsets in the season-ending championships.
A year ago, Smith walked off the track in tears after losing the same race by a head on superstar Zenyatta.
“Last year I sat here just devastated, thought my life was over,” Smith said. “Just to come back and have a day like I did today and to win the race that I got beat in last year, it’s just amazing.”
Smith and Sutherland, together on and off for six years and once engaged, broke up in 2010, but remain civil, even taking part in a “Battle of the Exes” match race at Del Mar in August to promote the sport.
Then, and now, Smith was the winner.
Smith was asked how it felt to beat Sutherland and before he could reply, winning trainer Bill Mott injected, “Hey, it felt really, really good.”
Smith said: “I turned the page a long time ago. I wish everyone else would.”
Still, Smith congratulated Sutherland as they came off the track. The exacta of exes paid $444.80.
“She should hold her head up,” he said. “She did a great job and ran second in the Classic first time ever riding in it. I think it’s incredible. I think she’s pretty proud. She should be happy.”
Drosselmeyer ran 11/4 miles in 2:04.27 and paid $31.60 to win. Ruler On Ice, this year’s Belmont Stakes winner, was third.
Filly Havre de Grace, the 4-1 second choice, finished fourth against the boys. Flat Out, the 7-2 favorite, was fifth.
So You Think, the 5-1 co-third choice with Uncle Mo, was sixth. To Honor and Serve was seventh, followed by Ice Box, Rattlesnake Bridge, Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty and Headache.
Mott swept the weekend’s top two races, winning the $2 million Ladies’ Classic with Royal Delta on Friday.
The Classic produced the final upset of a weekend full of surprises.
The biggest was by 64-1 shot Court Vision, who took down three-time winner Goldikova in the Mile in front of 65,143.
Afleet Again won at 41-1 odds in the Marathon, and 18-year-old Irishman Joseph O’Brien became the youngest jockey to win a Breeders’ Cup race, taking the Turf for his father-trainer Aidan O’Brien.
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