Oisin Murphy registered his first Breeders’ Cup winner as Japanese mare Marche Lorraine prevailed in a thrilling finish to the Distaff at Del Mar.
Having created history just a few hours earlier with Loves Only You in the Filly & Mare Turf, trainer Yoshito Yahagi doubled his and Japan’s tally at the meeting as Britain’s three-times champion jockey just got up by the tightest of margins.
With the local favourites all chasing a red-hot early tempo and fading even before the home turn, it was Dunbar Road and Marche Lorraine who fought out the finish.
As the pair crossed the line, a dead heat looked a real possibility but Murphy was overjoyed to learn his mount had edged it at the line.
“I wasn’t sure (if I’d won), it was very hard to tell in the shadows at this time of day,” said Murphy.
“This is a dream come true for me personally to win at the Breeders’ Cup, on dirt, on a Japanese horse. It’s the biggest stage in the world.
“Honestly did I think I could win? No, I didn’t, but Mr Yahagi has now had two winners today, Loves Only You and this one. That’s an unbelievable training performance.
“I try hard to get on the best horses I can around the world, I’m only 26 and these are the opportunities I crave.”
He added: “I didn’t know a whole lot about this filly. I rode a lot for Mr Yahagi in Japan, Dubai and Hong Kong and I tried to give her every chance.
“I sat out the back and was a hostage to fortune. I had enough speed to get a pitch. Maybe I moved a bit too early, but she was tough up the straight.”
Life Is Good posted an impressive all-the-way success in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
An early favourite for the Kentucky Derby before injury struck, he seized the initiative under Irad Ortiz, who was already on a high having won the Turf Sprint on Golden Pal, and the result was never in doubt.
Life Is Good ran out a near six-length winner and his trainer Todd Pletcher said: “We were anticipating an outstanding performance and it was extremely impressive. He’s one of those rare horses that can breeze and gallop at high speeds and then go faster.
“When you train a horse as good as this, you feel you are sitting on a big day.
“He has the ability to handle two turns going as straight as an arrow. I think our job now is to try to teach him how to ration out that speed and then learn to relax.”
Hot favourite Gamine could finish only third behind Ce Ce in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
Winner of the race 12 months ago, Gamine had gone unbeaten leading into the race this season but she was not allowed to dictate matters this time and had nothing left to give as Ce Ce came with a late rattle under Victor Espinoza to provide trainer Michael McCarthy with a second Breeders’ Cup win.
McCarthy said: “It was almost too good to be true the way the pace stacked up and Victor has done a really great job keeping her away from those two fillies.
“When she got the heads up in the stretch and reached the quarter-pole I certainly got excited, and at the eighth it was over.”
Aloha West was another to get the best of a photo as he came from the clouds to give Jose Ortiz a second Breeders’ Cup winner of the weekend in the Sprint.
Dr Schivel appeared to have them all beaten with 100 yards to run but Aloha West, representing the same Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners who won the Queen Mary with Quick Suzy, got up in the final strides for Wayne Catalano.
Owner Aaron Wellman said: “Wayne has done such a fantastic job. He told me two months ago when he was second in the Phoenix that he would win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
“Wayne rode 3,000 winners as a jockey and has trained 2,000 and is for me a worthy Hall Of Famer.
“There’s no telling how good this horse could be.”