49-year-old Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza hasn’t been to the top of the Breeders’ Cup for a long time, since he won the Classic with the triple crown American Pharaoh in 2015. from almost 500 per year to just over 100.
But the only mistake he made on Saturday, winning the $ 1 million Filly and Mare Sprint while aboard Ce Ce, came when he got off the lift at a post-race press conference. Sorry for the look on his face, but he made a bad move. Espinoza nearly fell to the ground, but he recovered, beaming with the trademark smile that marked his nearly three decade career.
Ce Ce, riding for Mike McCarthy, had one of the biggest disappointments of the day by beating Gamin, last year’s winner of this seven furlong race. Ce Ce rose from fourth place in the field with five horses to win by 2½ the length. She paid $ 14.40 to win.
Espinoza was at the Breeders’ Cup to ride three horses that turned into two when the express train struck out of the Classic. The astronaut finished 12 of 14 on the turf.
“Yes, my career went up and down,” Espinoza said. “However, I was downstairs and never gave up. And sometimes you hit the ground, but no matter how hard you hit it, when you get up, you get up big. And now I feel great, this is really special, because the last Breeders’ Cup [win] was an American pharaoh. Meanwhile, I had a minor accident and much more. “
The accident happened in July 2018 when Bobby Abu Dhabi broke down while training, sending Espinoza into the mud, where he was temporarily paralyzed. After extensive rehabilitation, he returned to skating six months later.
“I don’t think about what happened in the past, the past is in the past,” said Espinoza. “I look to the future to see how far my body will propel me. … I cannot say if I am better than before, or as good as before [the accident]… When I win a Breeders’ Cup race it is incredibly exciting because I do it for those who have supported me during my downtime. Loyalty pays off in the long run. ”
Espinoza was referring to coaches John Shirreffs and McCarthy.
“John Shirreffs is super, super loyal to me since I moved to California. [in the early 1990s]- said Espinoza. “We’ve been successful in good times and bad. … And also Mike McCarthy. He is one of the best and best trainers, and he really cares about his horses and that’s why his horses are running after him. “
Xie Xie’s victory was not the only race in which the favorite lost. In the $ 2 million sprint, Aloha West (24.60 wins) ran past Jackie Warrior and caught Dr. Shivel by the nose to win the seven furlong race.
“He gave me a great opportunity, but I didn’t know if I would get to it,” said winning jockey Jose Ortiz. “He put his head right into the wire. I was about 60% sure that I won. “
“Life Is Good” ($ 3.40) was arguably the most dominant, winning the $ 1 million Dirt Mile in a 5¾ race run by Irad Ortiz Jr. The three-year-old missed the Kentucky Derby circuit when he was injured earlier in the year. and won five of six starts.
“We hoped so [performance] depending on how he trained, ”said winning coach Todd Pletcher. “He brought it to them. Too many horses.
Marche Lorraine ($ 101.80) became the second Japanese horse to win on Saturday due to a mishap with a $ 2 million spinning wheel. Another Japanese importer to win was Loves Only You ($ 10.60), who borrowed $ 2 million from Filly and Mare Turf.
“I tried to ignore her chances and give her every chance on the run and hope she could finish off,” said winning jockey Oisin Murphy. “And, frankly, we were clearly hostages of fortune. I sat down and they went pretty quickly. So we needed them to do it, but it was a brilliant performance. “
Other winners were Golden Pal ($ 7) at $ 1 million Turf Sprint, Space Blues ($ 6.20) at $ 2 million (Turf) Mile and Yibir ($ 19) at $ 4 million Turf.