ARCADIA (AP) — So much for settling the early Kentucky Derby picture.
Next year’s outlook is downright fuzzy after a couple of little-known colts challenged each other down the stretch before 45-1 shot Storm the Court staged a stunning neck victory in the Juvenile on opening day of the Breeders’ Cup on Friday.
Entries from five-time Derby winner Bob Baffert and Dale Romans faded.
Instead, it was Storm the Court scoring the biggest upset in the Juvenile’s 35-year history.
“I’m just so proud of this little horse,” winning trainer Peter Eurton said. “He just never stops trying. I knew he was going to fight, but I just didn’t know if there was going to be something so strong that he couldn’t fight back.”
Storm the Court owned a narrow advantage at the head of the lane when Anneau d’Or ranged up alongside him. Storm the Court never let Anneau d’Or by and gutted out the victory in front of 41,243 fans.
Now Eurton has this winter to consider the Kentucky Derby.
“That’s everybody’s dream,” he said. “It would be a whole lot of fun I’m sure.”
All of the day’s 10 races — led by five Cup races for 2-year-olds — went off safely at Santa Anita, where 36 horses have died since December.
A handful of protesters calling for the end of racing in California toted signs outside one of the track’s entrances, while industry workers championed their own cause in a gathering a short distance away.
“We’re all trying our best to make this the safest sport that we can,” Eurton said. “It’s unfortunate when any horse passes and zero tolerance is what we’re looking for.”
Dennis’ Moment, the 4-5 Juvenile favorite, stumbled out of the starting gate and trailed the field before crossing the wire last.
“It was over,” said Jason Loutsch, racing manager for Albaugh Family Stables, owner of Dennis’ Moment. “We had no chance from the start.”
Eight Rings, trained by Baffert, finished sixth.
“When they turned for home, my horse was completely out of it,” Baffert said.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Storm the Court paid $93.80 to win. He ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.93.
Racing resumes Saturday with nine Cup races, topped by the $6 million Classic airing in prime time on NBC.
Not since Vale of York won the 2009 Juvenile at 30-1 odds, paying $63.20, had there been a bigger upset in the Juvenile.
Storm the Court followed in his sire’s hoof prints.
Court Vision was a 64-1 shot when he stunned Goldikova to win the BC Mile in 2011, paying $131.60 — third-highest in Cup history.
Anneau d’Or finished second and Wrecking Crew was third.
European horses were shut out on Future Stars Friday, when five different jockeys and trainers won. Brothers Irad Ortiz Jr. and Jose Ortiz each earned victories.
Four Wheel Drive was the day’s only favorite to win, taking the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint by three-quarters of a length under Irad Ortiz Jr. Sent off at 3-2 odds, the 2-year-old colt paid $5 to win.
Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien went 0 for 5 on the day.
In other races:
— Structor won the $1 million Juvenile Turf by three-quarters of a length under Jose Ortiz for trainer Chad Brown. He paid $12.60 at 5-1 odds.
— British Idiom earned a neck victory in the $1 million Juvenile Fillies for jockey Jose Castellano and trainer Brad Cox. She paid $7.40 at 5-2 odds.
— Sharing scored a 1 1/4-length win in the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf for jockey Manny Franco and trainer Graham Motion.
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