ARCADIA, California — White Abarrio took over the lead at the top of the stretch and ran on to a one-length victory in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, propelling trainer Rick Dutrow back to the top after his 10-year exile from the sport.
He is trained by Dutrow and was ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., the top jockey by wins in the United States. For Dutrow, it was his second Classic victory (Saint Liam 2005) and a return to the limelight after a 10-year suspension that ended in May.
A celebratory Dutrow hugged anyone he could in the winner’s circle before throwing his arms around White Abarrio. He previously won the Classic in 2005 with Saint Liam.
“It feels unbelievable,” Dutrow said according to AP. “I love it.”
“It’s incredible,” Dutrow said afterward. “Incredible stuff is what I’m going through right now. We were lucky to have been given a great horse to train — I never thought he looked like anything but a winner the entire way around there today.”
White Abarrio was sent off as the 5-2 favourite and covered the 1¼ miles in a pedestrian 2 minutes, 2.87 seconds. He has been the talk of the handicap division since his romp in the $1 million Whitney Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in New York in August.
“Everything came out perfect,” said Ortiz. “We handicapped that race perfectly. I saved all the ground on the first turn and then I was able to get in the clear on the backside. After that, it all about the horse. To be honest, I just let him do his thing and I don’t get in his way.”
In the first championship event, defending champion and sentimental favorite Cody’s Wish out-finished game and front-running National Treasure, the 2023 Preakness Stakes (G1) winner, to capture the $1 million Dirt Mile.
Cody’s Wish needed a photo and survived a steward’s inquiry to repeat as champion in his final career race. The victory capped a year that saw the 5-year-old win four of his five starts, with three of them Grade 1s.
Cody’s Wish was ridden to the nose victory by Junior Alvarado and trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who captured his 14th all-time Breeders’ Cup victory.
“This is the icing on the cake,” Mott said. “You couldn’t imagine a better ending He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”
“Right when I got next to National Treasure, I know he kind of came out and tried to meet with my horse,” Alvarado said. “I just think at that point where he’s brushing my horse, I had the bigger horse and the mean horse, probably. I think my horse was feeling a little bit of a fight, and he tried to go right after the other horse.”
While fans chanted “Cody! Cody!,” the stewards studied video replays for seven minutes while the two horses were walked in circles on the track, waiting to see which one would get his picture taken in the winner’s circle.
“I knew it was nothing really to change the outcome,” Alvarado said. “My horse was already in front; he was never going to let that other horse go by again.”
Bob Baffert, who trains National Treasure, nodded his head at the finish, seemingly knowing that he had lost by the slimmest margin in horse racing.
The victory ensured a storybook ending for Cody’s Wish in his final race before retirement. He won 11 of 16 career starts, including eight in stakes races, and over $3.1 million in earnings.
Waiting in the winner’s circle during the inquiry was Cody Dorman, a teenager who has a rare genetic disorder and uses a wheelchair.
He and the horse first met during a Make-A-Wish visit to a Kentucky farm when Cody’s Wish was a foal in 2018. Cody’s Wish walked over to Dorman’s wheelchair and put his head in the boy’s lap, creating a touching bond.