It was fitting that Charlie Whittingham would win the richest Breeders' Cup race in a photo finish. Earlier Saturday at Hollywood Park, Whittingham blamed some photographers for not winning a race.
After Jeanne Jones, who was making only her third career start, was nosed out by longshot Epitome in the $1-million Juvenile Fillies, Whittingham tugged at owner-breeder John Mabee's elbow and led him toward the center of the track.
"Look out there," Whittingham said to Mabee. "All those cameras and people. This is a green horse, and she shied when she saw those cameras. This is a horse race, and they've got all those cameras down there."
Starting about 50 yards from the finish line, just barely under the inner rail, was a collection of cameras and equipment belonging to about 40 photographers.
Bill Shoemaker, who rode Jeanne Jones, said that his filly changed from the right to the left lead foot at about the sixteenth pole. Epitome, giving Pat Day his first of two Breeders' Cup wins, came from next to last and made up six lengths in the stretch.
"She pinned her ears, switched leads, planted her feet and tried to pull herself up," Shoemaker said. "She would have won otherwise. She just stuck her toes in the ground and eased up."
Day now has four Breeders' Cup wins, one more than Laffit Pincay, who had a second and two thirds from seven mounts Saturday.
"Shoe's horse kind of ducked at the sixteenth pole," Day said. "I saw her change leads. That was the pivotal point of the race."
Epitome, who had only broken her maiden five weeks ago at Keeneland, provided a sweet end to what had been a bitter year for Phil Hauswald, who at 28 becomes the youngest trainer to ever win a Breeders' Cup race.
Hauswald started Demons Begone, the favorite, in this year's Kentucky Derby, and the colt bled from the nose and didn't finish the race. Demons Begone, who started only once after the Derby, is back in training and will run next year as a 4-year-old.
Hauswald thought it was overreaching, bringing Epitome to the Breeders' Cup. Instead, he wanted to run her at Churchill Downs. But both her owner, John A. Bell III, and Day thought she had a chance.
"This takes out some of the sting from the Derby," said Day, who rode Demons Begone in the Derby.
A review of the other Breeders' Cup races:
Tejano was the 2-1 favorite, but he ran third and stablemate Success Express beat Regal Classic by 1 3/4 lengths as Wayne Lukas won this stake for the second straight year.
Success Express, ridden by Jose Santos, paid $10.20 to win. Tejano was third, 3 1/2 lengths behind Success Express.
Success Express won his fourth race in seven starts and gave Gene Klein his fifth Breeders' Cup win as an owner. Klein bought Success Express as a yearling for $150,000.
Even before the Juvenile, Klein was in a happy mood. Asked how he named Contempt, who finished 10th in the Juvenile, the former owner of the San Diego Chargers said:
"It might have had something to do with Al Davis, you figure it out."
Klein, suffering a heart attack while testifying during the antitrust trial over the Raiders' move from Oakland to Los Angeles, sued Davis, the Raiders' managing partner, and was awarded a judgment of about $2 million.
Success Express, who left Lukas' barn in California so that he wouldn't have to run against Tejano, won three straight races in the East before returning to Santa Anita and running fourth in the Norfolk Stakes three weeks ago.
"The Norfolk was on a sloppy track and he wasn't sure of himself," Lukas said.
Tejano appeared to be sweating heavily before Saturday's race.
"It wasn't that bad," Lukas said. "We sometimes sponge horses down in the paddock, to cool them off. But of course, you can't call the press box and tell them."
Lukas' first win Saturday came when Sacahuista led all the way for a 2-length victory over stablemate Clabber Girl.
Infinidad, the 7-10 favorite, was last in the six-horse field after three-quarters of a mile and wound up fourth.
Sacahuista, paying $7.80 under Randy Romero, had won only one of eight starts this year, but actually finished first and was disqualified in two straight races in September. The 3-year-old filly prepped for the Breeders' Cup by winning the Spinster at Keeneland on Oct. 31, so Saturday was the fourth straight time she finished first.
Sacahuista has had trouble changing lead feet in the stretch and Lukas said that some of her jockeys couldn't adjust to the dip she made when she did change leads.
Although Personal Ensign was the favorite for the 3-year-old filly championship before Saturday, she didn't run in the Breeders' Cup and now Lukas feels that Sacahuista deserves consideration. Very Subtle, another 3-year-old filly, won the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
The theory about shipping a horse from Europe to the Breeders' Cup was exploded. The consensus seemed to be that going very early or at the last minute was better for horses. However, Miesque won by 3 1/2 lengths after arriving at Hollywood at Hollywood Park a week ago.