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BREEDERS' CUP: THE OTHER RACES : The Favored 2-Year-Olds Prove Solid


ELMONT, N.Y. — Meadow Star's seventh consecutive victory was like most of the others: Easy.

The 2-year-old filly remained unbeaten Saturday with a five-length victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Belmont Park and maintained her status as one of the favorites for next year's Kentucky Derby.

Jose Santos, who rides Meadow Star, also won the other Breeders' Cup race for 2-year-olds, the Juvenile, when Fly So Free coasted home by three lengths. Fly So Free covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43 2/5, three-fifths of a second faster than Meadow Star.

"I know which horse is better in my mind, but I can't say here," Santos said.

Private Treasure finished second in the Juvenile Fillies, a length ahead of Dance Smartly. Meadow Star paid $2.40, the smallest win payoff in Breeders' Cup history.

Garden Gal, 6-1 on the morning line, was scratched from the fillies' race because of a stone bruise on her left front foot.

Fly So Free, favored off of his win in the Champagne at Belmont three weeks ago, paid $4.80 to win. Take Me Out, who has never won a stake, ran second at 33-1, beating another longshot, Lost Mountain, by two lengths. Best Pal, the second choice at 9-5, ran sixth and earned $10,000 after being supplemented into the race for a penalty of $120,000.

Best Pal broke slowly, dropped back, then moved from sixth to third place for the stretch drive but had nothing left.

"On the turn, it looked like we had a shot at the winner," said Pat Valenzuela, who rode Best Pal. "But we couldn't stay with him. It could be that he had a long summer, and he has had a lot of races in a short time."

European horses won the two Breeders' Cup grass races, and they would have also taken the Sprint if Dayjur, the 2-1 favorite, hadn't tried to jump a shadow in the last strides before the wire. The European winners were In The Wings ($5.80) in the Turf, by a half-length over With Approval, and Royal Academy ($7.60), who beat Itsallgreektome by a neck in the Mile.

Safely Kept, the 4-year-old filly who finished second in last year's Sprint, won by a neck Saturday after Dayjur had trouble with shadows for the second consecutive race. Safely Kept, ridden by Craig Perret, paid $26.40.

The victories in the turf races were especially pleasing for both jockeys. Lester Piggott, England's premier rider, will turn 55 next month and his victory aboard Royal Academy is part of a comeback that has followed time in prison for tax evasion. Gary Stevens, who rode In The Wings, had gone 22 Breeders' Cup races without a victory.

"Today was a dream come true," Piggott said. "I really decided to return to riding on the spur of the moment about two weeks ago. It looks like I did it at the right time. I hope to ride next year."

Itsallgreektome, who went off at 36-1, had the lead inside the eighth pole. "I never saw the winner until it was too late," said Corey Nakatani, who rode Itsallgreektome. "My horse gets the lead, he has a tendency to loaf around."

Steinlen, who won last year's Mile, ran fourth in probably the final race of his career. The Mile lost a contender when Distant Relative was scratched after aggravating an old leg injury.

"It was really rough out there," said Santos, who rode Steinlen. "I got stopped three different times. But the two that hurt were at the half-mile and three-eighths (poles)."

In The Wings was blocked on the far turn, but got clear to hook up with With Approval at the sixteenth pole.

"It really feels good to finally win one of these," said Stevens, who is the leader in the national money standings. "It's been a long time and this takes a big load off my shoulders."

French Glory, who ran as In The Wings' entrymate, was seventh, and Saumarez, the Arc de Triomphe winner, was in contention for three-quarters of a mile before finishing fifth.

Other jockeys told Willie Carson, Dayjur's rider, that the shadow that bothered his horse wasn't there in the races before and after the Sprint.

"So a half-hour makes the difference," Carson said. "The last time he ran, in France, he did the same thing when he was six lengths in front," Carson said. "He won that race, but all we got was a moral victory today."

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