Jockey Rajiv Maragh guides Hightail to a victory by a nose over Merit Man… (Frederic J. Brown / AFP /…)
It was old-timers day at the Breeders' Cup World Championships on Friday at Santa Anita.
Wayne Lukas, 77, became the oldest trainer to win a Breeders' Cup race when he sent out the 0-for-8 maiden Hightail and won the $500,000 Juvenile Sprint by a nose over Merit Man. It was Lukas' 19th Breeders' Cup victory but his first since 2005.
"At my age, it's significant," Lukas after the first victory by a previous non-winner in Breeders' Cup history. "I don't know how many there are, but I always thought we could get one more. But I still have the passion for it, and I train every day and ride every day and if they will give us something to work with, we got a chance."
As for future, Lukas said, "I'm not going to retire. I'm going to ride out there one morning, fall off the [horse], they will harrow me under and if the harrow goes over me a couple of times that will be the end of it."
In the next race, the Argentine-bred Calidoscopio, a 9-year-old, became the oldest horse to win in the 29-year history of the Breeders' Cup by going from last to first in a 14-horse field to take the $500,000 Marathon by 4 1/4 lengths over Grassy under jockey Aaron Gryder.
The horse's connections, led by trainer Guillermo Frankel, unfurled an Argentine flag during a boisterous winner's circle celebration featuring more than two dozen supporters. "I don't speak any Spanish and they don't speak any English and it came together in a nice way," Gryder said.
Gryder said he had watched DVDs of earlier Calidoscopio races to prepare him for the 1 3/4-mile race.
"After the first mile, he started getting stronger as we went along," Gryder said, "and by the time we got to the quarter pole, he was advancing so quickly I felt if he gave that same turn of foot that I had seen on the DVD he was going to be able to run 'em down."
One of USC's most loyal supporters is B. Wayne Hughes, owner of Spendthrift Farm. His 2-year-old filly, Beholder, won the $2-million Juvenile Fillies.
Hughes has been a major donor to the university and usually doesn't miss any Trojans football games. But he said he's unlikely to make Saturday's game at the Coliseum against Oregon, because his horse, Jimmy Creed, will be running right before the game in the $1.5-million Sprint.
Asked if a Breeders' Cup win is bigger than a USC victory in the Rose Bowl, Hughes said, "No. There's nothing better than a Rose Bowl victory."
Friday's on-track attendance for six Breeders' Cup races was 34,619. There will be nine Breeders' Cup races as part of a 12-race card Saturday.