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Vino Rosso wins Breeders’ Cup Classic scarred by fatal injury to Mongolian Groom

Breeders Cup Classic Horse Racing

Irad Ortiz Jr. aborad Vino Rosso celebrates after the Breeders’ Cup Classic horse race at Santa Anita Park, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Arcadia, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)


Vino Rosso, jockeyed by Irad Ortiz Jr. and trained by Todd Pletcher, overpowered the early favorite McKinzie down the homestretch to win the $6 million 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. Higher Power was third. Mongolian Groom was pulled up by jockey Abel Cedillo near the eighth pole and vanned off the track to vets on the grounds with what AAEP on call vet Scott Palmer called a “serious injury.” The Breeders’ Cup later announced that he sustained a fracture to his left hind limb and was humanely euthanized.

The Breeders’ Cup has since issued a statement, saying:

The death of Mongolian Groom is a loss to the entire horse racing community. Our equine and human athletes’ safety is the Breeders’ Cup’s top priority. We have worked closely with Santa Anita leading up to the World Championships to promote enhanced equine safety. Santa Anita has implemented numerous industry-leading reforms to enhance the existing health and safety measures with the intent of providing a safe racing environment. In addition, Breeders’ Cup always observes the most thorough up-to-date medication practices and restrictions, testing protocols, equine security and surveillance program, veterinary exams, injury management protocols and racing surface testing. These measures are in place to ensure our athletes are racing under the safest and most transparent conditions possible.

The Breeders’ Cup also said that vet Dr. Larry Bramlage will conduct an independent evaluation, and the results will be published when completed. Santa Anita has

Bob Baffert‘s McKinzie took over the lead after the final turn, and Vino Rosso, Italian for “red wine,” shot down the homestretch to pass McKinzie and breeze over the wire. Owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, Vino Rosso gave Pletcher his first Classic winner in 13 starts. He went off at 9/2 odds from the No. 10 spot, paying $11.20 to win, $5.80 to place and $4.00 to show.

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. was fresh off his win in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf aboard Bricks and Mortar just an hour earlier. The Classic was Ortiz Jr.'s fourth win of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, including a victory on Four Wheel Drive, the first American Pharoah baby to win a Breeders’ Cup race.

Elate, the lone mare in the field, finished 4th. This comes almost 10 years to the day after Zenyatta became the first-ever female to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

For McKinzie, the Classic was his first race without longtime jockey Mike Smith. Smith rode Yoshida instead, finishing 8th on the 5-year-old.

Full 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic results:

  1. Vino Rosso
  2. McKinzie
  3. Higher Power
  4. Elate
  5. Math Wizard
  6. Seeking the Soul
  7. Code of Honor
  8. Yoshida
  9. War of Will
  10. Owendale