As a second generation horseman, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. dreamed of winning big races and on Saturday those dreams came true when he saddled Saint Liam to win the $4,291,500 Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
"To be in this kind of position is just something you dream of," Dutrow said Sunday during the annual breakfast that honors winners of Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships races. "And that's what I've been doing a lot of (lately)."
A hoarse Dutrow, who said he lost his voice screaming once Silent Train became his first Breeders' Cup winner by taking the TVG Sprint (gr. I) earlier on Saturday's race card at Belmont Park, was one of two trainers of Saturday races attending the breakfast. Dutrow, accompanied by his family at the breakfast, said the Classic was the goal all season for Saint Liam, who did not contest the race in 2004.
"When we skipped this race last year...this was the only thing on our minds for the whole year. We just wanted him to be Horse of the Year and win a big race like this. It doesn't always happen like that."
Of Silver Train, Dutrow said he thought one key to the Sprint victory was the Old Trieste colt's affinity for Belmont Park and Aqueduct, where Dutrow is based. "If this race would have been run at a another track, I probably would have thought about not running. Since he really likes this track and the Sprint was here, we did it. He trains at Aqueduct. He really likes that track too."
Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who won his fifth Classic with Saint Liam, declined to say whether this would be his last Breeders' Cup. Asked by New York Racing Association announcer and breakfast emcee Tom Durkin whether he would be back next year, Bailey was non-committal on plans for retirement.
"If it is my last one, it is a great way to go out," Bailey, 48, said. "I will finish up at Thanksgiving, take a month off and figure it out."
The other Cup-winning trainer on hand Sunday morning was Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, who saddled Pleasant Home to win the Emirates Airline Distaff (gr. I) at 30-1 odds.
McGaughey, who has won the Distaff three times, said he thought the daughter Seeking the Gold
had a chance to win the race over defending Distaff and filly champion Ashado, but not by Saturday's margin of 9 1/4 lengths. "I didn't think she should have been 30-1," McGaughey said. "I knew we were a longshot, but a longshot with a chance. She got here the right way...and she stepped up on the right day. I was thinking maybe we could get up and beat Ashado by a head or something."
Jockey Garrett Gomez, who was honored at the breakfast with the Bill Shoemaker Award after winning two races Saturday, said he believes Bessemer Trust Juvenile (gr. I) winner Stevie Wonderboy has the potential to win next year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
"That's quite a ways down the road and we've got a long road to the Derby," said Gomez, who rode the son of Stephen Got Even
to a 1 1/4-length triumph over Henny Hughes. "I think he has the capability to do it...the farther the better.. I don't think distance is going to be a problem."
Peter Hutton, assistant to trainer D. Wayne Lukas, said VO5 Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winner Folklore will winter in California and be pointed toward the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
Breeders' Cup president D. G. Van Clief complimented the New York Racing Association for its efforts in making the Cup a success, noting that purses of $15,755,000 and total (preliminary) handle of $122,166,154 for the day were Breeders' Cup records.
Considering Saturday's weather in New York, Van Clief said the attendance of 54,289 exceeded expectations. "Given the cool weather, 50,000 would have been a very good crowd," Van Clief said. "We had 54,289, which was terrific and a Breeders' Cup record at Belmont. Overall it was a tremendous day for us; we have a great partnership with the New York Racing Association," Van Clief said. "It was a wonderful day by a lot of horsemen, a lot of riders...who brought the best (horses) in the world to us here."
Alluding to the widely publicized financial problems of the racing association, NYRA president Charles Hayward complimented the racetrack's staff. "As you know we have had a few people nipping at our heels from time to time, and this organization does not let that get us down. We are still excited about racing. It was truly great day. It was an outstanding day of racing."