In dramatic fashion, a juvenile from Europe beat the best American 2-year-old on the wire in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Vale of York stuck his neck out ahead of Lookin At Lucky to take the $2-million race (VIDEO).
Vale of York, ridden by Ahmed Ajtebi, had a perfect trip while Lookin at Lucky, under Garrett Gomez, broke from the outside in the 13-horse field and was wide the entire way.
Piscitelli made the lead out of the gate and was joined by D' Funnybone , with Ajtebi settling Vale of York in third. Gomez took Lookin at Lucky, the 2-1 favorite, off the pace because of the wide trip but he was always traveling well.
The field ran a quarter-mile in :24.26 and a half in :48.78. On the turn for home, Noble's Promise and Willie Martinez, who had been sitting in fourth, moved up and took the lead when the field straightened down the lane.
Noble’s Promise appeared to have enough left in the tank to win, but then Vale of York and Lookin at Lucky came running while Piscitelli was also not ready to give up the challenge.
Just when it looked like Lookin at Lucky would get by, Vale of York dug in and gutted out the win.
"No difficulties today. I had a very good trip," Ajtebi said. "The last time I rode this horse (in the Gran Criterium) about three weeks ago in Italy he was very unlucky. We were going to win, and he saw the crowd and he stopped himself. By the time I got him going, we got beat. He was unlucky to lose the time before that also. Today it all went well. When I shifted him out, he just went and he was strong enough at the finish to get it done."
"My horse was running but he wasn't ‘running running’ until that horse came up inside of him. As soon as another horse came up inside of him, me and (the winner) took off together," Gomez said. "Today my horse got banged around pretty hard a couple of times going into the first turn because there were a couple horses going into the turn on the inside that came out. It turned him a little sideways, but he took all that. For a young horse to keep on doing what he did — and when that horse came to him and he could fight with something, accelerate and show me that much more — makes me really excited about next year."
"Just a half a length away from history," Martinez said. "We had a great trip. I kind of placed him where he wanted to be. I tried to be as patient as I could be. We just got run down. I’m very proud of my horse. He’s going to be a real nice 3-year-old."
After six furlongs in 1:13.02, and a mile in 1:37.26, the final time for the 8 1/2 furlongs was 1:43.48.
Vale of York, who was beaten a neck in his previous start, the Gran Criterium (Ity-I), is owned by Godolphin and trained by Saeed by Suroor. The 2-year-old colt is by Invincible Spirit out of the Halling mare Red Vale. He was bred in Ireland by Stock Vale.
Vale of York paid $63.20, $24.40, and $12.40 while Lookin at Lucky returned $4.40 and $3. Noble’s Promise paid $4.60 to show.
Invincible Spirit, a son of Green Desert, stands at the Irish National Stud. He set a record with his first crop in 2006 when they came out running with 35 winners in that first group. His fee this year was 45,000 euros.
Pedigree: Vale of York went through the 2008 Tattersalls November sale, where he was consigned by Bellewstown Farm Stud, agent. He was purchased by Five Star Bloodstock for $35,909. At this year’s Tattersalls auction of 2-year-olds in training, Vale of York was consigned by Clenagh Castle Stud, agent, and was listed as an RNA at $102,307. She is leased by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin.
Another entity associated with Sheikh Mohammed, Rabbah Bloodstock, purchased Vale of York’s half-brother by Elusive City at the recent Tattersalls October yearling sale for $100,447. Red Vale was barren this year after being bred to Elusive City.
The female family had a history at Santa Anita because Red Vale’s half-sister, Uraib, won the 2005 Buena Vista Handicap (gr. II) at the track.