Everest Stable's Night Patrol disposed of heavily-favored Congaree at the top of the stretch and prevailed in a furious stretch battle with Kachamandi to capture the $250,000 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile by a nose Saturday.
Ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., Night Patrol raced some four lengths behind pacesetting Congaree on the backstretch before moving to the 4-5 favorite on the final turn.
After chasing quick fractions of :22.53 and :45.56, the 6-year-old Storm Boot gelding was all out to hold off Kachamandi, closing from the back of the field of eight, with another longshot, Nicobar also closing quickly but coming up a little short of ground.
The final time was a fast 1:32 4/5.
"I was just biding my time," said Valdivia. "I knew Congaree was going pretty fast but I was surprised, because when I attacked him at the quarter pole, (Congaree) offered no response; he just stopped. And when my horse made the lead, he was very, very game. He saw those horses coming up to him, and he reached out and really extended himself."
Barry Abrams, trainer of Kachamandi, was disappointed.
"He should have won easy," Abrams said. "He got stuck on the turn. He had nowhere to go. The other horse (Night Patrol) had a perfect trip."
"I was a little nervous because I really liked our chances," said Night Patrol's trainer Nick Canani after the close decision went in his favor. He's a great horse and Jose (Valdivia Jr.) gave him a great ride. Mr. Nielsen (owner Jeffrey Nielsen of Everest Stables, Inc.) and myself spoke this morning and decided to let him run out of there and let him pace himself and it was the right thing. He ran super."
As far as the future, Canani said, "A lot of things look tempting. We'll have to see how he comes out of this and go from there."
Night Patrol was bred in Kentucky by Everest Stable. He snapped a three-race winning streak. The veteran has nine wins in 45 career starts and the $150,000 purse pushed his career bankroll to more than $640,000.
Congaree was making his first start on the grass for trainer Bob Baffert in hopes of advancing to the Breeders' Cup Mile.
"He was really pulling, I couldn't get him to turn off," said Mike Smith, who rod Congaree.
"He (Smith) couldn't get him to relax," said Baffert. "(But) he likes the turf. He likes it too much. I don't know about the Breeders' Cup (Mile). I'm very disappointed. I don't know (if he'll go). I can't make any calls on anything. He hasn't even cooled out yet."
Night Patrol, sent off at 9-1 in the field of eight, paid $20.20, $9 and $6.80. Kachamandi returned $10.80 and $7. Nicobar paid $7. The $2 exacta returned a healthy $196.60.