Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships day got started just a few minutes past noon Saturday with one of two undercard races, the $281,500 Emirates Airline Sport Page (gr. III).
The Emirates Airline Discovery (gr. III) is the second race on the card and then the eight Breeders' Cup races start.
It is a cold overcast day in New York, with the temperature at first post in the low 40s. A high of 50 is called for but, with the sun not shining, it is a day for overcoats at Belmont.
The first race featured an exciting finish, with Gotaghostofachance splitting horses late under Jon Court to get the win. The 4-year-old gray Silver Ghost
gelding was flying when he went past early leader Voodoo and then split Captain Squire and Wild Tale to take the $250,000 stakes by a half-length.
"We had make some alterations but we got a clear run," said the journeyman Court, who won his first stakes race in New York. "I wasn't wanting to let the speed get away from us. I knew I he could make up ground when he got clear, and once we got outside of Captain Squire, he really rallied."
Owned by Ross McLeod and Charles Ming and trained by Roger Stein, Gotaghostofachance was making just his third start this year. He finished second in the Pat O'Brien Handicap (gr. II) in August and then came back Oct. 8 to run fourth, beaten just 1 ½ lengths in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup (gr. I). He left Southern California for the Sport Page and notched his second stakes win, the other also coming on the East Coast. He won the Lamplighter at Monmouth last August. The victory was worth $168,900, pushing his career earnings to $341,850 with a lifetime record of 5-2-1 in 11 starts.
"He was bought last year to run in the British Columbia Derby in Vancouver," said Raj Mutti, who represented McLeod and Stein Saturday. "But he got injured in the race so we turned him out for the winter and sent him to Roger in Southern California, and he's a totally changed horse."
Gotaghostofachance ran the seven furlongs in 1:23.16 after Voodoo had bounded to the lead out of the gate and cut fractions of :22.48, :44.63; and 1:09.77. The winner paid $12.20, $5.60, and $4.10 while Ancient Title winner Captain Squire returned $5.20 and $4.20. Wild Tale, ridden by Mark Guidry, paid $7.70.
"He broke a step slow, but besides that, he had a real good trip," said Alex Solis, who rode Captain Squire, the 3-1 second choice. "He ran hard."
Silver Wagon, the 2-1 favorite with Edgar Prado in the irons, ran fourth after encountering traffic problems in the stretch, followed by Value Plus, Voodoo, Joey P., Hasty Kris and Brand Name.
On a track that had been favoring speed throughout the week, it was very fair during the first race.
The turf is listed as good.