(from Belmont Park report)
Skeedattle Stable's Mr O'Brien found his closing kick again after four straight losing races, taking Saturday's $270,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) at a mile on the Belmont Park Widener turf course.
With jockey Eibar Coa aboard, the Irish-bred Mr O'Brien drew off to a 1 ½-length victory over Millennium Dragon in an excellent time of 1:32 3/5.
"Now that he has learned to relax and kick at the end, he can run any distance from a mile to two miles," said trainer Robin Graham of the 5-year-old gelded son of Mukaddamah. "He's had some traffic problems in his other races this year, but not today."
Of Mr O'Brien's immediate future, Graham said, "We would have to supplement him to the Breeders' Cup (Mile) and that is an awful of money. There are a lot of grass races around."
Mr O'Brien found traffic problems in his recent races. But here he saved ground early as the fractions fell in :23 2/5; :46; and 1:09 1/5, with Christine's Outlaw and favored Stroll battling on the lead. Mr O'Brien was swung wide for his run home.
"I watched this horse's last five races," Coa said. "He seems like he always has enough to win, but he is always in trouble. My main thing was to keep him out of trouble, even if he got beat, I didn't want that guilt on me. I always had him in position to win. He gave me enough to win the races."
He returned $11.80, $5.70 and $4.70 for his eighth win in 21 starts. He was the third choice in the field of eight.
The winner's share of $150,000 pushed Mr O'Brien's career earnings to $673,290.
Millennium Dragon ($7.10, $4.60) pushed his winless streak to seven, but did not disappoint trainer Kiaran McLaughlin after nosing Gulch Approval for third.
"He's a little unlucky, but I would like to have a barnful like him," McLaughlin said. "He'll get there. The winner was just very good. We were happy to be second."
Stroll, the 2-1 favorite, nosed out second choice King of Happiness for fourth.
"He was keen, but he as a tendency to be that way," said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott of Stroll. "That's his nature, I guess. He had a lot of daylight in front of him."
Completing the order of finish were Willard Straight, Proud Man and Christine's Outlaw.