The Lady's Groom battled odds-on favorite Unforgettable Max every step of the way to win the $150,000 Jim McKay Breeders' Cup Handicap, the co-feature Saturday at Pimlico.
Under jockey Horacio Karamanos, the 4-year-old chestnut son of Runaway Groom
led and lost the lead more than once during a head bobbing duel that started from the gate and continued to the furlong pole. He surged ahead to win by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:48.23 for the nine furlongs. Unforgettable Max, the 2-5 favorite, was second and 38-1 shot Irish Colony rallied to gain the show.
"He responded very well under pressure when I asked him," Karamanos said.
Michael Gorham trains The Lady's Groom, who earned $90,000 for owner John D. Murphy Sr. The Kentucky-bred colt improved to 7-3-1 in 20 starts with earnings of $271,260.
The winner paid $13, $3.20 and $2.80 as the second choice in the field of seven. Unforgettable Max returned $2.20 and $2.20. Irish Colony's show was $3.40.
"It was a pretty good effort," said Rick Wilson, who rode Unforgettable Max. "He ran a game race."