Bill Mott and Kent Desormeaux were inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame because of their respective skills in training and riding thoroughbred racehorses. All of that skill was on display Friday evening on the first day of the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, as the pair teamed up to win the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic with Unrivaled Belle under the lights at Churchill Downs.
Mott handled Unrivaled Belle, a steel gray daughter of Unbridled’s Song known for her flighty nature, patiently through a stellar campaign. The filly was first or second in all but one of her seven starts in 2010 and finally earned her first Grade I victory in the Ladies Classic after twice placing at that level this year. She pushed her career earnings to over $1.7 million with Friday’s victory.
Desormeaux settled Unrivaled Belle just off leader Malibu Prayer’s tepid pace. In a race that featured several fillies and mares who wanted to occupy the same stalking spot, he kept the filly in the clear down the backstretch, then called on her for run around the far turn. The filly sprinted to the lead, putting some distance between herself and her rivals, and had enough left in reserve to hold off closing favorite Blind Luck.
Mott gave credit for the win to Desormeaux.
“I think it was the way Kent rode her today, the break and the way she settled,” he said postrace. “She made an explosive move around the turn leaving the three-eighths pole and just took the lead away from everybody. I just have to give Kent the credit. He pulled the trigger and it worked out. We opened up on the field and left them in her dust.”
Mott, best known for his handling of 2002 Hall of Fame inductee Cigar, earned the Eclipse Award as the national’s outstanding trainer in 1995 and 1996, the years he guided Cigar to Horse of the Year titles. This was his sixth Breeders’ Cup win – in addition to the 1995 Classic with Cigar, he won the Turf in 1987 with Theatrical and 1992 with Fraise. He had won the Ladies Classic twice previously when it was known as the Distaff – in 1997 with Ajina and 1998 with Escena.
Desormeaux, winner of the Eclipse Award as leading jockey in 1989 and 1992, was earning his fourth Breeders’ Cup win. He won the Turf in 1993 aboard Kotashaan, the Sprint in 1995 aboard Desert Stormer and the inaugural Dirt Mile in 2007 aboard Corinthian.
Earlier in the day, 2008 Hall of Fame inductee Edgar Prado guided Shared Account to an upset victory over defending champion Midday in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
Still fifth in a tight pack in midstretch, Prado found a seam and urged Shared Account to split horses. They confronted Midday in deep stretch and dueled to the wire to prevail by a neck, with Keertana just another neck back in third.
“It worked out like we planned,” Prado said. “I tried to get the filly nice and relaxed in the first part of the race. She broke so good and I dove right to the rail. I was able to cover her up. I was very happy where I was. I was hoping the hole would stay open until I got there and luckily the filly was running pretty good. Once she saw the clear, she kept grinding. I think she really wanted to win today. I knew who was next to me, but I figured as long as I kept my head in front I was really happy.”