Spun to Run sped to the lead when the gates opened and never relinquished the advantage in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita, comfortably holding late-running favorite Omaha Beach safe by a 2 ¾-length margin. With new jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., the three-year-old colt provided owner Robert P. Donaldson and trainer Juan Guerrero with their first Grade 1 win.
“This is one for the little guys,” Donaldson said in the winner’s circle.
Based at Parx, Spun to Run was the 9-1 fourth choice among 10 runners. He finished third when making his first stakes attempt in the Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park and earned his first stakes victory in the following start, taking the Smarty Jones (G3) at Parx in early September. The dark bay son of Hard Spun recorded a close fifth in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) three weeks later and entered the Dirt Mile off a front-running romp in October 12 M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile at his home track.
Spun to Run beat Blue Chipper to the fore from his inside post and completed the opening quarter-mile in :23.05 with a 1 ¾-length lead. He cornered wide into the stretch and drifted out late, but Spun to Run had plenty left through the final furlongs and finished the two-turn mile in 1:36.58.
Omaha Beach, the even-money favorite after returning from a six-month layoff with an excellent win in the October 5 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), got away a little slowly and rated off the pace in seventh. The three-year-old colt came under a ride from Mike Smith entering the far turn, passing rivals while wide on the bend, and grinded his way forward to be a non-threatening second in the latter stages, snapping a four-race win streak.
Finishing another 1 ½ lengths back was Korean-based Blue Chipper, who turned in a respectable performance in his U.S. debut. The Kentucky-bred gelded son of Tiznow stalked in second until the stretch and easily held third at 16-1 odds, 3 ¼ lengths better fourth-placer Snapper Sinclair. Improbable, Coal Front, Mr. Money, Diamond Oops, Ambassadorial and Giant Expectations completed the order.
Bred in Kentucky by Sabana Farm, Spun to Run was purchased by his owners for $64,000 at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Maryland two-year-old sale. He hails from the stakes-winning Grand Slam mare Yawkey Way and counts the stakes-winning Tap It All as a half-sister. With the Saturday’s $550,000 payday, Spun to Run has now earned $1,010,520 from an 11-5-1-3 record.
Dirt Mile Quotes
Winning trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero (Spun to Run) –“This is a dream come true for me, this means everything to me. Everything. Since the minute we got him he’s been a special horse to us. He’s so good about everything. He’s a colt, but he’s not mean. He loves to run. He’s a dream horse.
“When I put the full cup blinkers on him (before the Haskell, third), the next day he galloped so perfect I thought ‘wow, this is going to be a fun road with him.’ He was a different horse after I put the blinkers on. I really expected him to go wire-to-wire today. I just wanted my rider to let him run and show how he can run. A horse who can do what he can do, you’ve just got to let him run. This means so much to me. So much. It puts me at a different level as a trainer.”
Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. (Spun to Run) – “I just followed the instructions. He told me to break running. I broke running, then I thought I broke too hard. On the turn, I knew I was going a little too fast so I tried to slow it down, but he didn’t want to come back to me for a little while. I had to keep it together. I held it as long as I could. He was drifting out a little in the turn and I had to let him pick up it up earlier than I wanted to. He just kept going.”
Second-place trainer Richard Mandella (favorite Omaha Beach) – “Very proud, very much so. Just had a little bad luck at the start. But, throughout this whole summer, if we didn’t have bad luck we wouldn’t have had any luck at all. You could see he didn’t get out of there running and in a good momentum. Mike (Smith) did the right thing, he let him get it together, didn’t try to rush him off his feet. And, he came on and ran a great race. The winner ran a great race also. In the Breeders’ Cup, you don’t get much second chances in these races. These are champions going in.
“We’ll let them (the owners) talk about that (possibility staying in training for next year). Right now, we’ll probably point to the Malibu Stakes (G1) the day after Christmas.”
Second-place jockey Mike Smith (favorite Omaha Beach) – “He had a bad break from the gate that probably cost us a couple of lengths. As importantly, it also cost us position. Then, I had to wait, wait, wait and kept losing position. When he got clear at the three-eighths pole, the horse in front was long gone. Hats off to the winner, but I think I rode the best horse today.”
Ryu Seungho Ho, representative of third-place trainer Kim Young-Kwan (Blue Chipper) – “That was a great job. We had really hoped at best to finish third and we did. We’re really, really pleased.”
Third-place jockey Flavien Prat (Blue Chipper) – “He ran a really good race. He broke well. We got a good early position. He was very brave to keep on going to get third. Entering the stretch, I thought I would definitely be among the first two, but he just got tired late.”