11/02/2012 3:23PM

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint: Hightail gives Lukas 19th BC win

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Tom Keyser
Hightail (right) beats Merit Man by a nose in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The 19th will count as much as the first 18 did – even if it only took a maiden to defeat four other 2-year-olds Friday at Santa Anita in the $500,000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint, the opener of the two-day, 15-race sequence.

Hightail, the first maiden to win a BC event, allowed Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas to extend his all-time win record in the Breeders’ Cup to 19. The longest shot in the field of five, Hightail and jockey Rajiv Maragh snuck through a rail opening after turning for home in the six-furlong race, then outdueled the 1-2 favorite, Merit Man, to win by a nose. The winner returned $32.80 when finishing in 1:09.75 over a fast track.

Winning a Breeders’ Cup race “never gets old,” said Lukas, 77, who in recent years has been criticized in some corners for sending out hopeless longshots.

The Juvenile Sprint was being run for just the second time after making its debut as a BC event last year. Although 10 2-year-olds were pre-entered, only seven were entered Monday – and that was before Super Ninety Nine was an early scratch and South Floyd a late scratch, leaving just five to run. Neither colt is seriously injured.

Merit Man, with Pat Valenzuela aboard for trainer Bob Hess Jr., broke swiftest but was reined in down the backstretch, with Ceiling Kitty and Hazaradous applying pressure to his outside. By the quarter pole, as Merit Man put those two away, Maragh kept Hightail closest to the rail and quickly secured position for the stretch run, wearing down Merit Man in the final furlong to narrowly prevail.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Friday results and video replays]

Sweet Shirley Mae, the 7-2 third choice, finished third, another 2 1/4 lengths behind the top pair, and was followed by Hazardous and Ceiling Kitty.

A brief stewards’ inquiry into the stretch run resulted in no change in the order.

Hess held his head high in defeat.

“That’s 19 for Lukas and 0 for me,” he said with a laugh. “That’s OK. We’ll get there. My colt is just a clown, still learning. He ran hard and I’m proud of him.”

The victory for Lukas was his first in the BC since Folklore won the 2005 Juvenile Fillies at Belmont Park. Through the Juvenile Sprint, he had started a record 153 horses in the BC. Shug McGaughey is a distant second in career BC wins with 8.

Hightail, a dark bay colt by Mineshaft, is owned by the Bluegrass Hall of Brad Kelley, a wealthy businessman from south central Kentucky. Kelly’s daughter, Erin, accepted the winner’s trophy in her father’s absence. Purchased for $345,000 at Ocala in March, Hightail was making his ninth career start and had finished sixth in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in his previous start.

The $2 exacta (1-3) paid $50.60; the $1 trifecta (1-3-7) paid $60.90; and the dime superfecta (1-3-7-6) paid $16.18.

HandicapperErni More than 1 year ago
The coach D. Wayne Lukas got it done!! Nice ride by Rajiv Maragh IMO. I thought P.VAL put a bad ride on Merit Man and I thought P.Val could've blocked the rail for High Tail but didn't
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Congratulations, Hightail, on a very determined and stirring victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint. I love a duel to the wire and Hightail and Merit Man put on a pretty good one! Both of these horses looked great and I look forward to watching them both race in 2013. They both show lots and lots of promise. And the winner paid a nice, nice price for the win. The exotics were decent, too. Sweet Shirley Mae made a good showing for herself in third, the lone filly running against the boys. She shows promise as well and deserves a long look at as we transition into 2013. D. Wayne Lukas wins number 19. That's impressive in it's own right. Congratulations to him on this victory. He had long shot winner Hightail ready for action Breeders' Cup day. It was a nice victory for this horse. I congratulate Hightail and all of his connections. Excellent race.
nysteve27 More than 1 year ago
It really is a simple answer to everyone questioning rides and upsets in this race. These horses are just not that good. You saw the telecast, the Breeders Cup had to beg Lukas to just show up so they could fill the race. Forget the Lasix aspect for a minute, BIG mistake by Breeders Cup to add so many Juvenile races in the first place. Breeders Cup is supposed to crown Champions and I am afraid we may not be able to say that in this new Breeders Cup era. That being said Zagora made my day and all of the older divisions are full of good wagering opportunities.
Brandon Stevens More than 1 year ago
Actually I think the marathon was worse, why do they even run that race? Buncha bums. All PVals fault in this one, if he just stays on the rail no way 1 gets by, seems like something he should know.
Steve Hanna More than 1 year ago
That was the worst Breeders Cup race EVER. Where were the entries?
John Flynn More than 1 year ago
Lukas is Great - Age 77. God Bless Him & His Son Jeff. They were Team Lukas - Extraordinary & Amazing.
jon g More than 1 year ago
I always liked betting PVal,but his life has been lived hard and is a shell of himself. Awful race btw.
Nancy Rhinehart More than 1 year ago
What a totally pathetic ride /strategy by P Val. First he strangles the lone speed of the race, going head and head early with a couple of slow pokes, then he graciously moves over for the winner into the stretch, after that he stops riding briefly in midstretch like he's flopping for the judges, (Trying to get a DQ ) ??? and last but not least he never even thinks to switch to a left-hand whip to get the horse to re-break. Saw C J McCarron and L Pincay Jr ride for decades and don't ever remember them losing a stretch long duel by a nose with out ever bothering to switch the whip. C'mon man !!!!!
richard cowles More than 1 year ago
Because a horse has never won a race and is considered a maiden means nothing.Babes step up there game when and whenever.Better luck saturday...cry babies
rail rail More than 1 year ago
Junkie bum doesn't know how to close a gap the shmuck