Updated on 11/01/2013 5:57PM

Breeders' Cup Marathon: London Bridge strongest in stretch under Mike Smith

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Debra A. Roma
London Bridge wears down the leaders in deep stretch of the 1 3/4-mile Breeders' Cup Marathon.

ARCADIA, Calif. – For the first mile of Friday’s $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita, London Bridge was giving Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith few positive vibes.

Smith worried London Bridge was struggling on Santa Anita’s dirt track, in his first start on the surface. When the field reached the end of the backstretch in the race over 1 3/4 miles, the scenario changed.

“At the three-eighths pole, all of a sudden, he jumped on the line,” Smith said of what he felt through his reins. “It was the first time.”

London Bridge was fifth with a quarter-mile remaining and rallied wide in the final furlong to win by a length over 7-1 Blueskiesnrainbows. London Bridge ($20) was timed in 2:58.32. He made his graded stakes debut in the Grade 2 BC Marathon.

Worldly finished third, followed by Suns Out Guns Out, Indian Jones, Old Time Hockey, Pool Play, Commander, and Cease. Ever Rider, the 9-2 favorite and a stakes winner in Argentina in June, was eased with a half-mile remaining and did not finish. Jockey Gary Stevens said Ever Rider “was done after six furlongs. I took care of him after that.”

[BREEDERS' CUP FRIDAY: Video replays and race results]

Ever Rider was not injured, according to veterinary officials.

Commander, a stakes winner in Canada this year, set the pace, closely followed by Ever Rider and Blueskiesnrainbows through the first mile. Blueskiesnrainbows, winner of the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park in 2012, led in the stretch, but could not hold off London Bridge.

“No complaints,” said Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Blueskiesnrainbows. “He ran very well. What an exciting race.”

For Smith, the all-time leading rider in Breeders’ Cup history, the victory aboard London Bridge was a pleasant surprise.

“I had to ride him and then take a hold, give him confidence and let him move forward,” Smith said. “I didn’t believe in him, but the connections did.”

Owned by Waratah Thoroughbreds, London Bridge is trained by Jo Hughes, who is based in England. Mikael Magnusson, Hughes’s assistant, was the initial trainer of London Bridge before the 3-year-old New York-bred changed hands privately. Magnusson attended Friday’s race and paid tribute to Smith’s ride.

“We made a plan,” Magnusson said. “We said the race will be overpaced. Mike made all the difference today.

“When [London Bridge] came to the backstretch the second time, I thought he had a chance. He’s a very lazy horse. When he turned for home, I thought he’d win it. The other horses looked pretty knackered.”

London Bridge is by Arch and was purchased for $130,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale. London Bridge has won 4 of 9 starts and $307,962. He had career earnings of $32,962 before Friday’s race.

Payoffs:
$2 exacta (7-8), $192.40
$1 trifecta (7-8-10), $695.30
$.10 super (7-8-10-5), $474.22
$2 double (5-7), $188.60
$1 pick-3 (10-5-7), $1,103.50
$.50 pick-4 (9-10-5-7), $29,725.25