Updated on 11/02/2013 7:39PM

Breeders' Cup Turf: Magician pulls one out of his hat

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Susie Raisher
Magician rallies late to catch The Fugue and win the Breeders' Cup Turf.

ARCADIA, Calif. – There was no illusion or tricks to Magician’s win in Saturday’s $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

In his first start since a ninth-place finish in the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, Magician ($25) made his first start over 1 1/2 miles on turf and took to the distance with ease, winning by a half-length over The Fugue, the 3-2 favorite.

The first two finishers were the only European-based runners in the field of 12 and continued a remarkable weekend of success for horses from that continent at the Breeders’ Cup.

The win gave Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien his fourth career win in the BC Turf, a victory for which the low-key O’Brien deferred credit. He said owners Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier suggested that Magician run in the BC Turf despite the layoff. In addition, O’Brien paid tribute to jockey Ryan Moore’s ride.

Magician was 11th for the first mile, well behind the longshot pacesetter Teaks North. Moore continued his patient ride entering the stretch.

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

Magician was still seventh with a furlong remaining, trailing then leader Vagabond Shoes by four lengths.

With a wide rally, Magician caught deep stretch leader The Fugue in the final strides, finishing in 2:23.23.

“Ryan gave him an incredible ride,” O’Brien said. “He had him in a lovely rhythm. He pulled him off the bend and the run carried him to the line.”

The Fugue finished three-quarters of a length in front of Indy Point, an Argentine-bred trained by Richard Mandella. Point of Entry, second in the 2012 BC Turf, finished fourth, followed by Vagabond Shoes, Twilight Eclipse, Little Mike, Big Blue Kitten, Real Solution, Skyring, Teaks North, and Tale of a Champion.

Little Mike won the 2012 BC Turf.

The Fugue, the only female in the race, gave a winning effort. Her loss left jockey William Buick in tears after he discussed the race with trainer John Gosden.

“The whole race went according to plan,” Gosden said. “She just got caught right before the line. Full marks to Aidan. [Magician] hasn’t run since June.”

Magician won the Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh in May, but had a disrupted preparation for the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. O’Brien said that Magician kicked a stall wall, resulting in swelling in a leg in early June. While being treated in a whirlpool, O’Brien said that Magician became startled when a bird flew over his head. In the incident, Magician suffered bruising in his front legs.

When the bruising subsided, O’Brien chose to run Magician at Royal Ascot, a decision he later regretted.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I shouldn’t have run him,” he said.

When the O’Brien-trained Camelot, winner of the 2012 English Derby, was retired earlier this fall, Magician became a candidate for the BC Turf. He showed Saturday that the new distance was well within his ability.

Payoffs:
$2 exacta (11-7), $73.40
$1 trifecta (11-7-9), $316.90
$.10 super (11-7-9-8), $145.03
50-cent pick 3 (12-4-11), $344.55