10/25/2008 12:00AM

Experience key as Desert Code upsets Turf Sprint


ARCADIA, Calif. - Experience over Santa Anita's unique hillside turf course paid off handsomely for longshot Desert Code and jockey Richard Migliore in Saturday's inaugural running of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.

Desert Code, a three-time winner over the down-the-hill turf course entering the race, rallied from well off the pace under Migliore to get up in the final two jumps and beat Diabolical by a half-length. It was one-length back to Storm Treasure. The first- and third-place finishers needed to draw in from the preference list after initially being left out of the body of the field when pre-entries were announced Oct. 16.

It was the first Breeders' Cup victory for Migliore - previously 0 for 13 in the series- who was injured a couple of weeks before Artie Schiller, his regular mount, won the 2005 Breeders' Cup Mile.

"You battle so hard, you fight so much, you want this so bad," said Migliore, who moved his tack to California from New York two years ago before returning to New York last summer. "I've always liked this little horse, but if we could have got a check, I would have been happy."

Desert Code, trained by David Hofmans, had won his three previous races down the hill either from on or just off the pace. Saturday, he was about a dozen lengths off the pace after a half-mile was run in a ridiculous 41.81 seconds. Migliore said he hustled his horse away from the gate, but knew if he kept on asking, he would have no shot at winning. Also, Migliore didn't want to ask his horse to run prior to crossing over the Pro-Ride surface, another unique aspect of this course.

"I didn't want to move before the dirt because that's when you get in trouble on this course," Migliore said. "It's almost when you're back on this course you have to be even a little more patient so my experience served me well in that respect."

At the top of the stretch, Migliore tipped Desert Code outside and he closed powerfully to run down Diabolical, who had taken the lead in midstretch under Frankie Dettori, but who raced through the lane on his wrong lead.

Desert Code, owned by Susan Osborne, covered the 6 1/2 furlongs on the firm turf in 1:11.60 and returned $75 to win. Three years ago, Hofmans won the Distaff here with Adoration ($83.40). In 1996, he won the Classic with Alphabet Soup ($41.80).

Hofmans said he had planned to run Desert Code in this race ever since it was announced that the Breeders' Cup was coming to Santa Anita. But he lost a little confidence when he saw his horse so far back.

"I thought he was too far back, but I have so much confidence in Migliore riding this horse," Hofmans said. "He's won four races down the hill on him, probably should have been five."