Updated on 09/18/2011 1:28AM

Invasor too much for Bernardini

Invasor, with Fernando Jara up, wins the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Invasor, who had not raced for three months, unleashed a powerful closing charge down the center of the track, caught favored Bernardini with a sixteenth of a mile to go, and pulled away for a one-length victory in 2:02.18 for 1 1/4 miles on the fast main track. Bernardini finished second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Premium Tap. Giacomo rallied for fourth and was followed, in order, by Brother Derek, George Washington, Lava Man, Perfect Drift, Lawyer Ron, Sun King, Flower Alley, Suave, and David Junior, who was eased.

Invasor ($15.40) gave trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, jockey Fernando Jara, and owner Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum's Shadwell Stable their second high-profile victory of the year. They also won the Belmont Stakes with Jazil.

Jara, 18, became the youngest rider to win a Breeders' Cup race. The Classic was the first Breeders' Cup win for both Jara and McLaughlin.

The win should clinch both Horse of the Year and champion older horse for Invasor, 4, who won 4 of 5 starts this year. His lone loss came in the United Arab Emirates Derby, which was won by Discreet Cat. Invasor's previous victories came in the Pimlico Special, Suburban Handicap, and Whitney Handicap, all Grade 1 races. He missed the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and a potential match with Bernardini, because of a minor illness.

"He's really come on a lot the last 90 days," McLaughlin said. "Fernando rode a great race. He was in the two path in the first turn from post 11. For sure he's the best older horse, maybe Horse of the Year."

Bernardini, who was sent off the even-money favorite off the strength of six straight wins, including the Preakness Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup, ran well in defeat and should be named champion 3-year-old, though there will be considerable sentimental leanings for Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Bernardini is owned by Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Hamdan's brother. Both are members of the ruling family of Dubai.

The day was marred by the fatal breakdown of Pine Island in the Distaff, a race in which Fleet Indian suffered a career-ending ligament injury.

Javier Castellano rode Pine Island, and fell heavily to the ground. But he shook himself off and came back to ride Bernardini.

A crowd of 75,132, the third-largest in the 23-year history of the Breeders' Cup, attended the races on a cold and gray, though dry, afternoon.

The races were run over a main track that will undoubtedly receive ample criticism in upcoming days, and not only for the injuries suffered by Pine Island and Fleet Indian in the Distaff. The rail was clearly the place to be for most of the day, and affected the races to such a degree that the first four Breeders' Cup races on the dirt were won by horses who stayed on the rail the whole way.

It could even be argued that the early results affected the pace of the Classic. Brother Derek, starting from the rail, set off at a hot pace, with Lawyer Ron and Lava Man in close pursuit. Invasor and Bernardini came around horses, making an impact through a final half-mile that was run in more than 51 seconds.

Preceding the Classic, the only two favorites who won were Dreaming of Anna ($7.20) in the Juvenile Fillies and Ouija Board ($4.80), who won the Filly and Mare Turf for the second time. Otherwise, longshots kept rolling home, with Street Sense ($32.40) in the Juvenile, Thor's Echo ($33.20) in the Sprint, Miesque's Approval ($50.60) in the Mile, Round Pond ($29.80) in the Distaff, and Red Rocks ($23.60) in the Turf.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who sent out a record 17 starters, was blanked, though he did finish second three times and third twice.

Frankie Dettori was the only jockey to win two races, aboard Ouija Board and Red Rocks.

The Classic was the last of the eight Breeders' Cup races. Bernardini was favored, with Invasor and Lava Man both next at 6-1. Lava Man had more money bet to win on him, making him the second choice.

Brother Derek, starting from the rail, was let roll through the lane by jockey Alex Solis and set fractions of 23.12 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 46.60 for a half-mile, and 1:11.11 for six furlongs while hounded by Lawyer Ron.

Bernardini, who was between horses going around the first turn, went outside in order to advance down the backstretch. Invasor, meanwhile, was farther back and nearer the rail until launching his winning bid.

As the field roared around the far turn and into the lane, Brother Derek was trying to hold off the onrushing Bernardini, who loomed menacingly while three paths wide. Bernardini moved past Brother Derek, and lightly brushed with him. Solis claimed foul after the race, but no change was made by the stewards.

As soon as Bernardini got the lead, Invasor came charging at him. Bernardini led narrowly past the eighth pole in 1:36.59, but Invasor had too much momentum.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch