Knicks Go wins a horse race

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) — Knicks GB set the tone early and kicked off a 2 3/4 length win in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday in Del Mar.

Ridden by Joel Rosario, 5-year-old Knicks Go took on a trio of top 3-year-olds – controversial Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality and local hero Hot Rod Charlie.

Sent off at 3-1, Knicks GB paid $8.40 to win for coach Brad Cox. He also saddled 9-5 favorite Essential Quality, who finished third.

Medina Spirit finished second to embattled coach Bob Baffert. The colt failed a post-race drug test after the Derby and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has yet to issue a final decision based on its investigation.

Hot Rod Charlie finished fourth. Fans chanted “Let’s go Chuck!” before the race.

The classic peloton was reduced to eight when Express Train was scratched in the morning with a swelling in the right shank, similar to an ankle.

In other races:

– Japan went 0-for-13 in the Breeders’ Cup, with a stunning 45-1 upset in the $2 million Distaff and victory in the $2 million Filly and Mare Turf.

Marche Lorraine edged Dunbar Road by a nose after a photo-finish in the distaff. The 5-year-old mare ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.67 and paid $101.80 to win under Irish jockey Oisín Murphy.

Letruska, the 8-5 favorite with ties to Mexico, finished 10th among 11 horses.

Yoshito Yahagi trained both Japanese champions. Loves Only You won the Filly & Mare Turf by half a length under Yuga Kawada. She ran 1 3/8 miles in 2:13.87 and paid $10.60 to win.

“I would like to say thank you to my horse. She did a great job,” Yahagi said through a translator. “It’s a dream come true for the Japanese horse racing industry. I would love to come back to the Breeders’ Cup in Keeneland next year and do the same.

Yahagi didn’t have to wait that long. Three races later, he saddled Marche Lorraine in the Quenouille.

Filly & Mare Turf favorite War Like Goddess 2-1 finished third. Defending champion Audarya finished fifth.

– British-bred Yibir won the $4 million Turf by half a length, giving trainer Charlie Appleby, jockey William Buick and owner Godolphin Stables their third win of the weekend. Godolphin is the racing outfit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai. Yibir ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:25.90 and paid $19 to win at 8-1 odds. The 3-year-old gelding had a heartbeat on his way home before charging outside and staggering Broome, who finished second. Tarnawa, the 2-1 favorite, was 11th.

The trio teamed up earlier to win the $2 million Mile with 2-1 favorite Space Blues and the $1 million Juvenile Turf on Friday with Modern Games.

— In the Mile, the Irish-born Space Blues won by half a length. He ran the distance on turf in 1:34.01 and paid $6.20 to win as a 2-1 favorite in his final run before retiring. Appleby’s other horse, Master of the Seas, was scratched from the starting grid after acting in first position. Neither the horse nor jockey James Doyle were injured. It was similar to what happened on Friday, when Modern Games was mistakenly scratched by vets before being reinstated to run in Juvenile Turf purely for purse money. The modern Games have won. “I’m getting used to that kind of talk now,” Appleby joked.

– Aloha West scored an upset by winning the $2 million Sprint by a nose. The 4-year-old colt, who started his racing career this year, finished sixth at the top of the stretch and edged out Dr Schivel on the wire under Jose Ortiz, who won his second Cup race of the weekend. Coached by Wayne Catalano, Aloha West ran six furlongs in 1:08.49 and paid $24.60 to win. Jackie’s Warrior, the 1-2 favorite, finished sixth.

– Ce Ce won the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint by 2 1/2 lengths in an upset. The 6-1 shot paid $14.40 to win. Defending champion Gamine, the 2-5 favorite coached by Bob Baffert, finished third, ending her five-game winning streak. Victor Espinoza, who is 49, rode the winner. She ran seven furlongs in 1:21.

– Life Is Good picked up a 5 3/4 length victory in the $1 million Dirt Mile, giving jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. his third Cup win of the weekend. The 3-year-old colt ran the distance in 1:34.12 and paid $3.40 to win as a 3-5 favorite. Todd Pletcher coaches Life Is Good and wins his 12th Cup victory. Ortiz has 14 career Cup wins.

– Golden Pal soared into the lead in the $1 million Turf Sprint and won by 1 1/4 lengths under Irad Ortiz Jr. The 5-2 favorite ran 1 1/4 miles in 54.75 seconds and paid $7 to win. Ortiz and trainer Wesley Ward teamed up to take on Juvenile Turf Friday with Twilight Gleaming.

–Jockey ET Baird was fined $5,000 by Del Mar stewards for violating California whip rules during the Juvenile Turf Sprint on Friday. He was cited for using the whip more than six times during a race. His mount, One Timer, finished ninth.

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AP freelance writer Mike Farrell contributed to this report.

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