White Abarrio won the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, cementing trainer Rick Dutrow's return from a 10-year suspension with a confident victory in the showpiece of the $31 million Breeders' Cup slate.
The striking grey colt, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr, delivered a confident performance to deny UAE Derby winner Derma Sotogake's bid to become the first Japanese horse to capture the Classic.
"It's incredible," said Dutrow, who notched a second Classic victory 18 years after winning with Saint Liam at Belmont Park in 2005.
Dutrow guided Big Brown to wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2008, but in 2011 he was suspended by New York racing authorities for repeated violations of medication and administrative rules.
He appealed and began serving the suspension in 2013, returning to the sport earlier this year.
"Incredible stuff I'm going through right now," Dutrow said.
White Abarrio broke cleanly from the third post and settled in behind early pace-setters Arabian Knight and Saudi Crown.
Arabian Knight trainer Bob Baffert had admitted an early speed duel with Saudi Crown was a danger for his lightly raced horse and, sure enough, White Abarrio, sent off as the 5-2 favourite, was perfectly poised to overtake the tiring front-runners in the top of the final straight.
Derma Sotogake rallied under jockey Christophe Lemaire to take second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Proxy.
"Everything came out perfect," said Ortiz, who claimed a second Classic win and his 19th Breeders' Cup victory.
Injuries and defections left the Classic noticeably lacking in star power, with none of the US Triple Crown winners entered.
AUGUSTE RODIN DAZZLES
It was a different story in the $4 million Turf, where Auguste Rodin, winner of the Epsom and Irish derbies as well as last month's Irish Champion Stakes, triumphed under a brilliant ride from Ryan Moore.
Squeezed early in what Moore called a "messy" stretch in the 1 1/2-mile race, Auguste Rodin came flying through on the inside to capture the victory ahead of US challenger Up to the Mark, trained by Todd Pletcher.
Japanese raider Shahryar was third from a field that included group one winners Mostahdaf and King of Steel.
"What an incredible ride," said Trainer Aidan O'Brien, who notched a record-extending seventh victory in the event.
Moore said it was never his plan to cut the corner at the top of the stretch, but it was the only place to aim his hard-charging mount.
"Ending up the rail was, like, Plan F and I had to make the best of the opportunities," Moore said after notching a 14th Breeders' Cup win, his fifth in the prestigious Turf.
"My horse was getting a bad trip. He won because he’s so good."