Jockey Mike Smith rides Songbird to the win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland Racecourse on Saturday.
Jockey Mike Smith rides Songbird to the win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland Racecourse on Saturday. (Rob Carr / Getty Images)

The Breeders' Cup has always fancied its event as international. Now, thanks to Mongolian Saturday, there can be no question.

The Kentucky-bred 5-year-old won the $1-million Turf Sprint by a neck Saturday.


He was ridden by Frenchman Florent Geroux. He is owned and trained by Mongolians.

The owner, Ganbaatar Dagvadorj, said he was in mining, construction, "food distillery" and hotels.

"Also oil," he said, adding that, among his acquisitions are a Holiday Inn and a Burger King.

He is also married to a former Miss Mongolia.

The trainer, Enebish Ganbat, said his boss loved "beautiful women and fast horses."

They bought the horse for $60,000 and have been in the money with him in his last 10 outings, collecting $550,000 for the Turf Sprint win. He paid $33.80, $13.60 and $7.80.

The connections said that it is common for Mongolians to be riding horses by age 4. They also said that races in their country occasionally go as long as 15 miles and have as many as 4,000 starters. Their horses are smaller versions of thoroughbreds, and that's what Ganbat trained before he came to the United States to try it in the big time.

Happy day

Not only did Breeders' Cup Saturday bring Mongolian success, it also brought rookie magic.

Runhappy, a perfectly named sprinter, took the Sprint with a closing burst that brought a three-quarter-length victory and a track record of 1:08.58 for the six furlongs. Private Zone and Favorite Tale were second and third, respectively, and also broke the track record.

The rookie was not the horse. It was trainer Maria Borell, a former exercise rider, who somewhat stumbled onto the training of Runhappy.

The horse is owned by Houston furniture store owner and local celebrity Jim (Mattress Mack) McIngvale. His sister-in-law, Laura Wohlers, found the horse, trained it for a while and then got busy back at the furniture story and gave the horse to Borell, whose training experience was mostly scrambling to even get horses in her barn.

McIngvale said he knew the horse "was going to freak on Halloween," and praised the unheralded Borell.

Borell, asked to express her feelings, said, "Unbelievable. Unreal. A thousand things that I probably can't put in words."


Deja vu?

If you are looking toward next years' Kentucky Derby, think of it in terms of You'll Have Another.

Barring injury, one entry certainly will be Nyquist, who won the $2-million Juvenile. He is owned by J. Paul Reddam, trained by Doug O'Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez. Sound familiar?

That is the exact group that brought I'll Have Another to the 2012 Derby and won it and the Preakness, before the horse was scratched the day before the Belmont because of a tendon injury.

Nyquist, now five for five, drew this first-reaction quote from O'Neill:

"I'm speechless," he said, which he seldom is.

The trainer, however, recovered quickly.

"From Day One," he said, "before this horse even debuted, he had the mind and the stride of a two-turn horse."

Another scratch

The look of the Breeders' Cup Classic changed Thursday when Beholder was scratched, and changed a bit more with another scratch Saturday.

Smooth Roller, the winner of the Sept. 15, Grade I Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita, was withdrawn with a tendon issue in his left foreleg.

Smooth Roller is the son of 2007 Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun and had won three of his four starts for trainer Victor Garcia. In the Awesome Again, Smooth Roller lived up to his name while beating two Bob Baffert stars, Bayern and Hoppertunity.

We'll never know

Andy Beyer, well-known race columnist, wagering expert and frequent contrarian, wrote in Saturday's Daily Racing Form: "American Pharoah would not have won with Liam's Map in the field."

This, of course, was before American Pharoah did win.

Liam's Map won Friday's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, a race Beyer said was used to duck American Pharoah.

What a lady

If Beholder wins the Eclipse Award this year for older females, it will mark the first time since 1963 that a horse has won the Champion 2-year-old Filly Eclipse, then the Champion 3-year-old Filly Eclipse the next year, followed by the older female award.

Cicada did that in 1961, '62 and '63.


Ahmad Zayat, owner of American Pharoah, stunned an audience of about 300 earlier this week at an awards dinner held by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. Zayat, part of the American Pharoah team there to receive an award honoring his horse's Triple Crown season, announced that he was donating $100,000 to the organization for use in its internship scholarship program. ... The record Friday crowd of 44,947 at Keeneland brought an on-track handle of $7,550,279, topping last year's on-track Santa Anita handle of $6,070,456. Saturday's attendance at Keeneland was 50,155. At Santa Anita on Saturday last year, it was 61,114.

Twitter: @DwyreLATimes

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