Breeders’ Cup notes: Jockeying for rides at last minute

ARCADIA, Calif. — Jockeys, agents, and trainers were left scrambling Saturday to fill the mounts of jockey John Velazquez, who was thrown from Secret Compass and had to have emergency spleen surgery after the day’s first Breeders’ Cup race, the $2 million Juvenile Fillies.

It was a day of mixed results for the replacement riders on the eight horses slated to have Velazquez in the saddle, with a win for Jose Lezcano aboard Wise Dan in the Mile and a pair of seconds for other jockeys earlier on the card.

The seconds included Havana, the favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, one of two Velazquez mounts taken over by 50-year-old Hall of Famer Gary Stevens.


Stevens steered Havana to the lead and what looked like a victory in the homestretch before the colt lost steam and was overtaken by trainer Bob Baffert’s New Year’s Day.

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With little time for instructions, Stevens said Havana’s connections kept it simple, saying nothing more than hold on to the whip.

Luis Saez, the first jockey to take up a Velazquez mount just minutes after the accident, came even closer. Saez rode Judy The Beauty in a fierce rally in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint before winner Groupie Doll found a second wind and won by a half-length.

‘‘I came flying, but it was too late,’’ said Saez, who was asked to ride the Judy The Beauty by an assistant trainer just 15 minutes before the race.

Whose No. 1 in 2013?

Mucho Macho Man’s Classic win throws another race wide open: the contest for Horse of the Year.


Game On Dude would have been a near-sure thing for the Eclipse Award had he won as the favorite in the Classic, and may still take it after going 5 for 6.

A case could be made for Mucho Macho Man after the colossal Classic victory, but the 5-year-old horse had won just once this year.

That may make 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan a favorite to repeat after his victory in the Mile.