Breeders' Cup winner Bar of Gold ends career on a high note

DEL MAR, Calif. -- Bar of Gold left an incredible legacy on her way out. The 5-year-old New York-bred mare ran her final race when becoming the second-longest-priced winner in Breeders' Cup history in nailing Ami's Mesa on the wire Saturday in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

Trainer John Kimmel said Sunday that Bar of Gold will be flown Wednesday to New York, where she will be let down before being retired and bred early next year.

"She came out of this race in great shape," said Kimmel. "She ate all her dinner and an extra scoop, and her legs were ice cold."

Kimmel seemed about as surprised as anyone that Bar of Gold overcame her 66-1 odds in winning the 25th and final race of her career. Bar of Gold had gone winless in 15 graded stakes attempts and in 11 races over a dry dirt track. Her $135.40 mutuel on a $2 win bet is surpassed only by the $269.20 returned by Arcangues in the 1993 BC Classic. Irad Ortiz Jr. was aboard.

"These were the instructions to Irad in the paddock: 'You're on your own,' " Kimmel said with a laugh.

Still, in perfect 20-20 vision that comes with hindsight, Kimmel came up with several reasons Bar of Gold could win, including that she was turning back in distance in a race full of speed and the overall quality that made her a $1 million earner entering the race.

Winning owners and breeders Chester and Mary Broman were elated not only for themselves but also to provide a spotlight for New York racing and breeding, of which they are longtime supporters.

"We have quite a few horses, and to win something like this is unbelievable, really," said Mary Broman.

Meanwhile, there were no apparent excuses for the 11-10 favorite, Unique Bella, other than the pace she set (21.84 and 44.35 seconds) probably took a toll. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was tight-lipped after the 3-year-old filly faded to seventh in the field of 14, offering "no excuse" to Del Mar publicity on Saturday and declining to comment Sunday. Nonetheless, it would surprise no one to see Unique Bella return against 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 1 La Brea in late December at Santa Anita.

Ami's Mesa clearly relished the dirt in her first try over that surface when leading the entire stretch run but the last jump or two.

"I thought for a while that we were going to get it, but I could see that other horse coming," said trainer Josie Carroll. "She fought and just got out-nodded."

As for some of the other notables, Skye Diamonds was withdrawn from the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale Monday, said Jon Lindo, who manages the ownership group of the 4-year-old California-bred filly. Skye Diamonds was fourth as the 6-1 second choice.

"We're going to run her next year and hope to get some Grade 1 black type with her," said Lindo. "If things go well, we'd like to run her next year in the Filly-Mare Sprint" at Churchill Downs.

Finley'sluckycharm will live to fight another day after finishing ninth with no apparent mishap as the 7-1 third choice with Brian Hernandez Jr. up.

"She came back great," said trainer Bret Calhoun. "We don't really have any excuses other than Brian said she was just spinning her wheels."

Finest City, the 2016 Filly and Mare Sprint winner, ran eighth and is scheduled to be sold Monday at Fasig-Tipton. Tenth-place finisher By the Moon, a two-time Grade 1 winner, has been retired and will be bred early next year to Arrogate.