The trainer and jockey who combined to win last year’s Melbourne Cup have enhanced their international reputations on the first day of Breeders’ Cup racing.
French raider Flotilla surged through an opening in the stretch to give Europe a first win Friday in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup with a triumph in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
With Christophe Lemaire aboard for trainer Mikel Delzangles, Flotilla was racing in mid-pack in the 14-horse field on Santa Anita’s firm turf track.
Lemaire found an opening between two horses at the top of the stretch and his mount powered home to a 1-1/4-length victory over Watsdachances in the $US1 million ($A965,670), one-mile race.
Summer Of Fun was third with early pace-setter Tara from the Cape fourth.
Lemaire partnered the Delzangles-trained Dunaden to victory in the 2011 Melbourne Cup but he will miss the ride on the stayer in this year’s race on Tuesday with Melbourne-based Craig Williams to keep the mount after a last-start Caulfield Cup triumph.
Delzangles has made two lightning trips to Australia to check on Dunaden’s progress and he will return to Melbourne from the United States for his horse’s defence of Australia’s richest thoroughbred race.
“This is great, absolutely great,” he said. “It was a good preliminary for Australia.”
Delzangles admitted he didn’t know how Flotilla would do in her first trip to America.
“I was surprised how well she settled here,” he said. “I was not confident she would win but thought she would run a good race.”
He said the performance had him thinking about Flotilla’s plans for next season.
“Hopefully she will be a Classic filly in Europe next year,” he said.
Royal Delta repeated as Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner in emphatic style to cap the opening day.
Jockey Mike Smith claimed a record 16th Breeders’ Cup victory, surpassing the mark of 15 he had shared with Jerry Bailey.
He took Royal Delta to the front early and held on for the win, showing one last turn of speed when challenged at the top of the stretch.
The previously unbeaten My Miss Aurelia, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Corey Nakatani, was second and Include Me Out was third.