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Little Mike has pulled off a big upset

in the $US3 million ($A2.9 million), Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

The five-year-old gelding, trained by Dale Romans, sat off the pace set by

Turbo Compressor, but under jockey Ramon Dominguez seized the lead in the

straight and held off odds-on favourite Point of Entry and the fast-closing

St Nicholas Abbey, who was trying to retain the title he won at Churchill Downs

last year.

Dominguez said the 1-1/2 miles (2400m) on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) barred him from committing to the lead earlier.

“I did get a great trip right off the leaders,” Dominguez said.

“When I asked him to run, he gave me a great kick.”

It was what Romans had hoped for when he opted to extend his distance range.

“We had been trying to stretch him out all year, so we decided to stick to

our plan,” Romans said.

“We talked over the race last night and thought those

two horses (Turbo Compressor and Optimizer) would be gunning for the lead. We

were going to try to sit right off of them. He showed he could rate.

“He’s always been an over achiever, but he does deserve to be champion.”

Point of Entry’s jockey John Velazquez said his mount suffered from a

collision at the start.

“I got slammed coming out of the gate,” he said. “And the horse in front of

me kept coming in and out. By the time I got out, it was too late. He (Point of

Entry) was by far the best horse in the race.”

Since his Turf triumph at Churchill Downs last year, St Nicholas Abbey has

won just once, in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

He was never a factor in finishing 11th in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on

October 7 but trainer Aidan O’Brien hoped the firm turf track at Santa Anita

would suit him better.

Joseph O’Brien, whose victory last year aboard St Nicholas Abbey had made

him the youngest jockey to win a Breeders’ Cup race, said his horse ran well,

but just didn’t have quite enough.

“The trip was a good one for me,” he said. “He relaxed well off a fast

pace. When I asked him, he responded. We had to go a bit wide on the turn, but

nonetheless he ran very well.”

 
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