Rick Dutrow, Jr., may be smiling for the rest of his life.
After a 10-year suspension from the sport he loves, the 64-year-old trainer capped his comeback with a decisive victory by White Abarrio in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.
The Classic was the centerpiece of the two-day, 14-race, $31 million Breeders’ Cup, contested at Santa Anita for the 11th time.
Sent the near-white horse in May by owners C2 Racing Stables and La Milagrosa Stable, Dutrow saddled the 4-year-old colt to a third-place finish in the Met Mile (G1) and then to a resounding 6 ½-length win in the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 5.
The race set up perfectly for White Abarrio, who was sent to Santa Anita several weeks ago to get comfortable. And was he ever. Ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., White Abarrio settled well in third behind expected pacesetters Arabian Knight and Saudi Crown.
By the time the field hit the top of the stretch in the 1 ¼-mile Classic, it was all White Abarrio ($7.20), who refused to be caught while Ortiz pumped his fist in the air as the pair crossed the finish line.
The winning margin was one length over Japan-based Derma Sotogake, winner of the UAE Derby (G2). Proxy was third and Arabian Knight fourth.
“I felt that he was a winner all the way around the track,’’ Dutrow, who trained 2008 Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown. “He broke good. He was setting off a couple of horses in front of him, which he liked. He came up on the outside of them. When he did that, I knew we had nothing in our way, it was only a matter of someone coming to catch us. I felt good.”
“So, we thought the race was over at that point. I was just yelling and rooting for him. We watched in the paddock, and it was great.”
Included among the hugs Dutrow shared with friends and family was one around the neck of the horse that put Dutrow back on top of the racing world.
Dutrow was suspended for 10 years in 2011 by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board/Gaming Commission for numerous medication and administrative violations.
Dutrow won the Classic for the second time; he won with Saint Liam in 2005. It was the 19th BC race win for Ortiz, and his second Classic – he won aboard Vino Rosso in 2019.
The victory was worth $3,120,000 and increased White Abarrio’s earnings to $4,946,350 with a record of 15-7-1-3.
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.