After a three-month layoff, a commanding White Abarrio took full control of the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Classic as the field rounded the turn at the top of the stretch to spike a decisive one-length win ahead of Derma Sotogake, who placed, and an onrushing Proxy, who showed. Rather highly touted in the trackside chatter and in the odds prior to post time, White Abarrio had been expected to hit the board and brought a moderate $7.20 to win.
Less expected to walk off with a slice of the pot, to say nothing of the place cut, Japan-owned Derma Sotogake, ridden by Christoph Lemaire, brought the players who backed him a rather more pleasing $18.80 in second. Proxy paid a respectable $7.80 in show.
Arguably, the 40th running of the Classic held its largest surprise off the board, as the robustly touted Bob Baffert trained Arabian Knight, who as predicted likes to be up front and proved that again by leading for much of this race, could not manage to hold on. Apparently, in his — again, expected — early control of the front with Saudi Crown, Arabian Knight managed to overextend himself with his own style and faded to fourth in the last two furlongs, overtaken by the winner, by the surprising Derma Sotogake and by Proxy. The Japan-owned Ushba Tesoro, favored earlier in the week, finished fifth. Brad Cox-trained Saudi Crown finished tenth in the 12-horse field.
Breaking from the far inside, namely, the three-hole, with just one other horse between him and the rail, White Abarrio settled in the upper middle of the pack, just off the pace as quickly set by Arabian Knight and Saudi Crown. In the turns, White Abarrio and Irad Ortiz began to show their mettle, and as the pack came out of the clubhouse turn, Ortiz had White Abarrio perfectly positioned, sliding up on the leaders in the three lane, just outside them. White Abarrio and Ortiz breezed by, with Ortiz working his whip, and his mount responding with alacrity. It was a decisive finish at the wire, with Proxy and Derma Sotogake both looking as if they were ready for more.
For White Abarrio’s trainer Richard Dutrow, coming off a stiff 10-year suspension for a series of medical violations, it was a redemptive outing.