Structor gives Brown Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf win

Arcadia (United States) (AFP) –


Structor gave trainer Chad Brown a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on Friday at Santa Anita, where the $28 million festival opened amid heightened concerns over horse safety.

With Jose Ortiz in the irons, the 5-1 shot remained unbeaten in three races as he gave America's top turf trainer Brown his 13th Breeders' Cup win but his first in the $1 million, one-mile race for two-year-old colts and geldings.

"He broke alertly and I was able to save ground all the way around," said Ortiz, who brought Structor four wide at the top of the stretch to power to the front.

"I wanted to ask him to run sooner, but I had nowhere to go at the three-eighths pole.

"Once we got into the clear, he really finished strong."

European raider Arizona, trained by Ireland's Aidan O'Brien, went off the 2-1 favorite under Ryan Moore but he failed to find room early and finished fifth as Billy Batts and Gear Jockey -- 50-1 and 60-1 respectively -- finished second and third.

"With him getting a bit slowly away, Ryan had to accept the position in which he found himself," O'Brien said. "I don't think it was a fast pace, which also didn't help him, but we're not too disappointed.

"He's going to be a lovely three-year-old and I'd imagine he'll go straight to the Guineas now."

There was a scare in the finishing straight as pace-setter Graceful Kitten appeared to hit the rail and nearly stumbled, but he collected himself and crossed the line.

It was a sobering moment at Santa Anita, where 36 horse deaths this year have sparked calls for change.

Although no single cause has been pinpointed, Santa Anita's owners the Stronach Group has instituted restrictions on allowed medications and beefed up veterinary scrutiny of horses at the track -- measures that are in force for the two-day, 14-race Breeders' Cup that draws entrants from around the world.

Vitalogy, trained by Brendan Walsh, was a race-day scratch from the Juvenile Turf after pre-race vet examinations.

Every Breeders' Cup runner was subject to at least three exams prior to racing, with vets stationed around the track during training looking for any signs of trouble.

The nature of any unsoundness was not disclosed, and Walsh told Daily Racing Form he disagreed with the decision, saying the colt was "the same as he's always been."

Vitalogy was the second veterinary scratch under the new system, after the decision Thursday to pull the Brown-trained Thais from Saturday's $2 million Filly & Mare Turf.

Rick Arthur, the California Horse Racing Board's equine medical director said the decision was made after he and CHRB vet Tim Grande inspected the mare with Brown present.

- Racing protesters turn out -

Arthur, again declining to specify a particular problem, said the mare -- running as a pacemaker to Brown's favorite Sistercharlie -- was examined multiple times.

Brown also disagreed with the decision, and told that he was denied a chance to conduct further diagnostic tests such as X-rays or ultrasound.

Anti-racing protesters, who have been a presence at Santa Anita throughout the year, were again stationed at one of the gates with signs denouncing the sport on Friday, their numbers likely to swell on Saturday when nine races will be capped by the $6 million Classic.

Four Wheel Drive, trained by Wesle Ward and ridden by Irad Ortiz, opened the proceedings with a victory in the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint.

The 3-2 favorite broke cleanly and led throughout the five-furlong rate, holding off late-charging Chimney Rock by three-quarters of a length.

The son of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah is now unbeaten in three starts.

Another Miracle nipped Ward's Kimari by a head for third in the five-furlong race.