USA: Tamarkuz a surprise winner of Dirt Mile

Tamarkuz and Mike Smith powering clear in the Dirt Mile

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Tamarkuz springs surprise in Dirt Mile
By David Baxter 10:11PM 4 NOV 2016

Report: USA, Friday

Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (Grade 1) 1m, dirt, 3yo+

TRAINER Kiaran McLaughlin had never had a winner of any kind at the track prior to Tamarkuz's shock victory in the Dirt Mile, as the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned six-year-old blazed home.

Favourite Dortmund was unable to enjoy an uncontested lead, having been pestered by Gun Runner throughout, and the pair set the race up for a finisher, with Tamarkuz's jockey Mike Smith needing no second invitation.

Dortmund's efforts to try and stay in front told in the straight as the odds-on favourite failed to make the frame, finishing fourth.

Gun Runner held on for second, with Accelerate coming from off the pace to grab third.

Smith said: "I had really a good trip. It set up. There was a lot of pace. Tamarkuz has speed himself and right away they opened two, three, four (lengths), so I knew they were going fast.

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"After that it was just a matter of getting him into a comfortable rhythm and a happy place. When I called on him, he finished like he's been finishing for me. I really thought he had a good shot today."

Bob Baffert confirmed that the strong pace had compromised Dortmund's chances, and said: "We were hoping to go to the front and didn't, but got into a good position. It was a pretty hot pace. He looked great down the backside.

"When I saw the fractions, I got a little worried. The track is demanding today. He just didn't bring it like he has before."

Also on Friday

Santa Anita: Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (Grade 1) 1m, turf, 2yo colts and geldings

OSCAR PERFORMANCE struck first for the home team in the Breeders' Cup Grade 1 bonanza, giving jockey Jose Ortiz his first victory at the meeting.

Trained by Brian Lynch, Oscar Performance was well-positioned just behind leader Wellabled in a race run at a fearsome gallop.

It paid to be handy as few could get involved from off the pace, with Lancaster Bomber closing to take second for Aidan O'Brien, while favourite Good Samaritan was third.

An emotional Ortiz, brother of fellow jockey Irad Ortiz, struggled to contain his emotion at winning a race at the meeting, and said: "It means a lot, I wish my father was here."

"I had a perfect trip. He broke very alertly. I put myself where I wanted to be, right behind the speed. Approaching the half-mile pole I felt I had a lot horse underneath me, so I just kind of waited until I crossed the quarter pole to unleash him."

Lynch was similarly delighted, and said: "It's nice to finally get to put your name to one of these races, I'm ecstatic."

Luck in running

Seamie Heffernan felt he could have been closer with a better position on Lancaster Bomber, and said: "He's a fair horse and he's run a brilliant race. I was drawn one and I wasn't as quick away as the American horses, which the European horses usually aren't.

"I think I'm as good as the winner – I just didn't have the same trip he had. I only had to switch around two – the run was good, but I just would've liked a better position."

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