With his win in the Friday running of the Ladies Classic, Mike Smith broke a tie atop the all-time standings in the Breeders' Cup history books.
Aboard Royal Delta, Smith won his 16th career race at the Breeders' Cup, a record that will probably be broken at some point in the far-reaches of the event. For now, though, Smith stands alone in time, with a designation that further cements his place in horse racing folk lore.
If you remember the 2012 Belmont Stakes, Smith took a lot of heat for allowing John Velazquez and Union Rags to claim a late victory.
The media appreciated the win by Velazquez, but Smith shouldn't have allowed such a late inside charge by a fellow jockey, and it denied Bob Baffert and Paynter a win he sought for so long during this Grade 1 season.
Baffert didn't get it that day, and Smith almost contributed to him losing on Saturday at the Breeders' Classic. Riding on Mucho Macho Man, the second place finisher, Smith almost added a third win to his weekend at the 2012 edition of the event.
Horse racing reporter Ray Paulick helped spread the news about Smith's epic win on Friday, and again when he played spoiler to Baffert's horse Game On Dude in the Classic on Saturday night.
With victory on Royal Delta, Mike Smith becomes all-time leading @breederscup jockey by wins, with 16.— Ray Paulick (@raypaulick) November 2, 2012
Though he fell just short of winning Classic on Mucho Macho Man, Mike Smith now all-time leading @breederscup jockey by money won.— Ray Paulick (@raypaulick) November 4, 2012
The emotional win on Friday was the highlight of the weekend for Smith and those close to him. A win in the Classic event would have been the icing on the cake, and added No. 17 to his already record-breaking win total.
Smith had a chance to take down Fort Larned down the final stretch, but would have needed another furlong or so to have enough momentum to take home the $5 million purse.
After a disappointing run during the three-part race towards the Triple Crown, Smith gets a little bit of vindication after the conclusion of this weekend. He'll keep the loss at Belmont in the back of his mind, but trainers everywhere will be excited to get him back out to the Breeders' Cup in 2013 so he can pile on to his new record.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and the Dallas Mavericks page, as well as a member of the site's Breaking News Team.
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