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Last Updated: 03/11/13 8:30am
A stunned Gary Stevens reacts to Mucho Macho Man's win in the Classic
Mucho Macho Man registered an emotional victory in a pulsating Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.
Winning trainer Kathy Ritvo, a heart transplant survivor, became the first woman to train the winner of the race while success also capped a remarkable comeback for the man in the saddle, Gary Stevens.
He needed all his experience to nurse the five-year-old home as he was challenged by Will Take Charge and Declaration Of War in a thrilling final furlong.
The line came in the nick of time for Mucho Macho Man with Will Take Charge closing fast. A nose separated the pair at the line with Declaration Of War only a head away in third.
Stevens said: "This is a dream come true. I've always said this was the one race missing from my career. I didn't think I'd get one, and I sure didn't think it would come in 2013."
Ritvo said: "I'm happier for my horse. He deserves it. When Gary (Stevens) waved the stick, I figured he won. He got a great trip. Gary did a fantastic job. When he used 'Macho,' 'Macho' showed up. He is a good horse. I'm excited. If I didn't have the support of my family, I wouldn't be here."
The trainer of the runner-up, Wayne Lukas, said: "It's a heartbreak to lose one like that. He was after him, closed on him and did everything right."
Will Take Charge's jockey, Luis Saez, said: "We had a good trip. Every time I ride this horse he's always very steady early in the race, when you turn for home, he's a totally different horse. In the stretch, the 8 horse (Palace Malice) drifted out a bit and that forced me even wider and yes, it probably cost me the race."
Aidan O'Brien said of Declaration Of War, who will now be retired: "It was a fantastic run, and it just goes to show how tough it is in the Classic. All credit to the lads for sending him over here.
"He jumped well. Joseph got a good position on the turn and he fought all the way to the line at the end. It was an incredible run and we are delighted.
"I thought Joseph did everything perfectly, it was a copybook ride really and the horse still kept coming and coming at the end.
"To do that on his first run on dirt was fantastic, but he is off to stud now and will make some stallion. He's one of the best-looking horses I've ever trained. He has speed, together with strength, which are great assets, as well as a fine constitution. All these things will serve him well when he takes up stallion duties."
Joseph O'Brien said: "He's run a great race. It took him about a furlong to settle and then he got into a lovely rhythm. I had to wait a little bit for the gap to come at the head of the stretch, but he ran on really well and I have no complaints."