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Maryfield splashes to victory as rain inundates Monmouth
Associated Press
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Published: 10/27/2007 12:09 AM

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OCEANPORT, N.J. -- Trainer Doug O'Neill led a wild winner's celebration after Maryfield splashed to victory Friday on the first day of the Breeders' Cup, where upsets ruled and a trainer on the verge of suspension was in the spotlight.

Far back turning for home, Maryfield found an outside path to the finish line and won the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint.

Corinthian raced to a commanding upset in the $1 million Dirt Mile, and Nownownow edged wagering favorite Achill Island by a half-length in the $1 million Juvenile Turf.

Rain pelted Monmouth Park throughout the day, keeping hundreds of trackside seats and stands empty on the first Friday in Breeders' Cup history. The dirt surface, sloppy from rain earlier in the week, was a quagmire.

But that wasn't the only messiness.

Nownownow was one of seven Breeders' Cup horses that trainer Patrick Biancone turned over to assistant Francois Parisel as the result of a one-year ban for violating medication rules in Kentucky.

Biancone's suspension begins Nov. 1, but in a settlement with Kentucky racing officials, he agreed to step aside early for the Breeders' Cup. The Frenchman showed up in the barn area Thursday and was asked to leave by New Jersey racing authorities.

"Patrick Biancone is a friend of mine for 40 years," said Fabien Ouaki, who owns Nownownow. "We're a family, so it's a family victory. He's like a pingpong ball, he always rebounds. He will come back because he's a horseman from the beginning."

Nownownow and Julien Leparoux covered one mile in 1:40.48. The 2-year-old colt paid $27.20, $8.60 and $6.

Irish-bred Achill Island returned $5.20 and $4.20. Cannonball paid $7.80 to show.

Biancone had two horses in the Filly & Mare Sprint. Baroness Thatcher was fourth and wagering favorite La Traviata was sixth.

Corinthian defeated Gottcha Gold by 6½ lengths in the last of three Breeders' Cup races on the card. The other eight will be run Saturday.

Kent Desormeaux improved to 3-for-55 on racing's richest two days, guiding Corinthian over the mile in 1:39.06. The winner paid $9.40, $4.40 and $3.

Corinthian is trained by Jimmy Jerkens, son of Hall of Famer Allen Jerkins.

Discreet Cat, trying to recapture top form, finished third on a gloomy, sloppy day that only a mudder could love.

Jockeys strapped multiple goggles to their helmets, yanking down a set each time the view got too splattered. They dismounted with muck streaking their faces and silks.

In the Filly & Mare Sprint, jockey Elvis Trujillo angled Maryfied to the outside, where she had a clear run to the finish line without mud from her nine rivals hitting her in the face.

"Elvis Trujillo gets all the credit today," O'Neill said. "It was his first Breeders' Cup race and he handled the pressure like a seasoned pro."

Maryfield rallied from seventh place and defeated Miraculous Miss by a half-length, covering six furlongs in 1:09.89 and paying $18, $9 and $6 at 8-1 odds. A year ago, she won on the Breeders' Cup undercard at Churchill Downs.

O'Neill claimed the 6-year-old mare for $50,000 last year on behalf of three co-owners who didn't know each other until they were brought together by the Southern California-based trainer. A fourth partner owns 10 percent.

Miraculous Miss returned $37.40 and $17.20, while Miss Macy Sue was another 1½ lengths back in third and paid $4.60 to show.

O'Neill earned his third Breeders' Cup victory two months after enduring a double tragedy. Entertainer Merv Griffin, one of his biggest clients, died of prostate cancer in August. Two weeks later, the groom for Lava Man, the star of O'Neill's barn, lost his arm in an accident caused by a drunken driver.

The rain intensified as O'Neill's huge group crowded the winner's circle, whooping and cheering for the mare.

Todd Pletcher failed to win Friday with the first of his leading 11 Breeders' Cup entries. The Leopard was seventh in the Turf.

Six tractors dragging the surface after each race kicked up waves and wind whipped the infield flags. The dreary conditions made it difficult for 27,803 fans to spot the horses during the races. It got so dark that a spotlight was turned on the finish line for the final race.

"Save the weather, we couldn't be happier with the way things turned out," said Dennis Dowd of the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority.

Today's forecast was expected to be no better, with a half-inch of rain predicted and highs in the 60s for the eight Breeders' Cup races.