All Along, 1983 Horse of the Year but without a victory in 1984, came a neck short of making her last race a glorious one. An obscure British colt named Lashkari prevented the coronation, overtaking her in the final five strides to win the $2 million Breeders' Cup turf race today at Hollywood Park.
Lashkari, a 53-1 long shot with only seven career starts and none as a 2-year-old, entered the race with one significant victory, France's Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris. But he closed with a flourish today under French champion Yves St. Martin to wrest victory from All Along and jockey Angel Cordero Jr.
He earned $900,000 for owner Aga Khan; he entered the race with career earnings of $56,594.
"The bloodlines of Aga Kahn's are such that they are late developers," Lashkari trainer Alain De Royer Dupre said through an interpreter. "They tend not to run so well during the summer but start getting good toward the end of the season."
Without any prerace instruction, St. Martin patiently kept Lashkari in the middle of the 11-horse field while Australia's Strawberry Road II set a mediocre pace.
Around the first turn, Strawberry Road II built a 1 1/2-length lead over Morcon and Treizieme. Alphabatim, Washington, D.C. International pacesetter, moved quickly along the rail into fourth place after being taken up at the start while Lashkari stayed inside All Along in sixth.
Strawberry Road II, ridden by Maryland's Donnie Miller in the International but replaced today with Bill Shoemaker, retained his advantage shortly beyond a mile before Cordero moved All Along past Morcon and abreast of the leader on the outside.
As they swung into the stretch, All Along raced to a one-length lead over tiring Strawberry Road II and appeared strong enough to hold off challengers.
But with less than a furlong to run, St. Martin was whipping Lashkari steadily and had him charging on the outside. He continued to use his stick as Lashkari caught the mare and pulled ahead in the final yards, finishing in 2:25 1/5.
Lashkari paid $108.80 to win, $33.40 to place and $16 to show. All Along paid $5.80 and $4.40 and Raami, which defeated Strawberry Road II by a half-length for third, paid $7.40.
"Before the race, I was a little apprehensive about the short turns here," St. Martin said. "It was the first time he's run in America. But he made the first turn okay, so I thought we had a good chance."
"I've dreamed of riding this horse," said Cordero, astride All Along for the first time. "She ran a hell of a race and I'm proud of her. But you've got to give credit to the other horse."
Although All Along could not redeem her three losses this year before retiring and becoming a broodmare, her final racing chapter is not without irony. She will be bred in England to Mill Reef.