By Mark Lamport-Stokes
ARCADIA, California, Nov 1 (Reuters) - The 2013 Breeders' Cup opened its $27 million two-day programme on Friday with a superb victory by Beholder, a disappointing run by the fancied Royal Delta and more record wins for veteran jockey Mike Smith.
Beholder totally upstaged favourite Royal Delta in Friday's feature race, the $2 million Distaff, as the three-year-old filly took control by the final turn before charging down the home straight to win by four and one-quarter lengths.
Close Hatches finished second with Authenticity third while Royal Delta, an overwhelming 7-5 favourite when she entered the starting gate, ended up fourth out of six runners after fading badly at a sun-drenched Santa Anita Park.
"She didn't have it today. No spark, man," said Hall of Fame jockey Smith, who had stretched his record career total of Breeders' Cup wins to 19 earlier in the day.
"She usually takes the race to somebody, but not today. I thought when Beholder come up to her, she would pick it up, but she didn't. I asked and I asked and nothing.
"But I can't be disappointed (with my day) and we've got a bunch of good ones tomorrow."
The 48-year-old Smith had extended his record number of Breeders' Cup victories by winning the first two events of the day on a five-race card, both with rousing finishes.
In front of a crammed grandstand in glorious afternoon sunshine at Santa Anita, he piloted New York-bred London Bridge to victory on dirt in the $500,000 Marathon after a strong surge from the outside down the home straight.
London Bridge, who was recently sold to Waratah Thoroughbreds in Australia, prevailed by a length over Blueskiesnrainbows, who finished a neck clear of Worldly.
"He just had to work really hard," Smith said of London Bridge. "He was never really sure of the dirt. The change in his shoes made a big difference, but even with that he was never really confident.
"I had to keep riding him at times, taking a hold of him, riding him, trying to get him confident, but keep moving all at the same time ... he outlasted them."
Smith then added Breeders' Cup win number 19 in the next race, guiding British raider Outstrip to a spectacular come-from-behind victory in the $1 million Juvenile Turf.
Giovanni Boldini, with Ryan Moore on board, appeared to have the race won with a storming run from the final turn but Smith and Outstrip powered past with a blistering late surge to triumph by half a length.
"The trip was really good. I managed to get covered up, just make my way, and follow the right horses," said Smith.
"I was following two of the greatest turf riders here in America, Gary Stevens and Corey Nakatani. They showed me a great way to go, and it really worked out for me."
Kentucky-bred Goldencents, piloted by Rafael Bejarano, made a fast start out of the gate and led the rest of the way to win the $1 million Dirt Mile by two and three-quarter lengths over Golden Ticket.
"I know how good this horse has trained," Bejarano said after fending off an early challenge from Broadway Empire to earn trainer Doug O'Neill his first win at the 30th Breeders' Cup.
"He broke so good from the gate, but the six horse wanted to go into the lead and put pressure on me. I made sure (Goldencents) got clear and then at the three-eighths pole, I knew what he would do."
In the showpiece event, Beholder took the Distaff honours with a superb performance that 50-year-old jockey Stevens had always felt was possible based on her recent form.
"I know we were third (morning line) favourite going into it, but I felt like it was our race to lose the way she had been training and coming off of her last race," said Stevens.
The top three-year-old filly on the West Coast, Beholder had previously won four times this season, including grade I victories in the Santa Anita Oaks and the Zenyatta Stakes on Sept. 28.
"I actually had a smile on my face going around the first turn," said Steven, who retired from racing in late 2005 before making a comeback this year.
"It's how every workout has been devised.
"The workout two weeks ago, if anybody had seen it, was a thing of beauty.
"She's the most intelligent animal that I've ever been around. She listens. There was never a bit of panic from her." (Editing by Greg Stutchbury)