White Abarrio won the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Saturday, cementing trainer Rick Dutrow's return to racing in the wake of a 10-year suspension for medication violations.
UAE Derby winner Derma Sotogake was second, coming up short in a bid to become the first Japanese horse to capture the Classic. Proxy was third.
"It's incredible," said Dutrow, who notched a second Classic victory after winning with Saint Liam at Belmont Park in 2005.
Dutrow guided Big Brown to wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2008, but in 2011 he was suspended for numerous violations of medication and administrative rules. He appealed and began serving the suspension in 2013, returning to the sport earlier this year.
"Incredible stuff I'm going through right now," Dutrow said after watching Irad Ortiz Jr. pilot White Abarrio to victory over a Classic field noticeably lacking in star power.
White Abarrio broke cleanly from the third post and settled in behind early pace-setters Arabian Knight and Saudi Crown.
Arabian Knight trainer Bob Baffert had admitted an early speed duel with Saudi Crown was a danger for his lightly raced horse, but Arabian Knight shot to the front out of the gate and stayed there, Saudi Crown running second until the far turn.
White Abarrio, sent off as the 5-2 favorite, made his move and seized the lead in the top of the final straight, Derma Sotogake rallying under jockey Christophe Lemaire to take second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Proxy.
"Everything came out perfect," said Ortiz, who claimed a second Classic win and his 19th Breeders' Cup victory.
"We handicapped that race perfectly as we thought Saudi Crown and Arabian Knight would be on the lead and we should be third.
"I saved all the ground on the first turn and then I was able to get in the clear on the backside. After that, it was all about the horse.
"To be honest, I just let him do his thing and I don't get in his way."
Lemaire said he couldn't fault Derma Sotogake.
"He was fighting at the end," Lemaire said. "He proved today he was at that level. The winner was in front of us and a little sharper today on the backstretch. That's racing."