Ron the Greek, winner of last year's Santa Anita Handicap, came from off the pace to win Saturday's $400,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Bill Mott, Ron the Greek was the 3-1 second choice in the seven- horse field behind 2-5 favorite and defending winner Mucho Macho Man.
Mucho Macho Man, ridden by Mike Smith, was racing on the outside in third behind pacesetters I'm Steppin' It Up and Fort Loudon. Ron the Greek, with Jose Lezcano in the saddle, was fifth through the early going.
Ron the Greek began to advance around the final turn as Mucho Macho Man began to tire. Mott's horse moved into third coming out of the turn and took the lead at the top of the stretch.
Fourth in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, Ron the Greek drove down the stretch to post an 11 1/4-length victory over Cash Rules with Fort Loudon holding on to third.
"It was a good setup. He was a little closer than he normally is. We had asked (jockey Jose) Lezcano, if he could, to try to be a little closer," Mott noted. "I didn't expect him to be that close. I thought he might ride him away from there a little bit and the closest he'd be was 12-lengths. I guess they headed down the backside and he's five, six-lengths off the lead. It looked like he was in the bridle and running well. He put him in a drive and he shook loose, and the rest is history."
Atoned was fourth followed by Decaf Again and I'm Steppin' It Up. Mucho Macho Man was pulled up in the stretch.
"We're going to go back (to the barn) and check. He didn't fire or there's some problem," said Kathy Ritvo, trainer of Mucho Macho Man.
Ron the Greek covered the 1 1/8-miles in 1:49.19 on a sloppy track.
Ron the Greek added $240,000 to his earnings and recorded his eighth win in 23 career starts for $1.74 million. The 6-year-old is owned by Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable, and Jack T. Hammer.
Along with winning the Santa Anita Handicap in 2012, Ron the Greek captured the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs between seconds in the Oaklawn and Whitney Handicaps. Prior to the Breeders' Cup Classic, Ron the Greek finished sixth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup,
"He's run good on an off track before, however, he didn't run good on a sticky track in the Jockey Club. It was strange. He ran well today. He liked this. He didn't mind it," Mott said. "We're looking ahead and maybe try to repeat what we did last year, maybe go back to California for the Santa Anita Handicap and try to do that over again."
Ron the Greek returned $8.40, $4.20 and $4.40. Cash Rules paid $5.60 and $7.40, and Fort Loudon paid $9.00 to show.