Breeders' Cup Classic 2018 winner, final results: Accelerate wins 35th running at Churchill Downs

The anticipated culmination of horse racing season arrived on Saturday at Churchill Downs, and it did with Accelerate bursting through the finish line in first at the 2018 Breeders' Cup Classic.

Mendelssohn, a familiar name from the Triple Crown circuit earlier in the year, rounded the turn ahead of the pack in what's long been deemed the Super Bowl of horse racing. But it was Accelerate, an early favorite for Saturday's showcase ahead of Bob Baffert-trained picks like West Coast, who pulled away down the stretch for his first victory at the Classic -- and the first event win for trainer John Sadler.

Jockeyed by Joel Rosario, Accelerate had some trouble getting into his gate before the big race but sped through the track when it mattered, delivering national prominence to a duo in Sadler and Rosario who rarely see the spotlight. A strong first furlough aided the victorious run, with Rosario guiding Accelerate from a wide draw and overtaking Mendelssohn later in the race.

A whopping $6 million was at stake in the race, a year-end showcase held in 2018 at the home of the Kentucky Derby.

The Derby may draw more eyes, but the Breeders' Cup Classic has long been one of the richest races in thoroughbred competition, if not the premier event of the sport -- the fourth and final leg of the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing after the American Triple Crown circuit. Often featuring U.S. Horse of the Year candidates and notoriously more difficult to predict, the event began on Friday from Louisville with the first of 14 races.

Gunnevera finished in second behind Accelerate in Saturday night's Classic, with Thunder Snow rounding out the top three.

Final 2018 Breeders' Cup Classic results

1. Accelerate
2. Gunnevera
3. Thunder Snow
4. Yoshida
5. Mendelssohn
6. Lone Sailor
7. West Coast
8. Discreet Loved
9. Axelrod
10. Pavel
11. Mind Your Biscuits
12. McKinzie
13. Catholic Boy
14. Roaring Lion

Live 2018 Breeders' Cup updates

Relive all of Saturday's action by checking out our live blog from the day:

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