BACK AT SANTA ANITA, BOURBON BAY IS 5-FOR-5 AS HE GAINS REVENGE ON RUNNER-UP CHAMP PEGASUS IN SAN MARCOS

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 17, 2011) – Bourbon Bay, unbeatable in four turf marathons including three Grade II fixtures at Santa Anita last season, avenged a subsequent Hollywood Park setback at the hands of rising star Champ Pegasus Monday when returning “home” to dispatch his better fancied nemesis by 1 ¾ lengths in Santa Anita’s 59th running of the Grade II, $150,000 San Marcos Handicap.

With regular rider Rafael Bejarano at the controls, 5-2 second choice Bourbon Bay overtook 8-5 Champ Pegasus and jockey Joel Rosario in midstretch. Champ Pegasus tried to fight back, but the outcome had become all but decided. Bourbon Bay, thus maintained his perfection over the Santa Anita grass as the winning skein reached five races that now included four Grade II competitions.

Champ Pegasus had wrested the lead from front-running Marlang, Bourbon Bay’s stablemate in Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale’s barn, rounding the far turn. Meanwhile, Bourbon Bay took dead aim. Champ Pegasus wound up 1 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place Sebastian Flyte, ridden by Garrett Gomez, in the field of eleven.

“I was pretty comfortable the whole way,” said Bejarano, “and I was in a great position (third). When I saw No. 5 (Marlang) get sent a little bit, I decided to follow him. I knew the No. 5 was a very tough horse, that’s why I had to keep my horse close to him and make one big run in the last furlong.

“When I saw the favorite (Champ Pegasus) was let go from the three-eighths pole, I thought that he (Rosario) didn’t have as much horse as I had. As soon as I got the opportunity, I tried to get the first jump in the stretch and just let my horse go. My horse ran a really good race.”

Bourbon Bay paid $7.80, $3.80 and $3 while the return on Champ Pegasus was $2.80 and $2.40. Sebastian Flyte paid $3.60 to show.

Champ Pegasus had won 3 of his previous 4 starts when he first encountered Bourbon Bay in Oak Tree’s Grade I Clement L Hirsch Stakes on Oct. 30. Bourbon Bay had been on the sidelines for nearly seven months. He was the 2-1 second choice behind 17-10 favored Champ Pegasus.

The late developing son of Fusaichi Pegasus scored by three-quarters of a length over longshot Where’s the Remote with Bourbon Bay winding up another quarter-length back in third. “It was a race he really needed,” Bejarano would comment.

While Champ Pegasus went on to run a bang-up second to Great Britain’s Dangerous Midge in the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6, Bourbon Bay went back to the sidelines. “He became sick,” said Drysdale. “We don’t know why or what made him ill, but it took him a long time to recover.”

And recover he did, while providing Drysdale with his fourth San Marcos victory. The 5-year-old gelded son of Sligo Bay earned $90,000 for owners David and Jill Heerensperger. His total earnings reached $509,424 from a record of 6-2-3 in 15 starts.

Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella offered little excuse for Champ Pegasus. “He just ran out of training at the eighth pole,” quipped Mandella.

Indian Winter, at 10-1 the longest price among seven entrants, wore down front-running City Cool in the closing strides to capture Monday’s 19th running of the $80,600 San Pedro Stakes for 3-year-olds by one-half length while negotiating 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.23.

Trained by co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden by Martin Pedroza, Indian Winter was making his first start since Sept. 8 when dead-heating for third 7 ¾ lengths behind victorious JP’s Gusto in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity. His only previous start had resulted in a maiden win over well-regarded Jaycito at Del Mar on Aug. 21.

Hollendorfer had the son of Indian Charlie fit and ready for his return. He rallied from 2 ½ lengths behind in fifth to overtake City Cool, with Joe Talamo aboard, at the sixteenth pole. Indian Winter paid $22 for the victory.

“I just wanted to be close to the pace,” said Pedroza. “Most horses here don’t seem to be coming from so far out of it, so I just wanted to be within striking distance. I was comfortable being three, four or five lengths off the pace. At the end my horse got a little tired, but he wanted to get the job done.”

City Cool gamely held second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place Sinai with Bejarano in the saddle. Previously unbeaten speedster Arcadian, a Turf Paradise import ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, went off as the 5-2 favorite following a surge of late wagering action. After pressing the early pace of City Cool, Arcadian finished sixth.

Indian Winter’s second win in three starts was worth $48,360 for Hollendorfer, Peter Abruzzo and John Carver. It increased the earnings of the $125,000 auction purchase to $100,860.

Santa Anita will be dark on Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the resumption of racing on Thursday with an eight-race program that begins at 1 p.m.

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