VETERAN PEDROZA ‘TURNS THE TRICK’ AS CELESTIC NIGHT TAKES THE BUDDY GIL AT ODDS OF 13-1, THREE WINNING PICK SIX TIX AT SANTA ANITA & VIEJAS

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 13, 2011) – Celestic Night, the longest price in the field of six at 13-1 with Martin Pedroza aboard, ran down a pair of well-fancied imports from England Thursday to run away with Santa Anita’s $56,736 Buddy Gil Purse for 3-year-olds at 6 ½ furlongs over the track’s hillside turf course.

With Pedroza, who notched his eighth win of the young meeting employing what he described as “a little bit of a trick with him,” Celestic Night defeated pacesetter and 13-10 favorite Metropolitan Man by 2 ¼ lengths. Diamond Geezah, the latter’s fellow newcomer from Great Britain and 5-2 second choice, ran on for third in the optional claimer. The winning time was 1:13.14.

Pedroza recalled that he had gotten to know Celestic Night after riding him to victory in a minor stakes at Fairplex Park in September and while working him four days prior to Thursday’s feature.

“He really pulls hard,” Pedroza said. “If you can get him to relax the first quarter of a mile, he can be any kind of horse.” And the “trick” to getting him to remain comfortable? “I had him behind horses and he relaxed,” said the 45-year-old Panamanian native.

Celestic Night was last at the halfway mark as Metropolitan Man opened up a four-length lead under Patrick Valenzuela. Pedroza kept his mount “covered up” before finding an opening entering the stretch and then promptly took charge.

Trained by Neil French for Marco A. Gonzalez, Celestic Night rewarded his backers with mutuels of $28.80, $8 and $3.60. Metropolitan Man paid $3.80 and $2.40. The show price on Diamond Geezah, with Joe Talamo in the saddle, was $2.60.

The victory ended a three-race draught in stakes races for the Kentucky-bred son of Vindication after taking the C. B. Afflerbaugh at Fairplex. He was entered for an $80,000 claiming tag on Thursday, but was not haltered.

The winning purse of $33,600 elevated Celestic Night’s earnings to $80,800 from three wins in eight career starts.

The Buddy Gil was the fifth leg in Thursday’s Pick Six, which paid $25,606.60 There were three winning tickets—two were purchased at Santa Anita and one at Viejas Casino in San Diego County.

Racing will continue on Friday at Santa Anita with an eight-race program that gets underway at 1 p.m.

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