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LUCKY PRIMO SHOWS VERSATILITY & GAMENESS IN TAKING CAL CUP CLASSIC UNDER COMBACKING BAZE, PRESSES PACE AND FINISHES 1 1/16 MILES IN RAPID 1:42.05 AS SANTA ANITA HOSTS 23RD ANNUAL STATEBRED FESTIVAL
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 13, 2012)—Lucky Primo, fresh off a nightmarish trip on turf at Del Mar, pressed the pace in Saturday’s $175,000 Lava Man California Cup Classic and finished resolutely under comebacking jockey Tyler Baze, getting the 1 1/16 mile marquee event for Cal Breds in a rapid 1:42.05, winning by a half-length in his first-ever victory on natural dirt.
The Classic, for 3-year-olds and up, was carded as the ninth race and was one of six statebred stakes on Saturday’s 10-race program, attracting a field of seven.
“He trains well on synthetic over at Hollywood (Park), but he’s run on this dirt course last year a couple times,” said trainer Joshua Litt, who is also the co-breeder and co-owner of the 6-year-old Atticus gelding. “He ran good…He handles everything pretty much. I think he’s probably best on grass but he handles anything.”
For Baze, who was recently reinstated after a year-plus absence due to a failed Breathalyzer test at Del Mar in August, 2011, the Classic was his first stakes win since returning to the saddle on Oct. 5.
“At this stage of my career I’m definitely appreciating things more, especially the ( horses) everybody’s giving me right now,” said Baze, who was America’s Eclipse Award winning apprentice jockey in 2000, and who will turn 30 on Oct. 19. “I’ve got a whole lot of live horses people have been putting me on and it’s just a blessing.”
With 7-5 favorite John Scott looming menacingly off the turn for home, Lucky Primo, who had sat second behind longshot Got Even through splits of 23.97, 47.59 and 1:11.47, took command turning for home and got the interior mile in 1:35.72 while finishing in extra game fashion.
He paid $11.80, $7.80 and $4.60. With the Classic winner’s share of $105,000, Lucky Primo boosted his career earnings to $437,616 from an overall mark of 16-6-3-3. He is owned by Litt’s brother Jason, who also co-bred the gelding, and JBK Stable.
Got Even, ridden by Brice Blanc, held on gamely, outrunning John Scott by three-quarters of a length. Off at 40-1, he paid $29.60 and $9.80.
The favorite, who was ridden by Victor Espinoza, appeared to have the front runners measured off the turn for home, but couldn’t muster the necessary rally, finishing third, one length in front of top 3-year-old Rousing Sermon, who was ridden by Rafael Bejarano. John Scott paid $3.60 to show.
In the $250,000 Bob Benoit Cal Cup Juvenile, which was the day’s fifth race, trainer John Sadler ran one-two with Monument and Ballard Ruler. Monument, a 2-year-old colt by Cindago, won by 2 ¾ lengths and although he won easily, he was very erratic late under Martin Garcia and nearly brushed the inner rail inside the sixteenth pole.
Monument sat second to Strong Wind and Joe Talamo, who set fractions of 22.83, 46.72, 1:10.72 and 1:37.70 Monument took the lead inside the eighth pole and got the 1 1/16 miles in l:44.84.
Bred in California by Lee and Susan Searing and owned by their CRK Stable, Monument banked $137,500 for his win, boosting his earnings to $195,500, from a 4-3-1-0 mark.
“He was back and forth today,” said Garcia. “I think he looked too much at the people in the grandstands. I had a lot of horse, that’s why he had time to look around. This was the first time he’s run at a distance, and it looks like he likes it.”
Sadler was quick to acknowledge the man for whom the Juvenile is named.
“I want to recognize Bob Benoit, who was as good a guy as there was to have at a racetrack in California,” said Sadler. “I want to say hello to Lee and Susan (who, according to Sadler, are vacationing in Napa, Calif). This horse is a true homebred. This is really exciting.”
Monument paid $12.00, $5.80 and $4.80. Ballard Ruler, who bobbled at the break with Joel Rosario, split horses in deep stretch and was up for the place, three-quarters of a length in front of Star Rocker and Mario Gutierrez. Ballard Ruler paid $5.80 and $4.20. Star Rocker paid $6.80 to show.
The first division of the $100,000 John Deere Cal Cup Distaff, for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course, was run as sixth race and was taken by 7-2 favorite Tiz Flirtatious, who mounted a furious stretch rally under Joel Rosario, winning by 1 ¾ lengths and getting the distance in 1:11.70.
“She’s a pretty nice filly,” said Rosario, who was in to ride on Saturday from his New York base. “I’ve rode her before and she acted really good last time I rode her. Today she was really relaxed and she covered a lot of ground when I asked her to run.”
Trained by Marty Jones, the 4-year-old filly by Tizbud is owned by her breeder, Pamela C. Ziebarth. She paid $9.20, $5.80 and $3.60. With the winner’s share of $60,000, Tiz Flirtatious boosted her bankroll to $194,800 as she notched her fourth win in just five starts.
Best Present Ever, also off at 7-2, was the second choice in the Distaff wagering under Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze. The 3-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat put a head in front in deep stretch, but ended up second, three-quarters of a length in front of Unusual Hottie. Best Present Ever paid $5.40 and $3.00.
Unusual Hottie, ridden by Garrett Gomez, finished well and paid $3.00 to show.
The $100,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint, for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs, was carded as race seven and it went to longshot Maui Mark and Garrett Gomez, paying $19.00, $10.20 and $6.80.
Maui Mark, a 7-year-old gelding by Unusual Heat who had been idle since running poorly at Saratoga on July 25, rallied five-wide in deep stretch to prevail by one-half length, getting the distance in 1:09.03.
“It wasn’t the smoothest of trips,” said Gomez. “Once I got him lined up and started focusing on making some kind of run, I pointed him where I wanted to go and his confidence started growing because he knew he was getting out from behind the dirt. He made a huge run and finished up well.”
Maui Mark is trained by Bob Hess Jr. and is owned by Michael Carter and Charles Galea. Off at odds of 8-1, he paid $19.00, $10.20 and $6.80. With the winner’s share of $60,000, he boosted his earnings to $364,568 from a 26-10-0-6 record.
Ain’t No Other finished willingly under Rafael Bejarano at 5-1 and paid $6.20 and $4.40. Joe Talamo and 21-1 shot Obsess dueled inside through splits of 21.52, 44.00 and 56.26, and finished a game third, 1 ¼ lengths behind the second-place finisher. Obsess paid $8.00 to show.
Derby Gold, the 8-5 favorite in the 10-horse field, made the early lead with Martin Garcia, but was a pace casualty, finishing seventh, beaten 4 ¼ lengths by the winner.
The second division of the $100,000 John Deere Cal Cup Distaff was carded as race eight and it attracted a field of nine fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf.
The Mike Puype-trained Bella Viaggia, off at 9-1 with Joe Talamo, sat close to the pace and won easily by two lengths, getting the distance in 1:12.02. A 3-year-old filly by Good Journey, Bella Viaggia tried the turf for the first time Saturday and registered her third consecutive win.
Although he had never ridden her in the afternoon, Talamo was well acquainted with Bella Viaggia.
“Before she actually ran I worked her about seven or eight times so I was very familiar with her,” said Talamo. “We had a great trip. Mike had her ready to go today. The rail opened up good and we just shot through.”
Owned by SLO Racing Stable, Bella Viaggia sat just off early splits of 21.88 and 43.69. She took the lead entering the stretch, with six furlongs timed in 1:05.83. She paid $21.40, $9.60 and $6.40.
“She has a great future,” said Puype. “When horses want to win like that, and they come out running, those are seasoned horses…Let me tell you, she works on this main track like no other. She runs on synthetic too, and trains on the dirt better than both of them so I think I can go anywhere where there’s a race.”
With three wins and a second from four starts, Bella Viaggia added $60,000 to her bank account, boosting it to $155,000.
Missdealornodeal loomed boldly off the turn but had to settle for second with Kevin Krigger up, 1 ¼ lengths in front of Cayanna and Mario Gutierrez. Missdealornodeal paid $21.40, $9.60 and $6.40. Cayanna, off at 13-1, paid $5.80 to show.
The Keith E. Card Cal Cup Juvenile Fillies was carded as the day’s 10th race and it produced a formful result, as 2-1 favorite Tilde and Rafael Bejarano prevailed by a half-length in the field of ten 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, getting the distance in 1:45.56.
Owned and bred by trainer Mike Harrington and his wife, Patricia, Tilde, a daughter of Swiss Yodeler, exited consecutive stakes wins at Del Mar and was trying two turns for the first time on Saturday.
“I was concerned about the distance, but I thought her heart would carry her through and it did,” said Harrington. “She’s a really, really game filly, but she showed that to me at Del Mar, which is really interesting…I wasn’t real excited about the job I did coming into this race and she still won. It just goes to show you good horses will overcome their trainers.”
Tilde, who drew post position nine, was hustled from the gate by Bejarano and was three-wide around the Club House turn.
“When I found my position, I just tried to get her comfortable and not rush her too much,” said Bejarano. “As soon as I came to the stretch I let her go and she came running. She was flying in the end. This is a good filly. She’s getting better. This was her first time at a distance and I had so much horse in the end.”
Tilde stalked fractions of 22.48, 46.56, 1:12.28 and 1:38.77. She paid $6.20, $4.40 and $3.20. With the winner’s purse of $137,500, she increased her earnings to $332,560 from a 5-4-0-1 mark.
Doinghardtimeagain, with Martin Garcia, sat second early and made the lead midway around the far turn, but ended up second-best at 13-1. She paid $11.00 and $6.80. Cotton’s Point and Mike Smith came running from far back and finished third, 5 ¼ lengths behind the second-place finisher, and paid $6.00 to show.
There is a 50 cent Pick 5 carryover at Santa Anita on Sunday of $207,240, and it is expected Sunday’s total pool will exceed $1.5 million.
First post time for the nine-race card is 1 p.m.