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Ramon Vazquez celebrates aboard Practical Move after winning the Santa Anita Derby
Part 2 - Charlie Whittingham (G2), Monrovia (G2), and Echo Eddie Stakes
The major California prep race for the Triple Crown is the $750,000 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles over the Santa Anita main track just 4 weeks before the Run for the Roses, and worth 100 points to the winner as part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. Conditions were excellent for the 31,289 fans in attendance at the historic Arcadia oval, with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70's. A field of 8 went to post with Practical Move sent off as the even-money favorite off wins in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) and San Felipe Stakes (G2). In to challenge him included 5-2 second choice National Treasure, third in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and Sham Stakes (G3), and 7-2 third choice Skinner, third in the San Felipe.
Practical Move leads in the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Practical Move Vazquez 4.00 3.00 2.20 8 Mandarin Hero Kimura 6.60 4.00 7 Skinner Espinoza 2.60 Winning Time: 1:48.69 $1 Exacta 5-8 15.10 $1 Trifecta 5-8-7 54.20 $1 Superfecta 5-8-7-6 100.80
Left: Practical Move in the winner's circle. Winning co-owner Jean Pierre Amestoy Jr. said, "We were a little worried that he didn't get through early enough, but he finally made it through. He opened up a little bit, but those are good horses. They came up to him in the end but he was tough enough. Got his head in front and won the race. I think we are confident. I think we will catch the distance and he's proven he's a fighter, he's a winner, so we're going to go to Kentucky with our heads high and hope to bring the trophy back to this side of the country."
Right: Practical Move in the paddock. Winning jockey Ramon Vazquez said, "I made the move a little early because I saw (Hector) Berrios (aboard One in Vermillion) look at me from the inside. I knew he wanted to put me inside a little bit tight, so I just moved my horse to the outside take a new position., made him relax a little bit and when I asked him the last quarter he responded really well. I'm feeling amazing. When you ride a good horse like that, that's your dream always to go to the Kentucky Derby." Winning trainer Tim Yakteen added, "It's a great feeling to go back-to-back in this race. The rush you get—that's why you get in the game! You're calling wire when you're on the lead, and you're looking for more when you're closing ground."
Left: Second place finisher Mandarin Hero in the post parade. Trainer Terunobu Fujita said, "We're going to the Kentucky Derby! I'm so proud of him. I thought he would not handle the early pace, but he did. I believed he would have a good acceleration in the final stretch as usual. And he did it. Kazushi Kimura gave a really good ride. He made him accelerate at the final stretch. I thought he was going to win. I'm just so excited right now."
Right: Third place finisher Skinner in the paddock. The John Shirreffs trainee improved his record to 1 win, 0 seconds, and 3 thirds in 6 starts, earning $216,300 for owner C R K Stable.
Closing out the stakes action, the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1) featured eight 3-year-old fillies (after Princess Bettina scratched) going 1 1/16 miles with the winner earning 100 points as part of the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series. Undefeated Faiza was sent off as the 4-5 favorite off wins in the Las Virgenes (G3) and Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3), however, since she is trained by Bob Baffert she is not eligible to earn points for nor run in the Kentucky Oaks. In to challenge her included 5-2 second choice Clearly Unhinged off her debut win on February 5, and 5-1 third choice Window Shopping, a maiden winner at second asking last out by 16 1/2 lengths.
Jockey Armando Aguilar sent 91-1 longest shot Gila loose on the lead through fractions of 22.49 and 46.01 while stalked by Clearly Unhinged, Faiza, and 20-1 Venganza. On the far turn Gila tired badly allowing Clearly Unhinged to inherit the lead through 3/4 in 1:12.25. Entering the stretch, jockey Flavien Prat sent Faiza to take over through 1 mile in 1:36.56. Kept to task by Prat, Faiza drew off late to win by 6 1/2 lengths over late-running 6-1 fourth choice And Tell Me Nolies in 1:43.27. It was another 1/2 length back to Window Shopping third.
Left: Faiza in the winner's circle. Winning owner Michael Lund Petersen said, "I'm very excited. Five out of five that's more than you ever dream about. It's very nice being on day like this and winning a race. It makes it all worth it. There's a reason why I have my horses with (Bob Baffert) he is the best horse trainer in the world." Winning jockey Flavien Prat said, "She keeps improving race after race. Baffert and I felt she was going to have a good run today, and she absolutely did! She jumped well out of the gate and got into a good position, and from there got the job done."
Right: Faiza returns after the race. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "She was really feeling it today. I could tell, she's been really quiet and today she was on her toes. She was coming into the race perfectly. The track today is fast and they are just bouncing over it. I worked her on this kind of track and it was probably one of her best works ever. She's getting better and better and improving. Prat has always told me she does just enough to get by, I told him she would do more today. I've never seen her so sharp. Michael Lund has been a great supporter of mine. We had Gamine and he's gotten spoiled now with Faiza. It's good to have her in the mix."
Left: Second place finisher And Tell Me Nolies in the paddock before the race. Jockey Ramon Vazquez said, "I rode my race. I wanted to win, but I wanted to teach her to get dirt in her face." Vazquez said she handled the kickback "very well"
Right: Third place finisher Window Shopping in the post parade. The Richard Mandella trainee improved her record to 1 win, 0 seconds, and 1 third in 3 starts, earning $88,700 for owners Perry and Ramona Bass.
Kicking off the Saturday stakes sextet was the $150,000 Evening Jewel Stakes featuring a field of 5 California bred or sired 3-year-old fillies sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track. Ceiling Crusher was sent off as the 3-10 favorite over 9-2 second choice Tom's Regret and 5-1 third choice Absolutely Zero.
Jockey Abel Cedillo sent Tom's Regret to the lead out of the chute through an opening quarter of 21.78 before Ceiling Crusher took over on the far turn through a half in 43.98. Kept to task by Juan Hernandez, Ceiling Crusher powered away through the lane to win by 15 1/2 lengths over Tom's Regret in 1:15.18. It was another 3/4 length back to 14-1 Cholly third.
Ceiling Crusher in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Doug O'Neill said, "I got to thank (owners Tim Kasparoff, Todd Cady and Ty Leatherman) for being so patient. After her last win we decided to give her a little time off and point to this race, generally it never works out, but they were so patient and took the time. That (performance) really was breathtaking." Jockey Juan Hernandez added, "All the credit to my filly, she's really great! Doug brought her ready to win today. She was really calm and professional prior to the race and then out of the gate, she broke quickly. I was trying to get her to go slow, but she was ready to run and win this race."
On to Part 2 - Charlie Whittingham (G2), Monrovia (G2), and Echo Eddie Stakes
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