Cindy's Horse Racing Website Index

Big Cap Weekend

Southern Image winner of the 2004 Santa Anita Handicap.
Date: 03/07/2004

Santa Anita was again the spotlight track this weekend, headlined by the meet's signature race, the $1 million Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. This 1 1/4 mile event on the main track drew a field of eight older horses, including one filly, Island Fashion.

Southern Image out front with second place finisher Island Fashion 1 1/4 lengths behind.
As expected, speedster and 24-1 longshot Toccet was sent to the lead by jockey Emile Ramsammy, and while dueling with the 44-1 longest shot Royal Place, rattled off quick early fractions of 23.04, 46.30, and 1:10.34 before weakening on the second turn and dropping back to an eventual fifth place finish. Even-money favorite Southern Image did not disappoint his backers. Stalking the quick pace to the inside back in fourth early on, he took over on the far turn, got 1 1/2 lengths clear, and held on gamely in the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths over the late running filly and 7-1 shot Island Fashion. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to 14-1 longshot Saint Buddy. 9-2 second choice Olmodavor finished fourth. The running time was 2:01.64 over the fast track. Southern Image is the only horse to win two $1 million races at the same Santa Anita meet as he also won the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 24. Results Chart

Victor Espinoza aboard Southern Image.
Winning trainer Mike Machowsky said, "He had it all the hard way today. Victor (jockey Espinoza) had to get out of there and he got tested today. I know the time wasn't the best time in the word but he never had a breather. I don't know what we'll do from here. I'm just going to relax tonight."

Winning jockey Victor Espinoza, winning his first Santa Anita Handicap and second stakes of the day, said, "It's tough when you ride these kind of horses (laughing). But everything felt good. He's a big-hearted horse and he's all about running. He feels and he looks like all of the big horses I've been riding, like War Emblem, horses that don't want to get beat. I've known this horse from the beginning. I started riding him when he was young. I have a great time with him. I give a lot of credit to the horse and the trainer and maybe 10 percent at the most to me."

Island Fashion and Kent Desormeaux return after their second place finish in the Big Cap.
Marcelo Polanco, trainer of second place finisher Island Fashion, said, "She ran great. I'm very proud of her. Outside of not winning, the race went pretty much the way I thought, as far as strategy. I'm not afraid of anybody. I'm very happy. During the week they (media) questioned me for running against the males but I have so much faith in her, they didn't believe me."

Tyler Baze, aboard third place finish Saint Buddy, said, "He proved to me he could run today. At the five-eighths pole I said I've got a chance to get out right now, let's get to the outside, so we'll be able to run. When we were in the Strub I had to pull him up all the way down the lane and never had a chance to run. We went six, seven wide around the turn today which probably cost us a length. But it's better that I had chance to let him run today rather than sit inside and maybe not get through again."

Imperialism just gets up on the outside of Lion Heart to win the San Rafael by a neck.
The first stakes on Big Cap day, was the Grade 2 San Rafael for the 3-year-old Triple Crown hopefuls. Imperialism was a narrow winner over favorite Lion Heart in this race. Full coverage and lots of pictures are available here along with the Louisiana Derby. Results Chart

On the undercard of the "Big Cap" was the Grade 2 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap, a one mile turf event for older horses with a $350,000 purse. A full field of fourteen faced the starter, with Buckland Manor sent off as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite.

The longest shot on the board, Roch N Rosh at 87-1, set the early pace of 22.84, 45.55, and 1:09.84 over the firm turf course, with favored Buckland Manor staying close behind. Turning for the stretch drive, Rock N Rush weakened badly as the rest of the field passed him. 9-1 shot Designed For Luck came four wide into the stretch from sixth place, gained position down the lane, and got the lead a furlong out. 10-1 shot Sweet Return, chasing the pace in seventh early, took a five wide path around the turn, rallied well down the center of the course and prevailed by 1/2 a length over another closer, Singletary. It was two lengths back to 6-1 shot Inesperado. Favored Buckland Manor was well placed early but lacked a rally and finished sixth. The time for the mile event was 1:33.87. Results Chart

Sweet Return and Gary Stevens return to the winner's circle after the Frank E. Kilroe Mile.

Winning jockey Gary Stevens aboard Sweet Return said, "I didn't know if it would be possible from the fourteen hole, but we got a nice spot going into the first turn and I was able to save some ground. He relaxed some for me and then came home like a powerhouse. It was unbelievable, just a great trip. "

Winning trainer Ron McAnally said, "Gary's (Stevens) the greatest. We discussed strategy in the paddock and we were both on the same channel. He figured the race out the way I did, which was just the way it worked out."

Capping off the big weekend of stakes action at Santa Anita was the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap, a seven furlong sprint for older horses with a $150,000 purse on Sunday. Ten went to post with Bluesthestandard sent off as the 8-5 favorite.

Pico Central winning the San Carlos Handicap at 43-1.
The second longest shot on the board, Pico Central at 43-1, went right for the lead dueling with Casas Caballo and Captain Squire through an initial quarter in 22.24 and a half in 44.06. Turning for home, jockey David Flores asked him for run and got it. Pico Central pulled away from his pursuers, stretching his lead to 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go, easily holding off the late charge of 5-1 third choice Publication by two lengths. It was another two lengths back to 15-1 shot Pohave. Favorite Bluesthestandard chased the pace in sixth early on, but had nothing left for a late run and finished seventh. The final time was 1:21.16 over a fast track, and the winning payoff of $88.40 is the second highest in stakes history.

Winning trainer Paulo Lobo
Winning trainer Paulo Lobo said, "He's a very good horse. He won two Group 1's in Brazil. We told David [Flores] to try to relax in second or third, but he came first. He's a very talented horse. He arrived here (in the U.S.) last August."

Winning jockey David Flores said, "I saw his last race and he showed a lot of speed. I was just trying to get him relaxed, because in his first race he was much faster than the rest of the field. I got a good hold of him and had control of him the first quarter of a mile, and that breather gave him a little help. He was pretty strong most of the way, pulling, and showed good strength."

Winning jockey David Flores
Kent Desormeaux, aboard second place finisher Publication, said "He ran a winning race. Unfortunately there was one that ran one, too. He ran too good to lose. I'm sad for the horse that he doesn't have the win under his belt, it's too bad." Trainer Vladimir Cerin added, "He made up so much ground. I'm just super-happy with the way he ran. He's definitely a legitimate horse."

Mike Smith, aboard beaten favorite Bluesthestandard, said "He was in the right spot I thought, a good spot around the turn. I didn't like being in the one hole, but for being in there I thought I got a really good spot, right behind the winner, traveling over the same ground, and was able to get through in between them. He just didn't kick on today."

Photos courtesy of Tina Hines.

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