California Recap

Anthony's Cross by a nose

With blinkers on the for first time Anthony’s Cross fended off Riveting Reason at the finish line to score a win in the GII Robert B. Lewis Stakes. (Replay)

Trainer Eoin Harty moved to blinkers for the race after seeing steady comfort during works prior to Saturday.  Jockey Joel Rosario positioned Anthony’s Cross to the outside of heavy favorite, Tapizar, at the top of stretch as Victor Espinosa moved Riveting Reason, three wide to challenge.  At 3 yrs old, Anthony’s Cross earns a lot credit for gamely holding ground and scoring the final jump at the wire.  What a magnificent stretch duel by both horses and jockey’s.  After finishing 3rd in the Sham Stakes, behind winner Tapizar, Anthony’s Cross showed wonderful development and improvement.  With the Santa Anita Derby eight weeks out, it will be interesting to see if Eoin Harty decides to race him again prior.  Regardless, Anthony’s Cross has stamped himself as a serious contender for the SA Derby and we will continue to keep a close eye on him. 

In Northern California, Russell Baze has struck again, scoring his eighth El Camino Real Derby and sixth out of the last seven. (Replay)  With the disappointing loss earlier at Santa Anita, Tapizar Trainer Steve Asmussen, secured relief as he watched Silver Medallion move fluently down the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths.  Jakesam, breaking from the far outside, crossed to the rail before the first turn and led the field with fractions of :23.84, :48.09, and 1:12.35.  Just after the eighth pole an urging Baze steared Silver Medallion 4 wide to overtake the lead.  This was Silver Medallion’s first graded stakes win and first race of 2011.  Silver Medallion’s 2 yr old career was focused on qualifying for the BC Juvenile Turf, which he did not and his previous race was a victory in the Eddie Logan Stakes on the SA turf.  So now after this win on GGF’s synthetic surface the question surrounding his bid to take the Santa Anita Derby will be:  Can he win on dirt?  It will be interesting to watch and see if Silver Medallion’s recent success will continue and prove him to be a legitimate derby contender. 

Finally, who else is wondering: What happened to the favorites? At Santa Anita, Zapizar was handful for Garrett Gomez.  As the 3-10 favorite, there were early signs of wound up aggression during the post parade and into the starting gate.  Zapizar broke second and immediately tracked down Quail Hill before driving past him along the first turn.  Down the backstretch, his speed could not be eased clicking fractions of :22.48 and :45.64.  At the final turn is where the fatigue kicked in, leaving him out of the mix and finishing 5th.  At GGF, Comma to the Top’s win streak ended at 5.  After breaking 1st from the gate, he quickly surrendered the lead to Jakesam and stalked from 2nd place.  Hitting the stetch he looked to be in position but when Corey Nakatani asked, Comma to the Top did not respond and instead weakened finishing 4th.  Comments were made that he did not seem to respond well to the synthetic surface so look for his next race to be back in So Cal on the Santa Anita dirt. 

This isn’t the first time early derby contenders failed to produce in a derby prep race and it will not be the last.  The fascinating journey on the road to Kentucky begins by understanding that these horses are still at a young racing age.  In late winter and early spring is when 3 year olds with Kentucky Derby hopes need to begin maturing.  These horses may be down but we can’t them out.  Time will tell so let’s wait and see. Congratulations winners, we look forward to seeing both compete very soon.  We hope that all of the horses in both races returned to their respective barns in good health and we hope to see you again on the trail to the derby.

  • Written by: Little Brink                                                                

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