RACE IS PART OF LUCRATIVE GOLDEN STATE SERIES FOR CALIFORNIA-BRED OR SIRED HORSES
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 19, 2018)–Despite being pressured heavily on the early lead, Bob Baffert’s Heck Yeah went on to an emphatic 1 ¼ length win in Monday’s $200,000 California Cup Derby, his first time going two turns. Ridden by Mike Smith, the California-bred colt by Acclamation got a mile and one sixteenth over Santa Anita’s main track in 1:46.60.
Fresh off victory in the Cal Cup Turf Sprint at 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course on Jan. 27, Heck Yeah was sent from his number four post position, but was engaged immediately around the Club House turn to his inside by Intimidate, who tired three furlongs out and finished ninth under Corey Nakatani.
“I was telling Bob that down the backstretch, I felt like I was in the Olympics (with a strong headwind). I was trying to be as aerodynamic as possible. (The wind) was really strong and it took its toll on all of them in there…I wanted him to stay in that nice rhythm and we were able to hold them off down the lane.”
A runaway 5 ¼ length first-out maiden winner going 5 ½ furlongs on Dec. 7 at Los Alamitos, Heck Yeah is now unbeaten in three starts. The 4-5 favorite in a field of 11 California-bred or sired 3-year-olds, Heck Yeah paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.40.
Owned by his breeder, Michael Pageler, Dr. Michael Sigband and Bob Baedeker, Heck Yeah, who is out of the Maria’s Mon mare Lutess, picked up $110,000 for the win, boosting his earnings to $194,000.
“I’m really proud of this horse,” said Baffert. “Naturally, I think he’s a better turf horse but he gutted it out today. He showed his class when he broke his maiden over the dirt at Los Al. He’s quick, he’s got stamina. He’s gutsy and he has a lot of heart…He was very professional.
“The good horses show their stuff early. We saw that he was a nice horse early in his training. I’m just glad to be a part of it. We’ve got a good a group here.”
Pageler, who noted that Lutess is currently in Kentucky to be bred to Arrogate, said that Heck Yeah has a half-brother, a 2-year-old colt by Coil.
“This is great, more than I expected, really,” said Pageler, who resides in Arizona and has known Baffert for many years. When asked if he’d be inclined to try open company and test the Derby Trail in the near future, he responded, “It’s up to Bob, but I wouldn’t be opposed to taking a shot at one of those points races.”
Ridden by Geovanni Franco, Violent Ridge, who broke from the rail, was an attending fourth early and finished well to be second while finishing 3 ¾ lengths in front of Continental Divide.
Off at 6-1, Violent Ridge paid $5.80 and $4.60.
“He settled real nice with me and he was very kind down the backside,” said Franco. “I like the way he finished and he’s gonna get better. The winner is a nice horse.”
Next to last after the first half mile with Victor Espinoza, Continental Divide was off at 13-1 and paid $5.80 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.03, 47.01, 1:12.52 and 1:39.45.
Racing resumes with an eight race card on Friday. First post time is at 1 p.m. and admission gates open at 11 a.m.