ARCADIA, Calif. (March 25, 2017)–With Tyler Baze applying pressure early and often, favored Ashleyluvssugar was never allowed to get into his front-running comfort zone, resulting in a one length win for French-bred Itsinthepost in Saturday’s marathon San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Jeff Mullins, Itsinthepost, in his first stakes victory, covered a mile and one half on turf in 2:25.43.
With Gary Stevens aboard, heavily favored Ashleyluvssugar went right to the front as the field began their journey half way down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, carving out a leisurely opening quarter mile in 25.34, but Baze was quick to engage the favorite as they headed into the Club House turn.
“I had four different people tell me this horse couldn’t go a mile and a half,” said Baze, who had ridden the 5-year-old gelding in his last eight starts. “I’ve seen that horse (Ashleyluvssugar) run so many times and I know he gets a big heart when he’s able to open up two or three (lengths) early, so I wanted to be sure he knew I was there all the way around there.”
Second in his last two starts, both graded stakes, Itsinthepost was off at 6-1 in a field of 12 older horses and paid $15.60, $8.60 and $4.40.
Owned by the Cohen family’s Red Baron’s Barn, LLC, Itsinthepost picked up $120,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $362,712. His overall record now stands at 24-4-6-5.
“Tyler rode him just the way we talked about it,” said Mullins. “It unfolded just the way I thought it would. I thought Ashleyluvssugar would got to the lead and I thought Papacoolpapacool and maybe the one (Inordinate) would go and they did. When ‘Ashley’ started sneaking away, I told Tyler to be right on his heels and he was.”
Dogged throughout, Ashleyluvssugar tired late to finish third, as longshot Syntax was up for second money, finishing 1 ¾ lengths in front of “Ashley.” Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Irish-bred Syntax was off at 27-1 and paid $24.80 and $9.20.
Ashleyluvssugar, solidly backed at 6-5 with Stevens up, paid $2.10 to show.
“I was happy when we got to the three quarter (pole), it seemed like we were two minute licking ’em,” said Stevens. “I wasn’t overly happy when Tyler tied into me on the bottom (Club House) turn, but he got the prize. This horse, believe it or not, is better off with a target. He was kind of looking around on the lead today.”
Complete fractions on the race were 25.34, 48.80, 1:13.13 and 1:36.97.
First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. For scratches, changes and complete morning line information, please visit santaanita.com.