ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 8, 2014)–With a hot pace to shoot at, longshot Blingo, with Aaron Gryder aboard, wheeled four-deep turning for home and out-gamed fellow longshot Imperative inside the sixteenth pole to take Saturday’s Grade II, $300,000 San Antonio Stakes by a half length, covering 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.95.
As expected, Blueskiesnrainbows, who broke from post position three, and 1-5 favorite Game On Dude, with Mike Smith up from post five, engaged one another into the Club House turn and from there, the gauntlet was irrevocably thrown down, resulting in splits of 22.75, 46.26, 1:10.17 and 1:35.23.
“I was hoping for a hot pace today and I was real happy with the first eighth of a mile,” said Gryder. “By the time we had gone three-sixteenths, I could tell we had established a fast pace and I just wanted my horse to settle…I just knew the only chance we would have would be if we settled. When we got to the five-eighths pole, I knew he was running his race. He was traveling so well.
“I was just hoping they (the leaders) would come back to us a little bit, but I didn’t have to, he went after them.”
Off at 15-1, Blingo, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by turf star Artie Schiller, was taken in-hand by Gryder and sat fifth, eight lengths off the dueling leaders past the half mile pole and sling-shotted past Game On Dude at the top of the lane.
Owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs, Blingo paid $33.80, $11.40 and $27.20. With the winner’s share of $180,000, Blingo increased his earnings to $364,408. He now has four wins from 11 starts.
“That was great, watching those two guys (Game On Dude and Blueskiesnrainbows) go after each other,” said Jerry Moss. “It seems like this horse is still growing, but we’re real happy with the way he’s developed. John Shirreffs has just done an amazing job with this horse. The time he’s put into him is really amazing. He got the horse right, dealing with all his idiosyncrasies.”
Off at 26-1 in a field of seven, Imperative, with Kent Desormeaux up, found room at the rail going to the far turn and turned the heat up on the pacesetters, putting a head in front leaving the quarter pole and after dispatching Game On Dude, battled gamely the final three sixteenths of mile with the winner, putting a head in front again inside the sixteenth pole.
“I’ll tell you, this horse made an incredible effort,” said Desormeaux. “I made the lead, the winner passed me, I passed him again but I couldn’t hold him off. The winner was too good today.”
Second by 4 ¼ lengths to late finishing American Blend, Imperative paid $12.20 and $22.40. (The show prices were greatly inflated due to the fact Game On Dude finished out of the money).
Off at 19-1, American Blend, with Joe Talamo up, was next-to-last early and finished a head in front of Majestic Harbor, paying $25.80 to show.
Game On Dude, trained by Bob Baffert, was seeking an unprecedented third consecutive win in the San Antonio, final major prep to the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 8, but faded to finish fifth.
“I was a little disappointed in the ride,” said Baffert assistant Jim Barnes. “You have to have some confidence in your horse. I’m watching this 22 and 46 going a mile and an eighth–I don’t know what else to say. We went too fast.”
The second choice at 7-2, Blueskiesnrainbows also tired badly, finishing sixth, a length in front of last-place finisher Willyconker.