ARCADIA, Calif. (April 21, 2018)–Trainer Peter Miller’s Bobby Abu Dhabi held off the late run of favored Ransom the Moon to take Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Kona Gold Stakes at Santa Anita by 1 ¼ lengths under Victor Espinoza. Owned by Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen, LLC, the 4-year-old colt by Macho Uno got 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.40.
Breaking sharply from his number two post position, Bobby Abu Dhabi, who came off a second place finish in the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes here March 10, sat second to stablemate Calculator around the far turn and emerged as the leader turning for home as he marched to his first stakes win.
“He’s a fast horse and he doesn’t need the lead, which is nice,” said Miller. “I told Victor if you break on top and make the lead, fine, but if someone else takes it, he can sit second or third. Victor gave him just a super ride. He saved all the ground and cut the corner, kicked away and I think that was the difference. We’ll enjoy this before we figure out what’s next.”
The third choice at 5-2 in a field of five 3-year-olds and up, Bobby Abu Dhabi paid $7.20, $3.20 and $2.60.
With the $120,000 winner’s share, Bobby Abu Dhabi now has earnings of $345,100 from an overall mark of 8-4-2-0.
“For some reason, he’s been a little sharper leaving the gate in his last two races,” said Espinoza. “(Miller’s) other horse, Calculator, showed a lot of speed, so I eased off of him a little bit. This horse is really focused right now and he’s moving forward.”
Last year’s Kona Gold winner Ransom the Moon, who had been idle since running fifth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 4, put in a good late bid to finish second, 4 ¼ lengths in front of longshot Blameitonthelaw.
Off as the 7-5 favorite with Flavien Prat, Ransom the Moon paid $2.80 and $2.20.
Blameitonthelaw, who was last early with Joe Talamo up, was off at 19-1 and paid $3.60 to show.
Trainer Bob Baffert’s Ten Blessings, who was the second choice with Drayden Van Dyke at 9-5, went wrong approaching the quarter pole and was vanned off.
Fractions on the race were 22.15, 44.60 and 1:08.85.