ONE WINNING PICK SIX TICKET, PURCHASED THROUGH TWIN SPIRES, PAYS $80,131.40
ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 28, 2014)–A graded stakes winner a year and a half ago, Bright Thought broke a seven-game losing streak Sunday at Santa Anita, taking the Grade II, $200,000 John Henry Turf Championship under Tyler Baze, laying close to the pace and prevailing by three quarters of a length while traversing 1 ¼ miles on turf in 1:58.27.
Making his second start for trainer Phil D’Amato, Bright Thought was lapped on pacesetter Big Kick and Victor Espinoza under the wire the first time and took command leaving the three furlong pole through fractions of 23.66, 46.75, 1:10.30 and 1:34.27 and proved too much late while scoring at 7-1.
“Being on the lead with Big Kick didn’t bother me at all,” said Baze. “I have watched his (Bright Thought’s) replays and I’ve been watching him race for a year and a half…So when they gave me the opportunity to get on him, I had complete confidence in him.”
Owned by Dye and A. Venneri Racing, Inc., Bright Thought paid $16.40, $8.60 and $4.20. A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred ridgling by Hat Trick, he picked up his fifth win from 15 starts. With the winner’s share of $120,000, Bright Thought’s earnings now stand at $339,161.
“I’ve probably had him for two months,” said D’Amato. “He’s just a classy horse. Last time (a third place run in the Grade II Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 23) I don’t think I used his best asset, his speed, to full advantage. This time, I wanted to sharpen him up and use that speed and Tyler used it perfectly today.”
Finnegan’s Wake, idle since running a respectable fifth in the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 16, was next to last early in the field of nine 3-year-olds and up, flew late under Joe Talamo to finish second, 1 ½ lengths in front of 4-5 favorite Big John B. Off at 7-1, Finnegans paid $6.80 and $4.00 in his Southern California debut for trainer Peter Miller.
A winner of his last three starts, his most recent the 1 3/8 miles (turf) Del Mar Handicap, Big John B was last early and unable to threaten the winner through the lane. Ridden by Mike Smith, he paid $2.20 to show.
“They went fast up front but they just didn’t come back any,” said Smith. “The turf is brand new and they’re just cruising over it.”
D’Amato also trained Big John B and expressed hope that he’d run better going longer next time out. “This well set him up for that mile and a half ($3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 1),” he said. “I always thought a mile and a quarter was probably as short as I’d go with ‘Big John.’ A mile and a half, a mile and three-eighths is right in his wheel house.”
There was one winning ticket in Sundays Pick Six. Purchased through Twin Spires, it paid $80,131.40.
Racing will resume with a four-day week at Santa Anita on Thursday, first post time each day is at 1 p.m.