ARCADIA, Calif. (May 24, 2015)–California-bred Ashleyluvssugar wheeled four-wide turning for home and went on to a half length win under Gary Stevens in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Peter Eurton, the 4-year-old Game Plan gelding steadied mid-way around the far turn en route to covering 1 ½ miles on turf in 2:30.10.
“It looked like it was going to be messy on paper and it was,” said Stevens. “There was no real speed in the race and he was very fresh today. I wasn’t afraid to put him on the lead if that’s where he wanted to be, but Mike (Smith, aboard Brazilian-bred Going Somewhere) sent his horse away from there pretty hard and was intent on getting the lead. ‘Ashley’ got a little rank with me just before we crossed over the dirt, but then he shut down for me and was push button…I got to know him even better today, it’s only the second time I’ve been on him. He’s a real warrior and a lot of fun to ride.”
A winner of the Grade II, 1 ½ miles turf San Luis Rey Stakes with Stevens on March 21, Ashleyluvssugar was the heavy 1-2 favorite Sunday in a field of five three year olds and up and paid $3.00, $2.20 and $2.10.
Owned by his breeders, Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing, LLC, Ashleyluvssugar, who is out of the Urgent Request mare Ashley’s Folly, got his sixth win from 11 starts and with the winner’s take of $120,000, increased his earnings to $455,504.
“Ashley’s Folly was a pretty darn good mare and everything she’s foaled has won a maiden special weight (race) and now this is her first graded stakes winner,” said Eurton. “Our goal, for me, and I hope it’s the same for everyone is to go in the San Juan Capistrano (Grade III, 1 ¾ miles turf on June 28), which has always been a fun race and I’ve always thought it would be pretty cool to win.”
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Brazilian-bred Ganesh made a rail run around the far turn and finished second, a half length in front of pacesetter Going Somewhere. Off at 5-1, Ganesh paid $3.20 and $2.60.
Idle since running a close seventh in a Group I race in France Oct. 5, Going Somewhere broke from post position four in his U.S. debut and set fractions of 24.16, 48.06, 1:14.21, 1:40.74 and 2:05.56 en route to finishing third with Smith at the controls.
“He’ll get a lot out of this,” said Smith. “The plan was to go to the lead and it worked well. We had a shot to win it and he just got a little tired at the end. Like I said, he’ll get a lot out of this race.”
Off at 8-1, Going Somewhere paid $3.00 to show.
Racing resumes at Santa Anita on Monday, Memorial Day, with the Grade I, $300,000 Gamely Stakes serving as the day’s main event. First post time for a nine-race card is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.