ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 2, 2016)–California-bred San Onofre sat second early to speedy Distinctiv Passion and responded to aggressive handling from Alex Solis to win Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Midnight Lute Stakes by a half length while covering 6 ½ furlongs in 1:14.82.
Breaking from the inside in a field of six older sprinters, the 6-year-old gelding by Surf Cat, who was bred by trainer Bruce Headley, trained by his daughter, Karen, and owned by his wife Aase’s Matson Racing, was hustled from the gate and settled nicely in second going into the far turn. Sitting behind fractions of 21.72, 44.00 and 1:08.53, San Onofre, who was put into a vigorous drive leaving the three eighths pole, took charge a furlong out and held off favored Salutos Amigos late.
Off at 4-1, San Onofre paid $10.00, $4.40 and $2.60.
“He’s been training really, really good,” said Solis of San Onofre, who had been idle since running fourth in the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita June 27. “He’s a different horse these last six months. He’s a different horse in the mornings, you can see it. He’s stronger and happier and he showed it today.”
With the winner’s share of $60,000, San Onofre boosted his earnings to $333,040. The Midnight Lute victory marks his first stakes win as he improved his overall record to 10-5-4-0.
“Really good way to start the New Year, my daughter did a helluva job,” said Headley, who held forth in the Winner’s Circle beneath his customary felt-tipped cowboy hat. “I’m more excited for Alex than I am myself. Alex has a lot left in him, which he showed today. Me, I’m on borrowed time (with a wry grin).”
As for where the lightly raced San Onofre might re-surface, Karen Headley indicated he’d probably run next in the $150,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint for Cal-breds at six furlongs on Jan. 30.
Ridden by Martin Garcia, Salutos Amigos broke alertly from the far outside, sat third to the furlong pole and had no apparent excuses in running second, 1 ¾ lengths in front of Pulling G’s. Off at 9-5, Salutos Amigos paid $3.40 and $2.40.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Pulling G’s rallied from last to be third, 4 ½ lengths in front of All Run. Off at 3-1, Pulling G’s paid $2.60 to show.
Run as the sixth race on a nine-race card, the Midnight Lute was the second of three graded stakes presented by Santa Anita.