ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 27, 2014)–In a race originally scheduled to be run on turf, longshot County Lineman, with Corey Nakatani aboard, rallied from off the pace to win Friday’s featured $50,000 Indian River Purse by a head, getting one mile in 1:35.53.
With 4-5 favorite Batti Man, ridden by Tyler Baze, setting contested fractions of 23.48, 46.47, and 1:10.00, Nakatani got County Lineman to settle into a stalking trip, as he sat third heading down the backside and just got up to nail Batti Man in the last jump.
“I thought this race set up for a speed horse like Batti Man and that the pace would be pretty quick,” said Nakatani. “I was able to get my horse to settle in behind the front runners and he finished up really good.”
Idle since running an even sixth in a first condition allowance race at Woodbine on Nov. 2, County Lineman made his first start today for Vladimir Cerin. Owned by Holly and David Wilson, County Lineman was off at 5-1 in a field of five older horses and paid $12.40, $4.40 and $3.40.
“He had one race previously on dirt and he only got beat 38 lengths (March 9, 2013, at Gulfstream Park),” deadpanned Cerin. “We had to make a decision whether or not to scratch…I prefer the grass. They seem to last longer and you can count on grass races to fill, but maybe he’s the kind of horse that can improve a bit and run better races going forward.”
A 4-year-old Ontario, Canadian-bred, County Lineman was entered for a claiming tag of $75,000, and he picked his first win on natural dirt and his fourth overall from 11 starts. He made $30,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $164,961.
Batti Man, who was pressured throughout by Royal F J and Martin Garcia, finished three quarters of a length in front of Royal F J and paid $2.40 and $2.10.
Royal F J, ridden by Martin Garcia, was off at 6-1 and finished third, 2 ¼ lengths in front of stable mate American Act. Royal F J paid $3.40 to show.
Racing resumes at Santa Anita on Friday, with first post time for an eight-race program at 1 p.m. Admission gates will open at 11 a.m.