ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 21, 2015)–Course specialist Bettys Bambino sat close to the pace and rolled to a one length victory over favored Ambitious Brew in Saturday’s $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes as he covered 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in 1:12.65.
Second, less than a length off of pacesetter Pathway to Yes crossing the dirt at the top of the lane, Bettys Bambino, who is conditioned by Peter Eurton, was caught four-wide and quickly assumed command en route to his fourth consecutive win over the course.
“I had a lot of horse when we crossed the dirt, I was really comfortable,” said Garcia, who rode the 5-year-old Unusual Heat gelding for the fifth consecutive time. “I wanted a clean trip. He’s a really big horse and it’s better when I put him to the outside where he can run free. He loves the downhill.”
The second choice, narrowly, at 5-2, Bettys Bambino paid $7.80, $4.00 and $2.60. Bred in California by Sharon Alesia, Joe Ciaglia and Michael Mellen, Bettys Bambino is out of the High Brite mare Brite Betty and is owned by Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racing, LLC. The Sensational Star, for older horses bred or sired in California, marked his fifth win from six tries down the hill and was his sixth win from 10 lifetime starts. With the winner’s share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $318,036.
“It’s been a great ride (winning four in-a-row with Bettys Bambino)” said Eurton. “I’d like to see him go a one-turn mile down the road. He’s had some issue with tibias, shins, little things like that. The neatest thing about him is he puts himself in a good spot. He could go to the lead any time he wants to, but he saves himself by pacing himself. If the pace is slow, he’ll be on the lead. If it’s fast, he’s able to rate himself without being very far off the lead.”
Idle since running a close seventh in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Nov. 1, Ambitious Brew won last year’s Sensational Star, but was second best on Saturday. The actual favorite at 5-2, the Marty Jones trainee, who was ridden by Brice Blanc, was sixth in a field of eight after a half mile and rallied five wide turning for home to finish 1 ½ lengths in front of Boozer and paid $3.80 and $2.40.
“I was proud of him, he ran well,” said Jones. “Bettys Bambino is pretty sharp right now and (my horse) hasn’t run in a while. He ran a good race though, he’s a nice horse.”
Boozer, ridden by Gary Stevens, was a close fifth early and appeared to be in a position to win four-wide at the top of the stretch, but was third-best. Off at 3-1, he dead heated for the show with Spirit Rules and paid $2.20 to show.
Ridden by Iggy Puglisi, Spirit Rules vied for the early lead through fractions of 22.18, 44.00 and 1:06.68. Off at 22-1, he paid $3.80 to show.
First post time for a nine-race card Sunday at Santa Anita is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.