KENTUCKY DERBY DAY CROWD OF 25,486 CONTRIBUTES TO ROBUST TOTAL HANDLE OF $22 MILLION
ARCADIA, Calif. (May 2, 2015)–Favored Catch a Flight split horses turning for home and went on to a convincing three quarter length win in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Precisionist Stakes, as he got 1 1/16 miles under Flavien Prat in 1:42.22. Most recently third in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap March 7, Catch a Flight provided Richard Mandella with the 2,000th win in his Hall of Fame career.
With longshot Mystery Train and last year’s Precisionist winner Fury Kapcori setting the early pace, Catch a Flight was a close fourth approaching the quarter pole and seized the opportunity to split horses two off the rail.
“I had a lot of horse on the far turn,” said French-born Prat, who got his first North American graded stakes win. “When I got a good spot I let him run. When he got the lead he waited a little bit, he was doing it so easy. I split horses easy because I had a lot of horse.”
Off at 7-5 in a field of eight 3-year-olds and up, Catch a Flight paid $4.80, $3.20 and $2.40. A 1 1/8 miles allowance winner two starts back on Feb. 13, the 5-year-old Argentine-bred horse by Giant’s Causeway now has two wins from four stateside starts and is 14-8-0-3 overall. Owned by Haras Santa Maria de Araras, Inc., he picked up $60,000 for the win, boosting his career earnings to $273,239.
“We thought there was too much speed so he settled him back and got between horses and he did it like a pro,” said Mandella. “Flavien rode him like the champ that he is, so it was really great…He’s developing very nicely.
“The Gold Cup is the big target (Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita at a mile and a quarter June 27), maybe using The Californian (May 30) as a stepping stone. I’m not sure yet.”
Mandella was circumspect when asked about his milestone, 2,000th victory.
“It’s good, but it took a long time,” he said. “I did it one inch at a time, 42 years…This didn’t come overnight.”
Ridden by Alex Solis, longshot Sammy Mandeville rallied from last to be second, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Motown Men. Off at 8-1, “Sammy” paid $7.80 and $4.60.
Motown Men was attentive to the pace, rallied four wide at the top of the lane and was third best under Tyler Baze, finishing 3 ¼ lengths clear of Blue Tone. The second choice at 7-2, Motown Men paid $3.20 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.88, 46.11, 1:10.63 and 1:35.75.
Lured by the prospect of the 141st Kentucky Derby from Louisville and an 11-race card at Santa Anita, an on-track crowd of 25,486 contributed to a robust overall pari-mutuel handle of $22,071,224, a slight increase over last year’s $21,307,634.
First post time for an eight-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.