FAVORED MASOCHISTIC GETS FIRST STAKES WIN IN GRADE II, $200,000 KONA GOLD STAKES; ELLIS, BAZE COMBINE FOR THREE QUARTER LENGTH WIN IN 1:14.69

 

ORIGINALLY CONDITIONED BY AVILA, 5-YEAR-OLD CAL-BRED GELDING WINS FIRST TIME FOR ELLIS

 

ARCADIA, Calif. (April 11, 2015)–Heavily favored Masochistic, in his first start for trainer Ron Ellis, sat a close second early and went on to an impressive three quarter length win in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Kona Gold Stakes. Ridden by Tyler Baze, Masochistic covered 6 ½ furlongs in 1:14.69.

“This was just basically, don’t change anything that ain’t broken,” said Baze, who took over from regular rider Victor Espinoza, who rides top 3-year-old American Pharoah today at Oaklawn Park. “I talked to Victor yesterday before he left and he said to just get him out of the gate and keep him going.

“We (Masochistic and eventual runner-up San Onofre) weren’t really going fast down the backside, like 22 and change and 44 and change, but we picked it up around the turn. When I asked him turning for home, he pinned his ears and took off.”

Purchased privately by Los Pollos Hermanos Racing and Jay Em Ess Stable following a 2 ¼ length allowance win on Feb. 28, Masochistic was off at 4-5 in a field of six older horses and paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.20. Formerly run as the Potrero Grande Stakes, the Kona Gold win improved Masochistic’s overall mark to 7-5-1-0. With the winner’s share of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $343,850.

“I thought he ran awesome,” said Ellis. “I was really glad to see he could win a dogfight, because all his wins have been pretty easy…He hooked up with a very tough horse around the turn, so I’m glad he responded the way he did…As we get up higher in graded stakes, I think the key with him will be getting him to learn to relax. I think he could go a mile. The Breeders’ Cup Mile would be something we’d consider, but we’ll see how he comes out of this race and go from there.

Ridden by Alex Solis, San Onofre showed good speed from the gate, leading for the first half mile, and stayed gamely at the rail, just holding off a late running Sahara Sky by a neck for second. Off at 7-2, San Onofre paid $3.40 and $2.60.

“From the three eighths pole, it was a battle between these two horses, and my horse didn’t give up an inch,” said Solis. “He just kept trying the whole way. He got a clean break and I was where I wanted to be. (Masochistic) was just a little better today.”

Jerry Hollendorfer’s multiple graded stakes winner Sahara Sky, who had been idle since running sixth in the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita Jan. 28, unfurled a powerful stretch run, missing the win by less than a length under Rafael Bejarano. The second choice at 3-1, he paid $2.20 to show.

“Glad to have him back,” said Hollendorfer assistant, Dan Ward. “He ran a good race. I really thought they’d run a lot faster (early). He’s a 7-year-old, and we’ve had him for four years. He’s a personal favorite. There’s the Triple Bend (seven furlongs on June 27) and the Los Angeles (six furlongs on May 25). I don’t know if we go to both…And there are good opportunities at Del Mar the rest of the year, now that it’s dirt.”

Complete fractions on the race were 22.33, 44.64 and 1:08.30.