ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 18, 2015)–Ridden confidently by Victor Espinoza, favored Toews (pronounced TAZE) On Ice relinquished the lead going to the half mile pole and then motored to an impressive 4 ¼ length win in Sunday’s $70,000 Speakeasy Stakes for 2-year-olds. Trained by Bob Baffert, Toews On Ice, who is named for multiple Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews, got the six furlong distance in 1:09.74.
With regular rider Martin Garcia in New York to ride Baffert’s Pretty N Cool to victory in the Grade II Matron Stakes, Espinoza took over for the first time aboard the Kentucky-bred colt by Archarcharch, who came off a 7 ½ length maiden win in the restricted Barretts Juvenile at Los Alamitos Sept. 20.
“I had a good outside post and he broke in front,” said Espinoza, who drove to the lead leaving the quarter pole. “I was trying to let him run and open up a length but Big Finish (who broke from post three in a field of five) wanted the lead so I sat back a little bit…He did things easily. He’s still learning and some horses need one or two races to really focus and he’s one of those.”
(Espinoza, regular rider of American Pharoah, further noted that he would be at Santa Anita Tuesday morning to watch Baffert’s Triple Crown Champion work in preparation for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Oct. 31 at Keeneland).
Pounded to 3-5 favoritism late, Toews On Ice paid $3.40, $2.20 and $2.10. Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Toews On Ice now has two wins from four starts. With the winner’s share of $42,900, he increased his earnings to $115,200.
“It’s absolutely nice to get wins on each coast today, I couldn’t be more happy,” said Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes. “He’s still a little green, still wanting to run on his left lead, but he’s moving forward and I’m sure we have big things to come.”
A close third into and around the far turn, Street Vision was clearly second best, finishing 3 ¾ lengths in front of Blameitonthelaw. The second choice at 2-1, Street Vision, who was ridden by Rafael Bejarano, paid $2.80 and $2.10.
Last after a quarter mile, Blameitonthelaw finished third, 2 ¼ lengths in front of speedy Big Finish. Off at 5-2 with Tyler Baze, Blameitonthelaw paid $2.10 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.10, 45.10 and 57.20.