ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 31, 2014)–Chitu broke sharply and went on to a dominant 2 ½ length win in Friday’s $100,000, seven furlong Damascus Stakes under Joel Rosario, getting the distance in 1:21.66.
Trained by Bob Baffert, the 3-year-old colt by Henny Hughes blazed through fractions of 22.35, 44.85 and 1:08.94.
“Bob told me that I would have to ride him a little bit, that he’s not the kind of horse that would take a hold of me,” said Rosario. “We broke sharp, we were on the lead and I just tried to improve our position from there. I thought there would be a few more horses with me on the lead, but I was going to send him either way. I’m glad he broke like that, it took us all the way.”
The second choice in a solid field of a dozen 3-year-olds and up, Chitu paid $9.20, $5.20 and $3.80. Kentucky-bred, he’s owned by Tanma Corporation. Chitu picked up his fourth win from six starts and with the winner’s share of $60,000, improved his earnings to $561,800.
“He has to be on the lead,” said Baffert, who also saddled the beaten favorite Midnight Hawk. “He’s quick. The (Kentucky) Derby was too far for him, so we freshened him up since then.”
Off at 2-1, Midnight Hawk appeared to break awkwardly with Mike Smith from post position two, rushed up to fourth at the three-eighths pole and was done at that point.
“He sort of walked out of the gate, then he got rank with him (Smith),” said Baffert. “He flattened out and so did my other horse (eventual ninth place finisher), Declassify.”
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Bahamian Squall pressed the pace in third position into and around the far turn, was caught three-wide turning for home and prevailed by a length for the place over Unbridled’s Note, who was five-wide at the top of the stretch.
Off at 6-1, Bahamian Squall paid $7.40 and $4.80.
Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Unbridled’s Note was off at 13-1 and paid $6.00 to show.