TRAINED BY MICHAEL CHANG, IRISH-BRED GAINS BERTH IN $1.5 MILLION XPRESSBET BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT NOV. 1
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 4, 2014)–Under deft handling, Hong Kong-based Rich Tapestry eased off a scorching pace duel and mounted a furious stretch rally to defeat favored Goldencents by a nose in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship–covering six furlongs in a rapid 1:07.59 and thus earning a guaranteed berth in the $1.5 million Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita Nov. 1.
Trained by Michael Chang and ridden by regular pilot Olivier Doleuze, Rich Tapestry was a close fifth behind a four-horse spread at the top of the lane and roared up inside of Goldencents a sixteenth of a mile out to just prevail in a thriller.
“He’s such a nice horse,” said Doleuze. “He traveled well and he did what we asked of him today. He’s going to improve from this race so he’ll absolutely be ready for the Breeders’ Cup.”
Idle since well beaten in a Group II on April 27 at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong, the 6-year-old Irish-bred gelding tried natural dirt for the first time and was off at 7-1 in a five-horse field. He paid $16.80, $3.80 and $2.40. Owned by Cheung, Ho, Wong and partners, he improved his overall record to 27-7-4-1 and with the winner’s share of $180,000, increased his earnings to $1,449,533.
“This horse is a lovely horse,” said Chang. “I’m very happy to have him. He’s easy to train, he’s got a big heart. He won a race in Ireland, he won a race in Hong Kong, he won a race in Dubai, and now he’s won a race in America.
“I know in American racing style, they go very fast, always very fast in the first quarter and the second quarter…and in the home straight, they all slow down. So I just asked my jockey, ‘Give the horse a chance. Try to make him finish. You cannot go with them in the early stage.
“The horse will stay with (trainer) Leonard Powell for the Breeders’ Cup. I fly back to Hong Kong tonight. I still have 50 horses there. I’ll be back here a week before the Breeders’ Cup.”
For his part, Goldencents re-rallied under Rafael Bejarano right on the wire, running too good to lose as he pressed fractions of 21.98, 44.25 and 55.56. Trained by Doug O’Neill and a winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, he was off at 4-5 and paid $2.40 and $2.10. He finished 1 ¾ lengths in front of Secret Circle.
“I’ll check with (owners) Josh (Kaplan) and Glenn (Sorgenstein), but we’re 90 percent-plus to run in the Dirt Mile,” said O’Neill, who was uncertain as to who would be the horse’s trainer of record for the Breeders’ Cup as a result of a medication violation in New York in June of 2013.
“When we came into the stretch I felt I had a lot of horse, so I let him go,” said Bejarano. “He opened up but when he got a length or two in front, for some reason he put his ears up and pulled up a little. He’s never done that before. That’s why we got caught. When Rich Tapestry came to us, Goldencents looked at him and seemed scared for a minute–he didn’t fight back.”
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, Secret Circle had been idle since running a close second in the Grade II, six furlong Palos Verdes Stakes on Feb. 2. Off at 6-5, he finished 4 ¼ lengths in front of Ankeny Hill and paid $2.10 to show.
“He probably need this race,” said regular rider Martin Garcia. “Hopefully, he’ll get a lot out of this. They went really fast.”
First post time for a nine-race program on Sunday at Santa Anita is 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.