HUMBERTO ASCANIO, LONG TIME ASSISTANT TO LATE TRAINER FRANKEL, PRESENTS TROPHY
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 29, 2013)–In a thrilling finish to both the year and its final added-money event, Customer Base, with Mike Smith aboard, got up to beat Stormy Lucy and Isaias Enriquez by a nose in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes at Santa Anita, while covering 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:46.45.
Although many of those positioned trackside were asking one another which horse they thought had won, Smith, a Hall of Famer who won a number of photos aboard the incomparable Zenyatta, was confident he had won.
“I don’t want to sound cocky or anything, but it felt like a Zenyatta-type photo finish where everyone thought it was so close, but yet I was confident,” said Smith. “She was just hanging there, just waiting. She knew she had done enough…The only thing I could do from that point was not to mess it up, so I just stayed with her.”
Trained by Tom Proctor, Customer Base had been ridden by Gary Stevens in her last two starts, but Proctor opted to have Stevens ride Irish-bred Gulsary, who was the 2-1 favorite, and like Customer Base, owned by Glen Hill Farm.
“I knew the two outside horses (Appealing, with Corey Nakatani, and Nickels Wild, with Joe Talamo) would have speed so I could work out a good trip from that point unless I got buried, which could have happened,” said Smith. “I thought the main horse to follow was Stormy Lucy, or our other horse (Gulsary), who was behind me, so I parked in behind Stormy Lucy and didn’t move until I had to.”
The third choice in the nine-horse Frankel at 4-1, Customer Base was far back early and mounted a protracted outside rally, getting up in the last jump. She paid $10.00, $4.80 and $3.20.
A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Lemon Drop Kid, Customer Base had been idle since running a close third in the Grade II Goldikova Stakes at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. With the winner’s share of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $322,182. Her overall mark now stands at 18-5-3-2.
Stormy Lucy, off at 4-1, was mid pack early and was third, just a half length off the lead turning for home prior to putting a head in front of Nickels Wild approaching the sixteenth pole.
“She had a perfect trip,” said Enriquez, who along with trainer Frank Lucarelli, is now based at Golden Gate Fields. “I put her in a good spot, she was comfortable. It was perfect, perfect trip. Down the lane, she took off. She was trying her eyeballs out, I just got beat by a better horse.”
Stormy Lucy paid $5.60 and $3.80.
Gulsary, who appeared to have dead aim on the leaders turning for home, couldn’t kick with her stable mate and finished 2 ¼ lengths behind Stormy Lucy. She paid $2.80 to show.
“I had a great trip,” said Stevens. “I just followed the winner all the way.”
Proctor, who also won Saturday’s $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes with Enterprising, was glad to see former longtime assistant to the late Bobby Frankel, Humberto Ascanio, presenting the trophy in the Winner’s Circle.
“It’s a pleasure winning this race and seeing Humberto (who suffered a career-end stroke two years ago),” said Proctor. “…I always thought the most of Bobby Frankel. We started out, we didn’t like each other too much. Then I got where I really thought a lot of him. He about put me out of business, claiming everything I had my first year in training, ’cause I was running them where they could win.”
Nickels Wild, who pressed fractions of 23.58, 47.05, 1:10.80 and 1:34.78, finished fourth, beaten a nose by Gulsary.
Live racing resumes at Santa Anita on New Year’s Day, Wednesday, with first post time at 12:30 p.m. The track will offer all on-track attendees one dollar beers, sodas and hot dogs.