ARCADIA, Calif. (May 6, 2016)–Shifted from turf to dirt late in the afternoon due to unexpectedly heavy rains, Friday’s $100,000 American Stakes went to 14-1 longshot Home Run Kitten, who rallied to take the lead in the shadow of the wire and prevailed by a half length under Joe Talamo. Trained by David Hofmans and owned by Tarabilla Farms, Inc., Home Run Kitten covered one mile on Santa Anita’s “wet fast” main track in 1:35.30.
With three late scratches, the American was reduced to a field of six three year olds and up. Breaking from the far outside, Home Run Kitten, who was adding blinkers, was away alertly and sat a comfortable fourth into the Club House turn. Heading to the three furlong pole, he was set down by Talamo and rallied wide-out to just overhaul Little Curlin in the final thirty yards.
In just his second-ever try on dirt and first on an off surface, Home Run Kitten was off at 14-1 and paid $30.40, $10.20 and $3.60.
“The track feels good,” said Talamo. “It feels great when you win. It’s easy to run on, it’s pretty versatile and you can kind of do what you want out there…This horse has so much confidence. He works so well in the mornings and Dave always keeps him fresh, so I just tried to be a good pilot today.”
Originally scheduled to run in last Saturday’s Grade III San Francisco Mile (turf) at Golden Gate Fields, Home Run Kitten, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred horse by Kitten’s Joy, picked up his fifth win from 18 overall starts. With the winner’s share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $402,645.
“He had a slight temperature the day we were supposed to ship him and with this race coming up, we didn’t want to take a chance,” said Hofmans. “We thought we’d give him a shot in here even if it came off the dirt…His last two or three races were so uncharacteristic and I was totally lost. I had no (explanation) whatsoever.
“I even gave him…a few months off, turned him out because we campaigned him so hard and he came back super and stronger, but just ran like hell…I came into this race like ‘Who’s going to show up today?’ Let’s hope he’s back on track because he’s a nice horse, a real nice horse.”
Ridden by Martin Pedroza, Little Curlin rallied boldly around the far turn, took over from Si Sage turning for home and finished second, a half length in front of favored Twentytwentyvision. Off at 10 -1, Little Curlin paid $6.80 and $3.40.
Last approaching the quarter pole, Twentytwentyvision rallied widest of all and was finishing fast under Rafael Bejarano, but had to settle for third money, finishing 3 ¼ lengths in front of Si Sage. Off at 6-5, Twentytwentyvision paid $2.40 to show.
Ohio, the 3-2 second choice in the wagering, stumbled at the break and ended up last under Brice Blanc.
Fractions on the race were 23.08, 46.20, 1:10.35 and 1:22.68.
Earlier in the day, jockey Santiago Gonzalez, who was seriously injured on March 20 and who returned to the saddle yesterday, got his first winner since being injured when he pointed Prince Valiant (8-5) to victory in the third race for Jack Carava. Gonzalez followed up with his second win in race five, when he guided trainer Mark Glatt’s Big Tire from last to first at odds of 10-1.
Santa Anita’s admission gates will open early on Saturday, Kentucky Derby Day, at 7:15 a.m. First live race post time is at 12 noon. Approximate post time for the Kentucky Derby is at 3:34 p.m. PDT.