HEAVILY FAVORED AX MAN IS PACE CASUALTY AS HE FINISHES A WELL BEATEN FOURTH
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 10, 2018)–With heavily favored Ax Man deep fried at the quarter pole, Flavien Prat was on the move four-wide with longshot Kanthaka, who powered home to take Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita by a widening 3 ¼ lengths. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the chestnut colt by Jimmy Creed got seven furlongs in 1:22.62 and thus punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby Trail.
With Ax Man and Minnesota invader Mr. Jagermeister duking it out up front, Kanthaka was well within himself while next to last midway around the far turn and cut inside eventual third place finisher All Out Blitz a quarter mile out while in full-flight for the wire.
A maiden special weight winner in his second start here going seven furlongs on Dec. 26, Kanthaka, a $140,000 Barretts March 2-year-old in training sale purchase, was off at 11-1 in a field of six sophomores and paid $24.20, $7.20 and $4.80.
Owned by Westpoint Thoroughbreds, who picked up their 100th stakes win, Kanthaka, who is now two for three, made $120,000 on the day, increasing his earnings to $153,440.
A close third turning for home, Nero finished some 12 lengths in front of All Out Blitz for the place. Ridden by Victor Espinoza and like his stablemate Ax Man, trained by Bob Baffert, Nero was off at 9-1 and paid $7.80 and $5.60.
All Out Blitz, who was also off at 9-1, was ridden by Tyler Baze and paid $5.00 to show.
Ax Man, who was the prohibitive favorite at 2-5 with Drayden Van Dyke, was under intense early pressure from his rail post and faltered badly through the drive to finish fourth.
Fractions on the race were 22.00, 44.25 and 1:09.89.
Note: The San Vicente marked Prat’s second upset stakes win of the day, as he guided Om ($11.40) to victory in the previous race, the Grade III Thunder Road Stakes.