PICK SIX CARRYOVER OF $48,472 INTO SATURDAY, TOTAL PICK SIX POOL SHOULD APPROACH $300,000
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 27, 2015)–Far back early, Play Hard to Get saved ground at the rail and re-rallied late under Corey Nakatani to defeat Awesome Return and Mike Smith by a head in Friday’s $60,000 Green Jewel Purse allowance at Santa Anita. Trained by Eric Kruljac, Play Hard to Get covered 1 ¼ miles on turf in 2:00.59.
Breaking from the rail under showery conditions, Joes Blazing Aaron set fast fractions of 22.45, 45.67, 1:09.79 and 1:34.84, which set up the late runs of both the winner and runner-up.
“They were motoring up front,” said Nakatani. “I knew we could take back off the pace, because I could tell they would come back to me.”
Off at 9-1 from his outside post position in a field of nine, Play Hard to Get paid $20.40, $5.80 and $4.20. Owned by Kings River Ranch, Play Hard to Get, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Purim, picked up his third win from nine starts. With the winner’s take of $36,000, he increased his earnings to $132,750.
“It was definitely the ride that Corey envisioned,” said Kruljac. “We were going to take back but we didn’t know we’d be that far back (sixth, 6 ½ lengths off the lead at the quarter pole). He had the confidence to do it and he knew what they were doing on the front-end. You put a rider like that up and you don’t tell him how to ride.”
Next to last, 9 ½ lengths off the lead a quarter mile from home, Awesome Return skimmed the rail around the far turn while following Play Hard to Get, made the lead inside the sixteenth pole and may’ve won had he seen the winner, who was wide-out on the course at the wire.
Off at 6-5, Awesome Return finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of front-running Joes Blazing Aaron and paid $3.20 and $2.60.
Ridden by Tyler Baze, Joes Blazing Aaron was off at 5-1 and paid $3.40 to show.
There is a Pick Six carryover into Saturday of $48,472 and it is expected that Saturday’s total Pick Six Pool should approach $300,000. First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.