ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 3, 2016)–Beaten 22 ½ lengths in the Grade I Pacific Classic on Aug. 20 and winless in 18 starts since winning the Grade II Charles Town Classic in April, 2014, Imperative rallied boldly from last to take Thursday’s $80,000 Big Bear Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths under Kent Desormeaux, who hadn’t been aboard in a year and a half. Trained by Richard Baltas, Imperative, a 6-year-old Bernardini gelding, got one mile in 1:35.98.
“I think he can beat anyone in the world when he wants to,” said Desormeaux, who was also aboard for Imperative’s signature win in the Charles Town Classic. “He’s the kind of horse, he’s either gonna show up or he’s not. So I just (left him alone) until we got to the quarter pole and when I asked him, he just took off.”
Owned by J K Racing Stable, Imperative was the 7-5 favorite in a field of eight 3-year-olds and up and paid $4.80, $3.00 and $2.40. In garnering his fourth win from 34 career starts, Imperative picked up a winner’s check of $50,400, which increased his earnings to $2,002,365.
“He’s just a horse that’s hard to ride,” said Baltas, who has been the trainer of record for his last nine starts. “There’s a particular way to ride him and Kent knows how to ride him.”
Pacesetter Conquest Cobra repelled a stiff challenge from eventual third place finisher Magic Mark, but was no match for the winner and had to settle for second, 3 ¼ lengths clear of “Magic.” Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Conquest Cobra was off at 7-2 and paid $4.20 and $2.80.
Magic Mark, with Drayden Van Dyke aloft, was off at 3-1 and paid $2.80 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.15, 46.75, 1:11.28 and 1:23.54.
Friday is day one of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Accordingly, Santa Anita admission gates will open at 9 a.m. and first live race post time is at 11:25 a.m.
Friday’s main event is the Grade I, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff, which has been carded as the ninth race on a 10-race program. The Distaff will feature what looms an epic showdown between three Eclipse Award winners, the undefeated Songbird, Beholder and Stellar Wind.