SPIRIT RULES OUTRUNS FAVORED SAN ONOFRE TO WIN $150,000 DONALD VALPREDO CALIFORNIA CUP SPRINT; PUGLISI, AGUIRRE TEAM FOR HALF LENGTH WIN

 

SPRINT IS ONE OF FIVE STAKES FOR CALIFORNIA-BRED OR SIRED HORSES ON SUNSHINE MILLIONS/CAL CUP DAY

 

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 24, 2015)–Longshot Spirit Rules engaged heavily favored San Onofre around the far turn and repelled his determined challenge through the stretch to take Saturday’s $150,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint by a half length under Iggy Puglisi, covering six furlongs in 1:10.31. Trained by Paul Aguirre, the 6-year-old gelding by Tribal Rule prevailed in a race that was reduced from a field of nine to five older horses by virtue of four program scratches.

“The break helped us out a ton,” said Puglisi. “He was in there a really short period of time and he really caught a flyer from there. I couldn’t give that up. There were too many fast horses in there, so when I could scoot my way over to San Onofre, I figured I’d at least have a shot at it…My horse ran really good. He’s been lights out, a really hard-knocking horse.”

Owned by Barbara Accardy, Jeanmarc Murphy and Craig Siedler, Spirit Rules, who broke from the outside and was the longest shot in the short field at 12-1, paid $26.20, $6.20 and $3.20. In garnering his fifth win from 16 starts, Spirit Rules picked up $90,000 for the win, which increased his earnings to $318,378.

“He’s a big horse and whenever he draws outside and he gets near the lead, he’s going to be tough,” said Aguirre. “They may run him down, but it’s not going to be because he quits. He’ll give every ounce he has right to the wire.”

Ridden by Mike Smith, San Onofre, who had been idle since winning a 6 ½ furlong allowance on Feb. 20, broke from the rail and was in search of his fifth consecutive win in sixth career start.

“Just got outrun today,” said Smith. “I stumbled a little leaving the gate, which cost me a clear lead, but if I’d have been running, I don’t think it would have bothered him. The horse hasn’t run in a year. The horse that beat me is a good old horse that’s been running all year and is fit. It’s a whole lot different in the morning, especially when they take it to you early. I was really happy with the way he ran and I think he’ll really move forward off it.”

Off at 3-5, San Onofre and Spirit Rules went head and head through fractions of 21.49, 44.14 and 56.84. He finished 1 ¼ lengths clear of Follini and paid $2.80 and $2.10.

Off at 10-1 with Edwin Maldonado up, Follini finished third, 1 ¾ lengths in front of Rousing Sermon and paid $3.20 to show.