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ELYSIUM FIELDS SCORES IMPRESSIVELY AFTER 11-MONTH LAYOFF
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 19, 2009) – Regarded as a leading Kentucky Derby prospect before finishing eleventh in last year’s Florida Derby, Elysium Fields resurfaced as a 4-year-old Thursday to score an impressive 1 ¾-length victory over pace-setter Fiery Trippi in Santa Anita’s $52,712 allowance feature at 1 1/16 miles.
With Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, Elysium Fields surged between horses in the closing yards to draw clear while covering the distance in 1:43.45 after the runner-up had set some pedestrian early fractions under Mike Smith that included a 49.33 half-mile.
Fiery Trippi held the place by a nose over Pool Play in the field of six while well-fancied Nima’s Pad, the lukewarm 5-2 favorite, settled for a non-threatening fifth.
As the second choice in the wagering, Elysium Fields paid $7, $3.80 and $3. The mutuels on Fiery Trippi were $5.60 and $3.40 while Pool Play, ridden by Patrick Husbands, paid $2.80 to show.
A Kentucky-bred son of El Prado owned and bred by Robert S. Evans, Elysium Fields was making his first start for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale after racing in the care of Barclay Tagg as a 3-year-old.
After breaking his maiden by six lengths at 1 1/8 miles in his fourth start, Elysium Fields ran a bang-up second to Cool Coal Man in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes. He went to the sidelines, however, after proving no match for Big Brown and company in the Florida Derby.
Drysdale wasn’t sure how ready Elysium Fields would be for his first start in eleven months. “He’s training well, but he might need a race,” Drysdale had commented beforehand, adding, “He’s an attractive, well-made horse. I hope he has a future in front of him.”
Elysium Fields indicated just that while capturing his 2009 debut to earn $31,200, which boosted his career total to $140,160 from a 2-3-1 record in seven races.
The bay colt provided Bejarano with his third victory of the afternoon and 46th of the season to move within one win of meet leader Garrett Gomez, who was riding in Florida on Thursday.
Santa Anita’s eight-race card on Friday will offer free general admission and free box seats on a first-come, first-served basis as well as hot dogs, beer, sodas and pop corn priced at $1. First post is at 1 p.m.