GEORGIE BOY CONTINUES TO ROLL WITH HANDY SAN CARLOS WIN

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 21, 2009) – Georgie Boy, who won three successive graded stakes before going to the sidelines as a 3-year-old last year, followed up his smashing victory in the Sunshine Millions Sprint with a rousing come-from-behind score Saturday as the odds-on favorite in Santa Anita’s 71st running of the Grade II, $150,000 San Carlos Handicap while covering seven furlongs in 1:21.85.

After being settled into fourth position by Garrett Gomez in the field of six, Georgie Boy rallied strongly while on the extreme outside rounding the final the turn to defeat Halo Najib by 2 ¾ lengths with his ears pricked.

“I squeezed him a little at the top of the lane,” said Gomez, “and he responded like it was a morning breeze. When we made the lead, I got into him a little bit just to keep him focused, to keep him from pulling himself up.”

Halo Najib, who had tracked the early pace of a tugging Yankee Bravo, held on for second under Rafael Bejarano, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of 9-2 second-choice Past the Point, ridden by Joel Rosario.

Georgie Boy, who was the 2-1 second choice when getting back on track with his dramatic 2 ½-length win in the Jan. 24 Sunshine Millions Sprint, paid $3, $2.40 and $2.10. Halo Najib returned $5 and $3. The show price on Past the Point was $2.80.

The victorious 4-year-old gelding, trained by Kathy Walsh for George Schwary, clearly established himself as one of the country’s top sprinters after missing seven months of his sophomore season with a back injury.

“It’s been very important for him to relax the last two races,” Walsh said. “It just took him a while to settle when he came back (finishing fourth and third, respectively). He became a little fresh.”

Said Gomez, “He was very workmanlike today. He’s a better horse when he can sit back and settle like we did. I was glad to see Alex Solis’ horse (Yankee Bravo) get rank and take off like he did. That made my job easier.”

Walsh said consideration will be give to stretching out Georgie Boy. He won the Grade II San Felipe Handicap at 1 1/16 miles in his only route try as a 3-year-old.

“I think he’ll stretch out, especially with Garrett riding him,” said the 68-year-old trainer. “He gets him to settle right away. No reflection on anybody else who rode him. He’s just been rank the first two races this year, and he’s been settling down in the mornings actually, and the exercise boys have been doing a great job with him.”

The San Carlos triumph added $90,000 to the earnings of the California-bred son of Tribal Rule, which increased his career total to $786,634 from a 6-2-2 record in 11 starts.

Gomez gained his second stakes victory of the afternoon and 14th of the meet when Bel Air Sizzle dead-heated with Onebadkitty in a secondary feature, the $100,000 Valentine Dancer Handicap for fillies and mares at one mile on turf. The winning time was 1:36.15.

The 7-2 second-choice in a field of seven, Bel Air Sizzle raced blocked through the stretch before Gomez finally found room between horses to surge in the closing yards and finish on even terms with Onebadkitty and jockey Aaron Gryder, who were sent off at odds of 7-1. Gambler’s Justice, with Joe Talamo in the saddle, finished third in the driving finish.

For Bel Air Sizzle, who paid $5.20 to win, the victory was her fifth in 16 career starts and ended an eight-race losing streak for the 4-year-old Unusual Heat filly trained by Barry Abrams for Madeline Auerbach and partners.

For Onebadkitty, who returned $7.80 for the victory, it was her third in eight starts. The 4-year-old Street Cry filly, trained by co-owner Brian Koriner, has been second four times and third in her other start.

Zambezi Sun, a leading marathon runner in France, is scheduled to make his United States debut for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap at 1 ½ miles on turf. The distance event heads a nine-race program that gets underway at 12:30 p.m.

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