Magnum Ends Long Tailspin with 16-1 Upset in Sunday's San Antonio

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 8, 2009) – Winless since May of 2006, which was two months after running second in the Santa Anita Handicap, 8-year-old gelding Magnum ran down Well Armed at odds of 16-1 Sunday in Santa Anita’s Grade II, $200,000 San Antonio Handicap to race back into consideration for the 2009 Big ’Cap on March 7.

With Joel Rosario aboard for the first time, Well Armed tracked the defending San Antonio champion though extremely pedestrian fractions during the 1 1/8-mile journey, but nonetheless was resolute enough to surge through the final sixteenth to triumph by one length.

Well Armed, who could not have enjoyed a more favorable pace scenario under Aaron Gryder, settled for second, 2 ¼ lengths ahead of 2-1 favored Tiago, whose customary late charge with jockey Mike Smith was blunted by the slow early going.

The final time of 1:49.14 followed splits of 25.26, 49.54, 1:13.90 and 1:37.14.

“I could see the horse on the lead was going easy,” said Rosario, “but my horse was comfortable, and I knew I had a lot of horse. I went after him (Well Armed) at the five-sixteenths pole, and he ran great. He’s got a long stride, and I think he’ll love a mile and a quarter.”

Magnum seemed to fancy that distance in 2006 when second by three-quarters of a length to Lava Man in the Santa Anita Handicap. But after winning the Grade III Lone Star Handicap two months later, he went into a tailspin.

His succession of losing efforts, interrupted by 1 ½ years on the shelf before returning in March of last year, reached eight prior to Sunday’s stunning upset.

Magnum paid $35.80, $11.60 and $5. Well Armed paid $4.40 and $3.20 while the show price on Tiago was $2.60.

According to trainer Darrell Vienna, Magnum’s absence from racing was the result of complications from an undescended testicle, which continued to cause pain despite ongoing treatment. “The only chance we had for him to continue running was to geld him or to stop racing him,” said Vienna. The Argentine-bred was eventually gelded prior to his last start, a third-place finish in the Jan. 10 San Pasqual Handicap.

“I thought we’d be fairly close, not exactly second, but I didn’t think he’d be too far back,” Vienna said in recounting the San Antonio effort. “The kid (21-year-old old Joel Rosario) rode him perfectly. He’s a nice rider, anyway. He was in a perfect spot. When you have a horse that’s a longer price, sometimes you take the wrong chances. He didn’t do that. He rode him like he was on the favorite.”

The trainer was pleased with the way Magnum handled Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface. “He was traveling so easily,” Vienna said. “It sure looks like he’ll go on to the Big ‘Cap, but you never know.”

Well Armed had been ticketed to race next in the Dubai World Cup on March 28. Tiago is being targeted for the Santa Anita Handicap. “I thought he ran great,” commented John Shirreffs, who trains Tiago who had not raced since running third in Oak Tree’s Breeders’ Cup Classic on Oct. 25. “He made a nice run,” added Shirreffs, “and he should move forward from that.”

Champs Elysees, third in last year’s Big ’Cap and the San Antonio’s third choice at odds of 3-1, could make little impact from behind and finished seventh in the field of eight.

The winning purse of $120,000 boosted Magnum’s earnings to $819,249 for owners Bill and Donna Mae Herrick while bettering the gelding’s lifetime record to 6-3-3 from 26 starts.

Following dark days on Monday and Tuesday, Santa Anita will resume racing on Wednesday with an eight-race program that begins at 1 p.m.