COMPARI RUNS OFF WITH SENSATIONAL STAR AS 10-YEAR-OLD SHADOW OF ILLINOIS FAILS IN HIS BID TO MAKE HISTORY

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan 1, 2010) – Ten-year-old gelding Shadow of Illinois fell well short of accomplishing an unparalleled feat in Santa Anita’s rich 75-year history when a sixth and last-place finish in Friday’s $100,000 Sensational Star Handicap deprived him the distinction of becoming the track’s oldest winner of a stakes race.

The gritty old-timer, who had missed 2 ½ years of action with a tendon injury during his sixth, seventh and eighth years, simply could not keep up with victorious 4-year-old Compari in the 6 ½ furlong contest over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan 1, 2010) – Ten-year-old gelding Shadow of Illinois fell well short of accomplishing an unparalleled feat in Santa Anita’s rich 75-year history when a sixth and last-place finish in Friday’s $100,000 Sensational Star Handicap deprived him the distinction of becoming the track’s oldest winner of a stakes race.

The gritty old-timer, who had missed 2 ½ years of action with a tendon injury during his sixth, seventh and eighth years, simply could not keep up with victorious 4-year-old Compari in the 6 ½ furlong contest over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.

The 13-10 favorite ridden by Garrett Gomez, who was celebrating his 38th birthday, Compari went to the lead immediately and was never seriously threatened in the event timed in 1:12.42 before an on-track crowd of 11,695. The winning margin over Enriched was 1 ¾ lengths.

Enriched, with Michael Baze aboard, finished three-quarters of a length ahead of Live Sundays and jockey Joe Talamo with Mobilize finishing fourth. Shadow of Illinois, with Alex Solis in the saddle, pressed the early pace while running third before gradually slipping out of contention. He wound up just over five lengths behind the winner and a nose behind fifth-place Big Bad Leroybrown.

Trained by Anthony Saavedra for his wife, Jennifer, Shadow of Illinois was the race’s 5-2 second choice, but, in an historic sense, he was facing a very tall order. Only five 9-year-olds have won stakes races in Santa Anita’s three-quarters of a century.

“That’s horse racing,” trainer Saavedra said afterward. “He was in a good spot. I didn’t see any excuses for him. Alex (Solis) said it didn’t feel like it was his day. But he said he felt fine, and that’s the important thing.”

In recording his fourth straight victory after a third place finish in his racing debut, Compari paid $4.60, $3 and $2.80. The payoffs on Enriched were $4.60 and $3.20. Live Sundays paid $3.40 to show.

Compari, trained by Marty Jones for the partnership of John Nicoletti, John Harris and Don Valpredo, rewarded his owners with $60,000 while bringing his career earnings to $272,665.

“He’s a really nice horse, a really competitive horse,” said Jones. “He’s 110 percent racehorse. He runs long, short, turf, dirt. It’s rare to get this kind of horse. We’re looking to the Sunshine Millions next (Jan. 30).” Commented Gomez, “He’s turned into a classy little horse, and Marty has done a great job with him the last six months.”

In the earlier Blue Norther Stakes, In the Slips was bet like she couldn’t lose the $70,950 event for 2-year-old fillies at one mile on turf, and win she did, but the 2-5 favorite in a field of seven was fully extended for her head victory.

With Gomez in saddle, In the Slips furiously rallied from sixth while racing on the extreme outside rounding the far turn to nudge Jet Blue Girl at the wire. The final time was 1:36.84.

The Kentucky-bred More Than Ready filly, who made her first five starts in England, was well-fancied in her United States debut on Nov. 29, Hollywood Park’s Grade III Miesque Stakes. At odds of 5-2, she came within one-half length of victory in the one-mile turf competition won by The Mallet.

Trained by Jeff Mullins for Michael House, In the Slips made up some six lengths in the late stages of the 13th Blue Norther to return $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10.

Jet Blue Girl, the game runner-up ridden by Solis, paid $4.80 and $3.20. Forbidden Paradise, who finished another 2 ¾ lengths back under Brice Blanc, paid $2.60 to show.

“I was very confident in her today,” Gomez said after dismounting from In the Slips. “I knew she was pretty much better than those other fillies. She’s becoming more Americanized, but I wanted to keep her covered up as much as I could. My only concern was that I wanted to make sure that she’d be able to quicken off the last turn, and she was able to do that. She finished up really good. She’s getting better and better.”

Mullins said he wasn’t sure what might be next for the bay filly, who earned $42,090 in the Blue Norther to push her career bankroll to $113,284 from a 3-1-1 record in seven starts.

Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic champion Life Is Sweet returns to action on Saturday in the Grade II, $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf. First post for the nine-race program is at 12:30 p.m.

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