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MILLIONAIRE BOLD CHIEFTAIN BEST IN SUNSHINE MILLIONS CLASSIC AS 11-10 CHOICE THE USUAL Q.T. FADES TO LAST TO END WIN STREAK
ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 30, 2010) – Trainer Bill Morey Jr. said his millionaire California-bred Bold Chieftain does things that “take your breath away,” and on Saturday the 7-year-old warhorse knocked the wind from the sails of 11-10 favorite The Usual Q.T. and seven others with a rousing neck victory over Palladio in Santa Anita’s $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic presented by Pepsi-Cola.
With Hall of Famer Russell Baze, North America’s all-time leader in races won, astride the son of Chief Seattle for the 24th time, Bold Chieftain proved best in a stirring stretch run as the eighth running of the mile-and-one-eighth event was negotiated in 1:48.33 before an on-track crowd of 21,487.
Fast-closing Florida-bred 8-year-old Palladio, ridden by Mike Smith, couldn’t quite overtake Bold Chieftain in the closing yards while besting 50-1 outsider Unusual Smoke, with Martin Garcia aboard, by one length for the place.
Following six straight victories on turf including three graded stakes races that had lifted him to stardom, The Usual Q. T. failed to duplicate his grass brilliance on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface. He dropped back to last after pressing the early pace set by Enriched until the far turn.
“This ranks right up there with any race I’ve ever won anywhere,” said the 51-year-old Baze who is closing in on 11,000 career victories. “We were in some pretty tight straits there turning for home.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get through or not, but a hole presented itself coming to the three-sixteenths and we got through, but then I had to check up, and we clipped heels. Even though we got through, I had that horse (Unusual Smoke) laying on me. It’s hard for a horse to move when he’s got horses laying on him like that, but he did it.”
Said Morey, “There were three veterans out there: the rider, the trainer and the horse. These are the kinds of things that leave you breathless and makes the game so much fun, and we’re supposed to have fun out there. There’s a little bit of money in it, too.”
The winning purse of $275,000 increased Bold Chieftain’s earnings to $1,406,411 for partners Dwaine Hall, Ernest Langbein, Ken Robinson and trainer Morey. It was his 15th win in 35 starts, 14 with Baze in the irons. Twelve of them have been achieved in stakes races in California during the past 3 ½ years. And, according to Morey prior to the race, it was supposed to be Bold Chieftain’s “last big dance.”
“He was really going to have to jump up with a monster today to continue thinking of going on,” Morey said in the joyous aftermath, “and he came through. So I guess he wants to keep going. He’s got the ball. If he doesn’t want to do it anymore, just let us know. But when he runs races like this, it’s pretty hard not to be looking down the road at another one.”
The 5-1 second choice in Saturday’s Classic, Bold Chieftain paid $12.20, $4.80 and $4. Palladio paid $6.60 and $4.40. Unusual Smoke, the longest shot in the field, paid $13.40 to show.
Jim Cassidy, who trains The Usual Q.T., thought the early pace pressure comprised his 4-year-old gelding. “The race set up badly for us,” said Cassidy. “There was too much pressure early. My horse got rank. We’ll discuss whether he’ll go back on grass, but right now, that’s certainly what I would think.”
Quisisana, a 5-year-old California-bred Decarchy mare, got Santa Anita’s portion of the bi-coastal competition off to a dramatic start by emerging victorious in a driving, three-horse finish in the $200,000 Filly & Mare Sprint presented by Grey Goose.
Racing between horses in the final sixteenth of the six furlong race, 6-1 shot Quisisana gamely staved off the furious finish of Dubai Majesty moments after running past Dotsy Jean on the rail.
The margin of victory for the Ran Jan Racing mare ridden by Rafael Bejarano was a nose with Dubai Majesty, handled by Jamie Theriot, edging Dotsy Jean and jockey Victor Espinoza by a half length. Bejarano’s win was his first of five riding victories on the 11-race program.
“When we got to the stretch, we were in perfect position,” Bejarano said. “I gave her a chance to switch leads, and she was really tough today.”
The final time was 1:08.47 after 2-1 choice Miss McCall took the field of 13 through fractions of 21.44; 43.75 and 56.00 before fading to fourth.
In posting her fifth win in eight starts over synthetic surfaces, Quisisana paid $15, $6.20 and $4.80. Dubai Majesty, second in the event last year, returned $4.40 and $3.40. The show price on Dotsy Jean was $5.80.
“She’s at her home on synthetics,” Quisisana’s trainer, Mike Puype, said in the winner’s circle. “They didn’t get by her. She’s not very big, but she’s gutty. They ran right to her and she held them off. Raffy gave her a perfect ride.”
The victory was worth $110,000 to the connections of Quisisana to bring her career total to $275,750 from an overall record of 5-1-2 in 10 starts.
The $300,000 Filly & Mare Turf presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino went to 9-5 favorite Tight Precision, a Florida-bred shipper trained by Tom Proctor, who displayed considerable determination in scoring by 1 ½ lengths over hard-trying pacesetter Bootleg Annie in the mile-and-one-eighth test.
With Joel Rosario in the saddle, Tight Precision tracked front-running Bootleg Annie and jockey Garrett Gomez into the far turn. Pretty Unusual made a menacing move through the stretch under Chantal Sutherland to gain a narrow lead over Bootleg Annie while the eventual winner was carried wide.
But Rosario urged Tight Precision to the front at the sixteenth pole and she quickly drew clear. Bootleg Annie, meanwhile, battled back to nudge Pretty Unusual by a nose for the place. The final time was 1:47.27.
“She’s a very classy filly,” Rosario said after dismounting from Tight Precision. “Going to the top of the stretch, I saw the three (Pretty Unusual) coming inside of me, but I wasn’t worried. My mare has got a real long stride, and when I asked her, she gave it to me.”
The winner returned mutuels of $4.40, $3 and $2.40. Bootleg Annie paid $5.80 and $4. Pretty Unusual paid $4.60 to show. Another Proctor-trained entrant in the field of eight, Closeout, finished fourth.
“I thought both had a nice chance,” said Proctor. “I thought the filly that won had the better trip. It’s just good to win a $300,000 race, and it’s nice to win in California. I haven’t been that lucky out here.”
While boosting her record to 5-3-2 in 14 starts, Tight Precision earned $165,000 for owner E. J. Sukley to elevate her career total to $$337,970. The Filly & Mare Turf was her first stakes victory.
Free Flying Soul is listed as the 5-2 morning line favorite among eleven fillies and mares set to contest Sunday’s 53rd running of the Grade I, $250,000 Santa Monica Handicap, centerpiece of a nine-race program that gets underway at 12:30 p.m.