TOTAL BULL LIVES UP TO PROMISE WITH WIN IN ROUTE DEBUT

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 26, 2010) – Lightly raced 5-year-old Total Bull, a son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus who had disappointed in two previous sprints, ran to the expectations of trainer Bob Baffert when routing for the first time on Friday in Santa Anita’s $49,200 allowance feature at 1 1/16 miles.

With Martin Garcia sending Total Bull to the lead from his outside position in a field of eight, the bay owned by Hal and Patti Earnhardt was in control throughout and withstood a stubborn stretch-long bid by Launching Pad to prevail by one-half length in 1:42.88.

Making his racing debut in November of his 4-year-old season last year, Total Bull won as the 13-10 favorite before twice running second at odds of 11-10 in a pair of ensuing sprints. “The route should be a good spot,” Baffert said prior to Friday’s race. “I’ve given him enough sprint races. He had been going too fast and getting a little tired.”

“He ran really well and he never gave up,” jockey Garcia said in the winner’s circle. The determined Launching Pad, ridden by Victor Espinoza, held the place by a neck over a fast closing Poker Dave with Rafael Bejarano aboard.

Favored for the fourth time in his fourth start, Total Bull paid $5.40, $3.40 and $3. The mutuels on Launching Pad were $6.80 and $4.60. Poker Dave paid $4 to show.

“My horse has a lot of speed,” said Garcia, who rode Total Bull for the first time. “Last time (Feb. 5), he was pulling going seven eighths and he went the first quarter that day in 21 and four. Today, we went in 24 and four, and he was very relaxed.”

Said assistant trainer Jim Barnes, deputizing for Baffert, “Martin did what he needed to do, which was go straight to the rail and slow ’em down. This horse has never seen a 24 and four quarter before, and he loved it. He fought today, and I was glad to see that. He ran really good.”

While boosting his record to 2-2-0 in four starts, Total Bull earned $28,800, which elevated his career total to $68,800.

The Grade III, $150,000 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, heads Saturday’s nine-race program with first post at 12:30 p.m.

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