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AT HOME ON TURF, ODDS-ON CHOICE REGALLY READY CRUISES TO VICTORY IN JOE HERNANDEZ STAKES
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 18, 2011) – Having found his niche on grass, heavily-favored Regally Ready cruised to a 1 ¾-length victory over Leroy’s Dynameaux in Friday’s fourth running of the $79,150 Joe Hernandez Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course.
Two factors had loomed large in Regally Ready’s favor: (a) his recently realized affinity for turf racing, and (b) his speed in an otherwise paceless field of seven. The public pounded him down to 1-2 favoritism with the co-second choices at 7-1, and Regally Ready delivered as expected in the race that memorializes the original voice of Santa Anita who served as the track’s announcer from its opening in 1934 until his death in February of 1972.
While racing on the lead under jockey Corey Nakatani, the 4-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready sailed through fractions of 22.50, 44.88 and 1:06.52 before completing his journey in 1:12.98.
Leroy’s Dynameaux, with Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, rallied from six lengths back to gain the place by one-half length over Gallant Son and jockey Mike Smith, who had teamed for second in last year’s Joe Hernandez.
Smith attempted to put some pressure on the winner early, but couldn’t keep up as Gallant Son drifted out badly while the runners crossed over Santa Anita’s main course upon entering the stretch.
Since being transferred to the turf in his eighth career start by trainer Steve Asmussen, Regally Ready has won 3 of 4 starts including two in a row over Santa Anita’s downhill grass layout. His only setback was a strong third in the Grade III Daytona Stakes on January 1.
“It’s nice to win a little stakes this horse,” Nakatani said in the winner’s circle on Friday after conferring with assistant trainer Scott Blasi, who had saddled Regally Ready. “He’s done things right,” Nakatani added, “and Scott was very confident in his ability to control the race. I pretty much had him in hand. I just made sure to get him around in good order, set him down, and he kicked home.”
Said Blasi, “I told Corey to just take care of him the first part and the rest of it, he’ll take care of.”
The winning mutuels were $3, $2.80 and $2.20. Leroy’s Dynameaux paid $7.40 and $4.20. The show price on Gallant Son was $3.40.
The winning purse of $47,490 increased the career earnings of Regally Ready to $237,978 from an overall record of 5-2-3 in 11 starts. He was purchased as a yearling for $110,000 by the Vinery Stables of Tom Lutt.
Blasi said Lutt and Asmussen are giving serious consideration to sending Regally Ready overseas to compete in England’s Royal Ascot race meeting.
The 44th running of the Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on turf tops Saturday’s 10-race program that includes the 14th running of the $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes for California-bred fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s hillside turf course. First race is at 12:30 p.m.