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REVOLVING JOCKEYS LANDS BLANC ATOP MALIBU PIER IN GRADE II SANTA BARBARA HANDICAP UPSET; FAVORED REGALLY READY TAKES GRADE III SAN SIMEON
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 16, 2011) –Brice Blanc benefited from fellow jockey Rafael Bejarano’s judgment call Saturday when riding 7-2 shot Malibu Pier to a one-half length victory over 7-5 favored Cozi Rosie in Santa Anita’s 63rd running of the Grade II, $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles on turf.
Taking over for Bejarano aboard Malibu Pier, Blanc rallied the 4-year-old Malibu Moon filly from four lengths behind to assume command in deep stretch and withstand the determined closing rally by Cozi Rosie while covering the distance in 2:00.22.
Bejarano’s preferred mount, Turning Top, the 8-5 second choice, had to settle for a non-threatening fourth as pace-setting longshot Restless Soul hung on for third, three-quarters-of-a-length behind Cozi Rosie and jockey Mike Smith.
Trained by Carla Gaines for the Spendthrift Farm of breeder B. Wayne Hughes, Malibu Pier had been ridden in six of her eight previous races by Bejarano including her most recent, a one-length win over Turning Top in the Grade II Santa Ana Stakes on March 19.
Joel Rosario, riding out of town on Saturday, handled Turning Top in the Santa Ana. He replaced Blanc, who had been aboard the Irish-bred mare in her six previous races.
“I’ve had my eye on this horse ever since I saw who she was by,” Blanc said Saturday after dismounting from Malibu Pier. He had ridden Blue Moon, the chestnut filly’s dam, to victory in the 2002 running of Santa Anita’s Grade II Buena Vista Handicap for Hughes.
“I didn’t doubt her going a mile-and-a-quarter,” Blanc continued. “I had a beautiful trip. I was set on making the lead, but I saw Joe Talamo (aboard Restless Soul) kind of drew off. At that point, she took a long hold, and I didn’t want to move too early.
“When they drew off, she tried to test me a little. As soon as I got her covered, she just shut down and relaxed beautifully. After that, I just gradually moved my way outside and she drew away from everybody.”
“Brice did a great job,” said Gaines. “We just told him that she’s got the natural speed to take the lead going a mile-and-quarter, but if someone else took it, she’d relax, but just to remember and hold off. She’s got a great turn of foot, so he waited and used that at the end. It was a great result.”
As the third choice in a field of six, Malibu Pier paid $9.60, $3.80 and $3. The mutuels on Cozi Rosie were $3.40 and $2.80. Restless Soul, a 23-1 shot, paid $5.60 to show.
By virtue of her fifth win in nine career starts, Malibu Pier earned $90,000 from her second successive Grade II score. The winning purse elevated her lifetime earnings to $342,200.
With Smith in the saddle, Regally Ready gained his third straight win over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course when barely holding off a late charge by Camp Victory in the earlier Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Handicap.
After discouraging comebacker Victory Pete in a pace duel coming down the hill, Regally Ready spurted to a 2 ½-length lead in midstretch. The 4-5 favorite turned back the bid of another comebacker, Compari, while Camp Victory closed boldly between horses.
The winning margin was a nose, and the final time for the 6 ½ furlongs was 1:12.33. Camp Victory, ridden by Talamo, finished 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Supreme Summit with Bejarano aboard. Compari, the 3-1 second choice, wound up another neck back in fourth.
Trained by Steve Asmussen for the Vinery Stable of Tom Ludt, Regally Ready paid $3.60, $2.60 and $2.10. Camp Victory, sent off at 6-1 among six entrants, returned $4.40 and $3.20. Supreme Summit paid $3 to show.
The victory was the sixth in 12 career starts for the 4-year-old gelded son of More Than Ready. The winning purse of $60,000 raised his lifetime earnings to $297,978.
Corey Nakatani, who had ridden Regally Ready in his previous two wins, had an out-of-town riding commitment, which opened up the mount for Smith.
“My instructions were just to stay out of his way,” Smith said afterward. “This was my first time on him, but I had been chasing him, so it’s nice to be on his back.
“I knew the two outside horses (Victory Pete and Compari) had been away a while, so I was hoping I could shake loose of them and get a little breather. When we came to the dirt (crossing), they both fell back. That gave me the break I needed. My horse relaxed a bit, and that was the difference.”
Santa Anita concludes its 76th racing season on Sunday with the 72nd running of the historic San Juan Capistrano Handicap, a Grade II, $150,000 fixture at 1 ¾ miles on turf. First post for the 10-race program is at 12:30 p.m.