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LATE SURGE LIFTS CREATIVE CAUSE TO VICTORY OVER BODEMEISTER IN GRADE II SAN FELIPE STAKES AND INTO FAVORITE’S ROLE FOR GRADE I SANTA ANITA DERBY ON APRIL 7
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 10, 2012) – Creative Cause, Heinz Steinmann’s gray son of Giant’s Causeway, reaffirmed his status as the West’s leading 3-year-old Saturday with a convincing victory in Santa Anita’s 75th running of the Grade II, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.
Ridden to perfection by Joel Rosario, Creative Cause rallied from fifth in the field of 10 to overtake trainer Bob Baffert’s sterling maiden winner Bodemeister in the closing yards and surge to a three-quarter length triumph in 1:41.84.
The commanding performance firmly entrenched Creative Cause into the favorite’s role for the April 7 renewal of the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, taken by the San Felipe winner in six of its last 15 runnings.
The 2-1 second choice after having finished third at 1-2 in his seasonal debut, Creative Cause clearly benefited from the sprint experience in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 19.
But the gray colt trained by Mike Harrington still had to call upon all of his class to run down slightly favored Bodemeister, who was making the enormous leap from maiden race winner to graded stakes competitor with Rafael Bejarano in the saddle.
Rosario took the winner extremely wide around the final turn and as the field straightened away, Creative Cause drifted out even wider before his rider was able to square him away.
As a result, he didn’t get to the 2-1 Bodemeister as hastily as it appeared he might. But when he finally did pull even, Creative Cause dramatically asserted himself. “I don’t know exactly what the story was,” said Harrington, “but once he switched leads, he took off.”
Third-place finisher Midnight Transfer, ridden by Victor Espinoza, was never a serious factor. He finished 2 ¼ lengths behind Bodemeister.
American Act, guided by Martin Pedroza, took the lead directly after the start with Bodemeister on his flank. They raced through fractions of 22.95, 46.98 and 1:11.23 before the latter took over rounding the far turn.
“The race set up perfect today,” said Rosario. “There were a couple horses with speed up front, and when I saw that, I just let him find his stride and go from there. My horse was a little green at the top of the lane, but I wanted to make sure that he didn’t wait for another horse to come beat him.
“He galloped out good after the wire which helps to show he may be the right horse for the (Kentucky) Derby. That means a lot to me. I’m happy to get a chance to ride in it, and I want to win the race.”
Asked to describe his feelings in the winner’s circle, the 70-year-old Harrington said, “It’s a real relief to get these kinds of things over with. This was a $300,000 (race); he didn’t have to win it, but these are the kind of races you like to win. . .I said all along it’s a progression and the only thing I hope is that he doesn’t peak in the Santa Anita Derby instead of the (May 5) Kentucky Derby.
“That’s my job to kind of keep that from happening,” added Harrington. “I felt he would run big off the San Vicente. A lot of people thought the San Vicente was a bad race. I was ecstatic with it.”
Baffert was pleased by the showing of his lightly raced colt. “Bodemeister ran well,” he said. “He just got a little tired. He ran a pretty hard race.” Said Bejarano, “My horse ran a really good race. The other horse had to run really hard to beat me. He tried really hard, and it was only his third race.”
For Creative Cause, the victory was his fourth in seven starts. The $135,000 sales purchase earned $180,000 to lift his earnings to $729,000. He paid $6.40, $3.40 and $2.60. Bodemeister paid $3.40 and $2.80. Midnight Transfer paid $6 to show.
Returning to turf following a third-place finish in the Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes, Lady of Shamrock stormed home earlier in the day to score her third straight win on grass when capturing the $74,500 China Doll Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile.
With Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith moving to within six wins of the 5,000 career victory milestone, Lady of Shamrock rallied from next to last in the field of nine to score by 1 ½ lengths over Vionnet in 1:33.73. Indigo River, the 2-1 favorite, finished another three-quarters of a length back in third.
Purchased by Hronis Racing for a bargain $11,000 at auction in May of last year, Lady of Shamrock was transferred to the barn of John Sadler late last year and promptly won Santa Anita’s Blue Northern Stakes on Dec. 30 by 2 ¾ lengths under similar conditions.
A Kentucky-bred daughter of Scat Daddy, Lady of Shamrock paid $6.40, $3.80 and $2.80 for her victory in the China Doll. Vionnet, ridden by Espinoza, returned $6.40 and $4.00. The show price on Indigo River, with Rosario aboard, was $2.60.
The winning purse of $44,700 elevated Lady Shamrock’s career earnings to $135,400 from 3 wins in 6 starts.
Home Sweet Aspen, winner of the Grade I Santa Monica Stakes on Jan. 28, will attempt to add Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Las Flores Stakes for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs, featured event of a nine-race program that gets underway at 12:30 p.m.