French-Bred Easter, With Dettori Up, Flies Late To Take $80,000 Lure Stakes By A Half Length
FRENCH-BRED EASTER, WITH DETTORI UP, FLIES LATE TO TAKE $80,000 LURE STAKES BY A HALF LENGTH & GETS ONE MILE ON TURF IN 1:33.40
ARCADIA, CA (Oct. 28, 2023)—Although favored at 2-1, French-bred Easter appeared hopelessly beaten a sixteenth of a mile from home but with superstar Frankie Dettori up, anything remains possible. And so it was in Saturday’s restricted $80,000 Lure Stakes at Santa Anita, as Dettori, stuck in behind a wall of horses in deep stretch, finally found a narrow seam between horses and burst clear in time to collar front-running Bally’s Charm and thus secure a half length victory.
Trained by Graham Motion and idle since Aug. 24 at Saratoga, Easter, in his first Southern California appearance, shipped in from his Keeneland base to notch his first career stakes win as he got one mile on turf in 1:33.40.
Unhurried in the early going, Easter had two horses beat when the field turned up the backside as Bally’s Charm and Hector Berrios showed the way. With Dettori desperately seeking out racing room, Bally’s Charm showed no signs of slowing down as he opened up a three length advantage with a furlong to go.
“I was thinking, ‘I wish somebody would put wings on this horse so we can fly over the top of them,’” said Dettori. “I was completely imprisoned on both sides and just needed the key to get out. I found an opening inside and I thought I still had a mountain to climb but the horse just took off and saved the day.”
Dettori, one of the greatest jockeys of all-time in his native England and beyond, had originally announced he’d be retiring from the saddle following the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships this Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita, but recently announced he will instead continue to ride in North America and will be based here at Santa Anita this winter.
“I feel great (and) it is amazing to come back and win (this) big race,” he said. “I’m going to spend an awful lot of time here next year, so I’m off to a good start and I feel so good to be here. This is, at the moment, where I belong.”
A close second in a classified allowance going a mile and one eighth over the Saratoga turf on Aug. 24, Easter, a 5-year-old gelding, was off as the 2-1 favorite among a field of eight and paid $6.00, $3.60 and $2.60.
Owned by Madaket Stables, LLC, Easter is now 17-5-3-3. With today’s winner’s share of $54,120, he increased his earnings to $327,910.
“I was like, ‘Oh no, we are in trouble here but once he got him out, the horse really kicked in and flew home,” said Alice Clapham, assistant to Motion. “He’s been training really well and we were really happy with him, so we were hoping he could show his true colors today.”
With the potent trainer-rider combination of Jeff Mullins and Hector Berrios in place, Bally’s Charm, one of two California-breds in the field, was clearly second best as he finished 3 ¼ lengths in front of Cabo Spirit. The second choice at 3-1, he paid $4.40 and $3.40.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Cabo Spirit, off at 11-1, paid $4.80 while finishing a half length in front of War At Sea.
Morning line favorite Astronomer was scratched earlier as his connections are hoping to run in next Saturday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Fractions on the Lure were 24.06, 47.52, 1:10.60 and 1:21.95.
First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 1 p.m. with admission gates opening at11 a.m.