HEAVILY FAVORED GIFT BOX ROMPS TO 3 ¾ LENGTH WIN IN GRADE II, $200,000 SAN ANTONIO AS ROSARIO & SADLER TEAM FOR 1 1/16 MILE WIN IN 1:42.73
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 28, 2019)–The defending champion and heavily favored in today’s Grade II, $200,000 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita, Hronis Racing’s Gift Box acted the part as he waltzed to an emphatic 3 ¾ length win under Joel Rosario. Trained by John Sadler, the 6-year-old horse by Twirling Candy got a mile and one sixteenth in 1:42.73.
A winner of this year’s Grade I Santa Anita Handicap three starts back on April 6, Gift Box had been idle since running fourth in the Grade II Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs June 15, but was plenty fit today as he controlled proceedings throughout while registering a gate to wire triumph.
“He was fighting the track in the Stephen Foster,” said Sadler. “He was going against horses that trained there. He has run against quality horses wherever he has run, so today we said, ‘Let him run a little more free and we had a good result.”
Off at 6-5 in a field of seven 3-year-olds and up, Gift Box paid $4.40, $2.80 and $2.20.
“He kind of broke a little slow, but then (he) got going a little bit,” said Rosario, who has ridden him in all five of his starts with Sadler. “I got to the first turn and he was in front and he was able to keep going from that position and take it all the way.”
Originally based in New York with trainer Chad Brown, Gift Box, who is out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Special Me, has now won three out of his four starts with Sadler, dating back to his Southern California debut in the San Antonio one year ago.
With the winner’s share of $120,000, Gift Box, who registered his third graded stakes win today, now has earnings of $1,127,060 while improving his overall mark to 18-6-6-2.
Ridden by Tyler Baze, longshot King Abner, who tracked the winner in second position through, finished 3 ¾ lengths in front of Midcourt and paid $13.60 and $5.60 while off at 24-1.
Midcourt, who came into the race on the heels of a four game winning streak, never threatened the winner and finished third, 4 ½ lengths clear of Fight On. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Midcourt was the second choice at 2-1 and paid $2.60 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.95, 47.33, 1:10.99 and 1:36.13.