HIT THE ROAD ALL BUSINESS IN WINNING $100,000 ZUMA BEACH STAKES BY 2 ¼ LENGTHS UNDER ESPINOZA; TRAINED BY BLACKER, HE GETS MILE ON TURF IN 1:34.33
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 6, 2019)–Although he encountered some early traffic trouble, trainer Dan Blacker’s Hit the Road settled nicely and unfurled an impressive turn of foot through the lane to draw off to a 2 ¼ length tally in Sunday’s $100,000 Zuma Beach Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, the 2-year-old More Than Ready colt got a flat mile on turf in 1:34.33.
Breaking from post position three in a field of seven juvenile colts and geldings, Hit the Road was making his first start since breaking his maiden in similar fashion at one mile on turf July 28 at Del Mar.
“This was my first time on this horse and he showed me a lot,” said Espinoza, who got the mount due to the fact Joe Talamo was away to ride in New York today. “The favorite (Encoder) came out on me going into the first turn, so I had to take him back, and we ended up last around the first turn. I was really impressed with how he handled it, because when I asked him to pick it up, he was very strong. He’s got a long stride and he covers a lot of ground. That was impressive.”
Off at 7-1 in his third career start, Hit the Road, who is out of the U S Ranger mare Highway Mary, paid $16.60, $8.40 and $5.00.
Owned by D K Racing, LLC, Radley Equine, Inc., Taste of Victory Stables and Rick Gold, Hit the Road bagged $60,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $96,951.
“He got sick the day we were going to run him at Del Mar (explaining his absence since July 28),” said Blacker. “But he had been working well and we expected a big performance. Victor rode him awesome. He did a great job, I’m just so thrilled for the owners for giving me a chance with a horse like this…”
When asked if the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Nov. 1 was an option, Blacker said, “I hope so, if he gets in. When we bought him, we knew he had a grass pedigree and hopefully would run well on turf, but you never know until they do it.”
Ridden by Abel Cedillo and trained by Doug O’Neill, War Beast led throughout, but was no match for the winner late, finishing second by a neck over Billy Batts. Off at 17-1, War Beast paid $16.20 and $8.00.
The second choice at 7-2 with Tiago Pereira, Billy Batts finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of Encoder and paid $4.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.21, 46.81, 1:10.65 and 1:22.78.