MIDCOURT RALLIES TO WIN $75,000 COMMA TO THE TOP STAKES BY A NECK UNDER ESPINOZA; TRAINED BY SHIRREFFS, HE GETS MILE IN 1:36.89

MIDCOURT RALLIES TO WIN $75,000 COMMA TO THE TOP STAKES BY A NECK UNDER ESPINOZA; TRAINED BY SHIRREFFS, HE GETS MILE IN 1:36.89

ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 27, 2019)–A reformed head case, C R K Stable’s Midcourt was unhurried early and rallied boldly to take Sunday’s $75,000 Comma To The Top Stakes by a neck at Santa Anita.  Trained by John Shirreffs, the 4-year-old gelding by Midnight Lute got a flat mile in 1:36.89.

Idle since winning a first condition allowance going one mile at Del Mar Aug. 18, Midcourt, who has been a handful at times in the mornings, was last, about 8 ½ lengths off the lead heading into the Club House turn and was next to last, about six lengths off of favored Leading Score with three furlongs to run.

At that point, Espinoza asked him for his best and when the field turned for home, he was just off the lead while four-wide and prevailed in a head and head battle with Two Thirty Five to come away with the victory.

“In the afternoon, he shows up,” said Shirreffs, who following a protracted absence, took over the training of Midcourt leading into his 4-year-old debut on Feb. 19.  “We think the further he goes, the better he’ll get.  When this horse applies himself, he’s a really good horse.  We’ll probably run next in the Native Diver at Del Mar (Grade III, 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 23).”

Off at 6-1 in a field of five 3-year-olds and up, Midcourt, a Kentucky-bred who is out of the French Deputy mare Mayo On the Side, paid $15.60, $6.40 and $2.80.

“He’s getting so good right now, he’s taking everything on his own and he does things so easily,” said Espinoza, who’s now a perfect two for two with him.  “Horses, when they get into that rhythm, it’s kind of hard to get beat.  John Shirreffs has done an amazing job with this horse.  He is not very easy to deal with in morning, but John is an expert with those kinds of horses.”

A $450,000 Keeneland September Yearling, Midcourt was winless in a pair of starts at age two and did not run at age three.  He’s now won three out of his four starts this year and with the winner’s share of $47,250, his earnings total $138,695.

Attentive to the pace while third heading into the far turn, Two Thirty Five wheeled three-wide at the top of the lane and in a gutty performance, came up a neck short.  Ridden by Abel Cedillo, he was off at 3-1 and paid $4.80 and $2.20.

Heavily favored with Flavien Prat up, Leading Score was sent to the front but tired through the drive to finish third by 4 ¼ lengths over Ground Attack.  Off at 3-5, he paid $2.10 to show.

Fractions on the race were 23.14, 46.46, 1:11.28 and 1:23.97.

Racing resumes with a nine-race card on Thursday.  First post time is at 1 p.m.  For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.