INGLEWOOD, Calif. (April 23, 2011)—A stretch to 7 ½ furlongs proved no problem for Amazombie as the talented gelding won for the third time in four 2011 starts, taking the $125,000 Tiznow Stakes by 2 ¾ lengths Saturday at Hollywood Park.
The Tiznow was one of the highlights of the 12th California Gold Rush, a day featuring eight stakes – including the $60,000-plus NTRA, which was run in divisions – and total purses of more than $845,000 for California breds.
Victor Espinoza, the winningest rider in Gold Rush history, added a pair of victories to his resume and both were surprises.
The more lucrative was with Nahem, a 12-1 outsider, who won a narrow decision over 15-1 shot Woodmans Luck in the $150,000 Snow Chief.
This was the 19th Gold Rush win for Espinoza, who had scored earlier in the day with Warren’s Knockout ($30.40) in the $71,200 Grey Memo.
Switching to a synthetic surface after a head loss on turf in his final start of the Santa Anita season March 13, Nahem was reserved off the pace while in the clear, and was able to get up late and win by a head over Woodmans Luck, who trailed for most of the trip.
Owned by breeders Harris Farms and Michael and Cory Wellman and trained by Paddy Gallagher, Nahem, a 3-year-old Bertrando gelding out of the Moscow Ballet mare Miss Bev Hills, won for the second time in five starts. He ran the 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track in 1:52.20.
The win for Espinoza was his third in the Snow Chief, tying him with Laffit Pincay, Jr. for the lead. Espinoza had won previously with Vote Of Honesty (1997) and Da Stoops (2006).
“I thought I was going to get there, but I wasn’t expecting the outside horse (Woodmans Luck) to come running,’’ said Espinoza. “I knew the favorites were starting to get tired the last sixteenth and I knew I had them. About 10 yards before the wire, my horse switched to the wrong lead and I thought at that moment it might have cost me the race. This horse is not that easy to ride. He’s still learning and a little bit immature.’’
Pushing his earnings to $134,400, Nahem paid $26, $10.60 and $7.80. Woodmans Luck, the longest price in the field of seven, returned $13.60 and $6.20. A half-length back in third was Thirtyfirststreet, who paid $4.20 to show.
Completing the order of finish were Chiloquin, the 5-2 favorite who weakened a bit late after showing the way, Burns, who had some traffic problems, Offlee Wild Boys and Drink At Buster’s.
The 5-2 second choice, Drink At Buster’s was pulled up shortly after the finish and was vanned off with an apparent injury to his left front leg.
Successful earlier in the year in the Sunshine Millions Sprint and Potrero Grande at Santa Anita from slightly off the pace, Amazombie led virtually throughout in the Tiznow, completing the distance in 1:29.06 over Cushion Track.
Owned by Thomas Sanford and trainer Bill Spawr, the 5-year-old son of Northern Afleet and the In Excess mare Wilshe Amaze won for the eighth time in 18 starts. He’s earned $493,708.
With Joel Rosario subbing for Mike Smith, who was in New York to ride Astrology to a second place finish in the $150,000 Jerome Stakes on closing day at Aqueduct, Amazombie paid $4.20, $3 and $2.40.
In his first start since finishing eighth in the Al Quoz Sprint March 26 in Dubai, Quick Enough, a 9-1 shot, gained the place, 1 ¼ lengths in front of Mobilized, who also finished third in last year’s Tiznow. Quick Enough returned $7.80 and $5.40. The show price on Mobilized was $3.80.
“Before we gelded him, it would take about four of us to saddle him,’’ said Spawr of Amazombie. “He just gets better and better. Right now, we’ll just enjoy this and give him a little bit of a break. The way he handled the track today, we might just wait and run him in the ($250,000) Triple Bend (Handicap).’’
A Grade I at seven furlongs, the Triple Bend will be run Saturday, July 2 at Hollywood Park.
“He’s a good one,’’ said Rosario. “He just goes out and does his job every time. I had a lot of confidence the whole way. He was strong all the way to the wire.’’
About an hour earlier, Rosario earned the first of his three Saturday wins, making it back-to-back victories in the $125,000 B. Thoughtful, rallying for a one length score with favored Ultra Blend.
Rosario, who won the 2010 B. Thoughtful aboard U R All That I Am, is now 4-for-6 in tandem with the 5-year-old daughter of Richly Blended and the Desert Classic mare Ankha.
Trained by Art Sherman for owner Nels Erickson, Ultra Blend, who has won three of four over Cushion Track, surged outside to collar pacesetter Lady Railrider in the closing yards.
Covering the 7 ½ furlongs in 1:30.40, Ultra Blend, the 124-pound highweight, earned her ninth victory in 20 starts. She lifted her bankroll to $535,646. Her mutuel supporters received $3.60, $2.40 and $2.10.
A winner of two in a row at Golden Gate Fields earlier in the year, Lady Railrider returned $4.40 and $2.60. Excellent News, winner of the 2010 Warren’s Thoroughbred, paid $3.60 to show.
Rosario also won the $125,000 Melair as Miles Rules, in her first venture beyond six furlongs, held on to defeat 11-1 shot Scremaing Regal.
Trained by Cliff Sise, Jr. for owner-breeder Halo Farms, Miles Rules, a 3-year-old Tribal Rule filly out of the Bien Bien mare Fair Bianca, opened a big lead around the turn and into the stretch, wobbled coming to the wire and had just enough left to prevail by a nose.
The victory was the third in four starts for the 2-1 favorite and increased her bankroll to $145,200. She completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.09.
“I broke a little slow and I sent her because I wanted to take the lead,’’ said Rosario. “That’s the way she runs. She was pulling a little, but not too bad. She was fighting to the end, but just got a little tired.
“It was her first time going long. I think she’ll do better next time. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who won the photo, but I was pretty sure she had held.’’
Miles Rules paid $6.80, $4.60 and $3.60. Screaming Regal, who finished 3 ¼ lengths ahead of third place finisher Warren’s Flyer, returned $9.20 and $5. The show payoff on Warren’s Flyer was $4.80.
Bejarano continued his love affair with Gold Rush Day as he tripled, giving him 11 victories in the last three years.
Two of the wins Saturday were in Gold Rush events – giving him 10 in his career and moving him ahead of Alex Solis into second on the all time. Bejarano’s other victory came aboard Averoo in the day’s only non restricted race.
Bejarano repeated in the $70,400 Warren’s Thoroughbreds, squeezing through along the rail aboard Going for a Spin en route to a 2 ¼ length decision over Zenidekka, who set the pace as the longest shot in the field at 21-1. Bejarano won the 2010 renewal with Excellent News.
A three-time riding titlist at Hollywood Park – including last year’s Oak Tree meet – Bejarano also won the second division of the NTRA with 4-5 choice Awesome Indy. On My Honor, the even-money favorite, captured the initial division under jockey David Flores.
The final Gold Rush race, the $63,200 Alphabet Kisses, went to Sparkling Style, a debuting 3-year-old daughter of Badge of Silver ridden by Martin Garcia for owner Arnold Zetcher and trainer Bob Baffert. The 6 ½ length win was a record ninth in the Gold Rush for Baffert.
Racing resumes Sunday. Post time is 1 p.m. The feature on the Easter program is the $100,000 Inglewood Handicap. A Grade III at 1 1/16 miles on turf, the Inglewood drew six entrants, including 2009 Hollywood Derby winner The Usual Q.T.
Besides The Usual Q.T., who has won two of three on the local grass, the field includes Liberian Freighter, Honour the Deputy, Ryehill Dreamer, Kelly Leak and Jeranimo.
There is also a Super High 5 carryover, the second of the meet. The carryover for the wager, which is offered in the last race daily, is $25,644.
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