INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 15, 2011)—A return to sprinting proved the winning move for 6-5 favorite Bench Points in the $100,000 Lazaro S. Barrera Memorial Stakes Sunday at Hollywood Park.
Cutting back in distance after a pair of two turn efforts at Santa Anita, including an off-the-board finish in the Santa Anita Derby April 9, the 3-year-old California bred rallied from last in the field of five to edge 2-1 second choice Runflatout.
This kept the gelded son of Benchmark and the Free House mare Mo Chuisle undefeated in five races at seven furlongs or less. Now 5-for-7 in his career, Bench Points has earned $278,200 for owners Donnie Crevier, Linda Mariani, Charles Martin and Mary Jo Zuraitis and trainer Tim Yakteen.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who has been aboard for all but one of his victories, Bench Points covered the seven-eighths of a mile in 1:22.50. He paid $4.40, $2.40 and $2.10.
As is his custom, Bench Points was outrun early while Flightofalifetime and Ain’t No Other carved out the fractions, swung wide into the stretch, then won a thriller over Runflatout. The margin was a nose.
Making his first start since he was eased after being part of a wicked pace in the San Felipe Stakes March 12 at Santa Anita, Runflatout, who was ridden by Garrett Gomez, paid $3.20 and $2.40. The show price on Ain’t No Other, who had a five race win streak snapped, was $2.60. Ain’t No Other, who opened a clear lead into the stretch while drifting out a bit, finished 2 ¼ lengths behind the runner-up.
The Bob Baffert trained duo of Sinai and Flightofalifetime completed the field.
“Mission accomplished,’’ said Yakteen after his second graded stakes win at Hollywood Park, the first coming with Stratham in the 2006 Will Rogers. “Everything worked out well for us.
“Now we’re back where he’s best. We’ll keep him sprinting. We have no plans right now. We’re just going to see how he comes out of this race and give him plenty of time. If we’re lucky enough, we’ll go the Smiling Tiger route with him. That was a pretty nice campaign (trainer) Jeff (Bonde) put together for him. But, obviously you have to have the horse. Right now, I’m pretty excited about his prospects.’’
Smiling Tiger won the 2010 Barrera en route to being a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter.
This was the first win in the race for Bejarano, whose best previous finish was a second aboard Afleet Ruler in 2008.
“He broke well and I was trying to get him to relax behind the speed,’’ said Bejarano. “I knew Runflatout was going to be tough at the end, so that’s why when I saw him move a little bit from the three-eighths (pole) I tried to get close to him.
“When we came to the stretch, the horse in front (Ain’t No Other) was lugging out and (Runflatout) reacted right away. My horse kept running and showed me a big kick.’’
There was one perfect ticket in the Pick 6 Sunday. The return was $425,343. There was $646,393 wagered in pursuit of a Saturday carryover of $80,019.
Racing resumes Thursday. Post time is 1 p.m.
The Hollywood Park Casino continues to offer dark day simulcasting Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Admission is free.
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