INGLEWOOD, Calif. (April 29, 2011)—El Martillo earned back-to-back victories for the first time in his career, rallying strongly in the final sixteenth of a mile to win a $60,000 optional claimer Friday night at Hollywood Park.
Able to stay close to the surprisingly pedestrian pace, the 6-year-old son of Tiznow and the Mountain Cat mare Mountain Dawn angled to the rail under jockey Martin Garcia and was up to prevail by a half-length as the 9-2 fourth choice in a field of five.
Trained by Bob Baffert for owner Maria Gomez, El Martillo completed the seven furlongs in 1:23.30. His second win over Cushion Track came after he had won his previous start March 11 over conventional dirt at Santa Anita.
In winning for the fifth time in 24 starts, El Martillo pushed his earnings to $217,700.
He paid $11.40, $4 and $2.40. Don Tito, the 9-5 favorite, was second, a half-length in front of 19-10 second choice Bet On Victor. Don Tito returned $3 and $2.10. Bet On Victor’s show price was $2.20.
In his first start since finishing second on the local turf last Oct. 16, Informed, the 2009 Californian winner, showed the way early through 23.83 and 47.13 fractions. He weakened to fourth, 2 ¼ lengths behind Bet On Victor and a half-length in front of Kelly Leak.
The Player’s Pick 5, which has a 14% takeout, the lowest for any bet offered in California, had its largest handle yet Friday night. The pool for the 50 cent minimum wager, which debuted April 21, was $195,584. There were 104 perfect tickets worth $1,132.80 apiece. Consolations with four of five returned $23.25.
Trainer Peter Miller teamed with owners Gary and Cecil Barber for a pair of gate-to-wire wins. Cat in the Forest took the first at 5-2, then 3-1 second choice Alaska Miss won the sixth.
Racing resumes Saturday. Post time is 1 p.m.
The main event on the nine race card is the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap, a Grade III for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf. Contenders include Well Monied, the 3-1 favorite on Russ Hudak’s morning line, Talktoomuch, Lilly Fa Pootz, Dubawi Heights and Chilean import Vamo a Galupiar.
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