INGLEWOOD, Calif. (April 24, 2010)-Alphie’s Bet made it three wins in his last four starts with an anticipated victory in the $200,000 TVG Snow Chief Stakes on Saturday at Hollywood Park.
The 18th running of the Snow Chief was the marquee event of the $910,000 California Gold Rush program, a series of eight stakes races restricted to California breds.
Sixth in the Santa Anita Derby three weeks earlier, Alphie’s Bet rebounded exiting a Grade 1 and now has three wins in seven starts for owners Peter O. Johnson Sr. and Teresa McWilliams, who bred the colt, and trainer Alexis Barba. He has earned $261,320.
After saving ground early under Mike Smith, who was riding the son of Tribal Rule for the first time since a fourth place effort against maidens last Dec. 5, Alphie’s Bet moved to the outside on the backstretch. He then moved closer to the leaders around the turn, then ran past pacesetter and 18-1 shot Working Capital in the final furlong.
Now 2-for-3 at 1 1/8 miles, Alphie’s Bet, who is out of the Candi’s Gold mare Miss Alphi, completed the distance in 1:51.15. The 7-10 favorite, he paid $3.40, $2.60 and $2.10.
“This makes up a bit for the Santa Anita Derby,’’ said Johnson. “That was very disappointing to us. He ran five wide the entire way. Mike Smith did a great job with him. He ran his race today.’’
Smith believes Alphie’s Bet’s best days are ahead of him.
“He’s still a big, young boy and still has a lot of play in him,’’ said the Hall of Fame rider. “He hasn’t really gotten serious about it yet. He is figuring it out race by race and I think down the road they might have a really nice colt.’’
Making his second start for trainer Doug O’Neill after being claimed for $40,000 out of a maiden victory in March, Working Capital set the pace under Joel Rosario and paid $9.20 and $6.40. He finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of Mr Tokyo, a 29-1 outsider, who paid $6.80 to show.
Three races earlier, another prohibitive favorite got the job done. U R All That I Am, the 1-2 choice, won for the second time in as many starts on the Hollywood Park main track, taking the $147,000 B. Thoughtful Stakes.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for owner-breeder Tommy Town Thoroughbreds LLC, the 4-year-old filly prevailed by a half-length over Ruffled Feathers. The final time for the 7 ½ furlongs was 1:30.81. Lady Alex finished third.
A daughter of Valid Wager out of the Fort Calgary mare Fort Silver, U R All That I Am has now won seven of 14 and earned $270,188. She paid $3, $2.40 and $2.10.
Joel Rosario, who was aboard U R All That I Am when she won the Cat’s Cradle here last Nov. 15, had to do some maneuvering en route to the finish. He wanted to avoid Witchy Meeting, who was running loose. The 6-year-old mare unseated David Flores after rearing at the start.
“All I wanted to do was keep her as far away from the loose horse as I could,’’ said Rosario. “At about the five-sixteenths pole, I could see (Witchy Meeting) was drifting out a bit, so I made my move inside her. I knew I had a lot of horse, so I thought I could wait a little longer just to be safe.’’
Flores escaped injury and rode the remainder of the card. In fact, he won the day’s final race, the $60,000 NTRA Stakes, going wire-to-wire on 5-1 shot Fun And Frolic.
Flores gained the mount on Witchy Meeting when Joe Talamo was late returning from Louisville. Talamo had worked Kentucky Derby hopeful Sidney’s Candy earlier in the day at Churchill Downs and he missed his first four rides on Saturday.
The biggest surprise in Gold Rush races worth more than six figures was provided by Fantasy Free in the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes.
Dispatched at 10-1, the 5-year-old Free House gelding out of Cat Ballado, a Saint Ballado mare, rallied along the rail to win over Bestdressed and six others.
Saving ground throughout while racing just behind the early leaders, Fantasy Free and Omar Berrio found some room inside the final eighth of a mile and went on to the half-length victory. He paid $22.80, $8.60 and $5.60.
Trained by A C Avila for owner Roddy Valente, Fantasy Free won for the eighth time in 41 starts and has earned $299,884. The win was his second in six attempts since being claimed by his current connections for $25,000 last Dec. 12.
In terms of odds, Fantasy Free was the more lightly regarded of the pair Avila started in the Tiznow. Rush With Thunder, his other entrant, finished fifth at 5-1.
Avila, however, was not astonished by the outcome. “I was asked about Rush With Thunder before the race, but I was telling everyone that (Fantasy Free) is cheap, but at the top of his game,’’ said Avila. “From December to now he has gained something like 60 pounds.
“I told Omar that I thought he was going to beat `Thunder today, but he didn’t think so. I told the owners of Rush With Thunder that if you want to go, let’s go, but Fantasy Free is going to beat you.’’
Bestdressed ($4.40 and $3.40) came from last to gain second a year after finishing third in the same race a year ago. Mobilized ($6.60) was one length back in third. Liberian Freighter, the 2-1 favorite and defending Tiznow champion, faded to sixth after being part of the pace.
There was a milder upset in the $150,000 Melair Stakes. Camille C, the 3-1 second choice, never looked back in winning by 3 ¼ lengths over Salty Fries.
A 3-year-old Roman Dancer filly out of the Rahy mare Paris Operetta, Camille C won for the third time in 13 tries for owner Carlos Polanco and trainer Marcelo Polanco. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, she ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.57 and pushed her bankroll to $269,551. She paid $8.20, $4.60 and $2.20. Salty Fries returned $6.40 and $2.60.
“She kind of stumbled at the break a little bit, but I knew there wasn’t much speed,’’ said Bejarano, who had three winners on Saturday. “I just let her go to the lead on the first turn because they were going so slow. She was relaxed the whole way. I think she likes this track better than Santa Anita. I had so much horse at the end. I even think she can go a little bit farther.’’
La Nez, the odds-on favorite at 7-10 with Smith, never threatened. She wound up third, 9 ¾ lengths behind Camille C. She paid $2.10 to show.
Form prevailed in the first two Gold Rush stakes. Money Lover ($6) led throughout under Smith to win the $60,400 Alphabet Kisses. Uncle Don, who also returned $6 as the same 2-1 favorite, followed with his third win in a row, capturing the $71,600 Grey Memo in tandem with Rosario.
The other Gold Rush event was taken by yet another 2-1 shot. Excellent News ($6.60) and Bejarano teamed to win the $73,200 Warren’s Thoroughbred.
Racing resumes Sunday at Hollywood Park. Post time for the nine race program, topped by the $100,000 Inglewood Handicap for older horses at 1 1/16 miles on turf, is 1 p.m.
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