INGLEWOOD, Calif. (December 9, 2011)—Champions Gate was successful in his turf debut, turning away a stubborn Baby Blake after a race long duel to win the $59,006 feature Friday at Hollywood Park.
The 7-10 favorite in a race reduced to six starters after the scratches of Got Even and 2-1 morning line favorite Sweet Swap, Champions Gate prevailed by a half-length in 1:09.94 for six furlongs.
Both Got Even and Sweet Swap, a full brother to Sidney’s Candy, were reported sick.
Ridden by leading jockey Joel Rosario, Champions Gate, a 2-year-old gelded son of Pure Prize and the Northern Afleet mare Amadamprez, won for the second time in four starts.
Bred in California by owner Don Dizney, Champions Gate increased his earnings to $97,240 for trainer Mike Machowsky.
Shortening up after disappointing as the 19-10 favorite when fifth in the California Cup Juvenile Oct. 29 at Santa Anita, Champions Gate broke well to establish the lead with 6-1 shot and newly-blinkered Baby Blake in close pursuit. Those two drew clear from the rest of the field with Champions Gate always maintaining the advantage.
In providing Rosario with his second win of the day, enabling him to take a 25-23 lead over Rafael Bejarano in the jockey standings with seven days remaining in the Autumn meet, Champions Gate paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10.
Baby Blake, who was making his first start since June 11 for trainer Mike Pender, returned $5.40 and $3.40. He finished 3 ¾ lengths in front of Heart Fever. The show price on Heat Fever was $2.60. Completing the order of finish were Runstevierun, the 5-2 second choice, Crimson Giant and Super Candy.
Joe Talamo and Martin Garcia also won twice Friday. Garcia, who won the third with Small But Mighty and the fifth with Adios Problemas, is third in the standings with 22 wins.
Mike Mitchell doubled, winning back-to-back with Small But Mighty and Hurricane Lake, to move into a tie with Bob Baffert for the lead in the trainer standings. Baffert and Mitchell each have 13 victories.
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