INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 19, 2010)-Golden Itiz, the 9-10 favorite, got the job done in his graded stakes debut, wearing down Skipshot in the final yards to win the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap by a half-length Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Owned by Mace and Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable and trained by Ron Ellis, the 3-year-old Tiznow colt out of the Dixieland Band mare Golden Tiy won for the third time in a row. He’s 3-for-4 overall and the $240,000 yearling purchase increased his earnings to $118,080.
Ridden by Tyler Baze, who won the Affirmed for the first time, Golden Itiz assumed a tracking position outside of Gallant Gent and behind longshot Ranger Heartley, who sped to a clear lead in his first start since March 27, and Skipshot, who was stretching out to two turns after a disappointing fifth place finish in the seven-furlong Lazaro Barrera Memorial on May 22.
Under Joe Talamo, Skipshot took over the lead into the stretch from a tiring Ranger Heartley, but was unable to hold off Golden Itiz, who rallied outside of him, in the Grade III. The final time for the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track was 1:42.84.
“He’s a really nice horse,’’ said Baze, who also won the first with favored Big Wig. “He’s maturing and getting better and better. Last time he got an easy lead and they kind of let me walk the dog around there.
“Today was more of a learning experience for him. After we went around the first turn he just settled in so nice. It was just a matter of when I wanted to pull the trigger. He tries hard. Ever since I got on him the first time I knew he was something special.’’
Ellis indicated Golden Itiz will return in the $200,000 Swaps Stakes, a Grade II at 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track, on July 17. This race comes one week after Rail Trip, who has wins in the Mervyn LeRoy and Californian at the meet for the Siegels and Ellis, will seek to repeat in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.
The last trainer to win both the Gold Cup and the Swaps in the same season was the late Charlie Whittingham. He won the Gold Cup with Ferdinand and the Swaps with Temperate Sil in 1987.
No owner-trainer combination has ever won both races in the same year.
“He’s going to be one of those horses that really guts it out every time,’’ said Ellis. “I thought he was in a little bit of trouble at the quarter pole. I thought he was starting to get in a little deep, but as soon as he straightened out in the lane he knew what he was doing.
“He’s very professional for a young horse. He’s one that the plan has actually worked. You like to think they’re going to be good enough to do certain stakes races when you have them and you think they’re that good, so you try to put them on a plan that’s going to take them to those races. Everything’s worked out just right for him. I don’t think he got a whole lot out of his last race (an 11 ¼ length win in an optional claimer on April 28). This race will teach him a lot.’’
Golden Itiz paid $3.80, $3 and $2.40. Skipshot returned $4.20 and $3. Alphie’s Bet, the early trailer, rallied for third, a half-length behind Skipshot. He paid $2.80.
Summer Movie, who opted to run in the Affirmed rather than in the $100,000 Will Rogers on turf Sunday at Hollywood Park, was fourth, 1 ¾ lengths behind Alphie’s Bet. Ranger Heartley, Gallant Gent, Distorted Dave and Mindblower completed the order of finish.
The riding star of the day – in terms of victories – was Alonso Quinonez. He won three times, including back-to-back with Dish The Dirt in the sixth and Bran Jammas in the seventh.
There were three winning tickets in the Pick Six. Each was worth $39,804.20.
Racing will continue Sunday. Post time is 1 p.m.
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