INGLEWOOD, Calif. (November 24, 2011)—Trainer Bob Baffert added a record fifth Hollywood Prevue to his resume when favored So Brilliant led virtually throughout in the Grade III Thursday at Hollywood Park.
A little more than one month since a debut victory at Santa Anita, So Brilliant was a bit slow to begin after veering in at the start, but took over through a moderate opening quarter mile (22.94), repelled a challenge from longshot Hodge along the inside, then withstood the late bid of Brother Francis.
A 2-year-old gray son of Medaglia d’Oro and the Wekiva Springs mare Merry Me in Spring covered the seven furlongs over Cushion Track in 1:22.96. Owned by Arnold Zetcher, So Brilliant, who won by a half-length, picked up $60,000 of the $100,000 purse to increase his earnings to $87,000.
Ridden by Martin Garcia, the 7-5 choice returned $4.80, $3.20 and $2.60. A maiden making the second start of his career, Brother Francis, a 5-1 shot, paid $5.20 and $4.20. The son of Lion Heart, who won the 2003 Prevue, was the runner-up in his initial outing Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.
Hodge, a 21-1 outsider who defeated Brother Francis 19 days ago, paid $5.60 to show. He finished 1 ¼ lengths behind Brother Francis.
“He’s still learning day to day,’’ said Garcia of the winner. “He has a lot more than he showed today. He’s still a little green.
“He broke in a little bit, but went right on with it. Let me tell you, he’s a good horse. He was doing everything on his own, I didn’t even have to ask him.
“I got into him in the stretch because I could feel the others were gaining, but when he feels another horse coming up to him, he just takes off. He’s such a nice horse.’’
Completing the order of finish in a field reduced to seven after the scratch of Sweet Swap, were Sheer Talent, Muchos Besos, Empire Way and Galex.
A chestnut son of Flatter and the Othello mare Oh Caramel, Galex went wrong with about three-eighths of a mile to run. Second behind eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Secret Circle in the Jack Goodman Stakes Oct. 10 at Santa Anita, Galex suffered injuries to his left front ankle and sesamoids and had to be euthanized.
Before Thursday, Baffert’s other Hollywood Prevue victories were with In Excessive Bull (1996), Commitisize (1997), Premier Property (1998) and Massive Drama (2007).
The win by 11-10 favorite Muny in the third race was the 860th at Hollywood Park for trainer Mike Mitchell, moving him into second place on the all-time list. Charlie Whittingham has 859 victories. Bobby Frankel is the leader with 952.
This was the second milestone Mitchell, 63, has achieved in 2011. He became the winningest trainer in the history of Del Mar when Backwoods Belle gave him his 437th victory Aug. 12.
Racing resumes Friday. Post time is 12:30 p.m for the beginning of the three-day Turf Festival.
The first of two Grade I Festival events over the holiday weekend is the $250,000 Matriarch. Scheduled for one mile, the Matriarch attracted a quality field of fillies and mares, including defending champion Gypsy’s Warning, Summer Soiree and Never Retreat.
The 10 race program Friday also includes the Grade III Miesque for 2-year-old fillies. Like the Matriarch, the Miesque is one mile.
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