INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 19, 2009) — Jockey Joseph Talamo, playing cat and mouse on the lead, guided 6-1 outsider Black Astor to a two-length victory over odds-on favorite Spring House in the $150,000 Sunset Handicap on Sunday’s closing day program at Hollywood Park.
Black Astor opened a big lead early, got a rest on the backstretch as Talamo allowed the gap to close, then finished strongly to win the 68th running of the 1 ½-mile marathon in 2:27.10 on the Lakeside Turf Course.
Porfido finished another half-length back of Spring House in third, while second-choice Obrigado finished last in the field of four.
“He’s such a neat horse,” Talamo said of the winner. “He’s got such a big heart that when he gets to the lead he wants to just keep going. When he went that slow first quarter I said, ‘man they’re going to have trouble catching him.’ That’s the first time he’s relaxed like that on a loose rein. I can’t really take all the credit. He was pretty much the only speed in the race and was able to open up early without taking a lot out of him.”
The victory in the Grade II event was the first in a Hollywood Park stakes race for trainer Lisa Lewis.
“I thought that the horse is a marathon type horse, but until they actually go the distance, you don’t know,” she said. “I can’t say this was my plan, first race back to go a mile-and-one-half, so I was a little concerned about that. I thought he was training pretty good, but until they go a mile-and-one-half, you just don’t know. He’s a fast horse. He’s not just a plodder — he’s a real fast horse.”
Black Astor, a 5-year-old, won for the fourth time in 16 races while making his first start since January. The winner’s share of $90,000 boosted his earnings to $229,624. He paid $14.40 and $4, while Spring House returned $2.20. There was no show betting.
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