INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 8, 2013)—Tale of a Champion parlayed a ground saving trip into the most significant win of his career, scoring a 10-1 upset in the $200,250 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
No better than fifth in five previous appearances in graded races, the 5-year-old son of Tale of the Cat prevailed by one length over 13-10 favorite All Squared Away in the Grade II.
The victory was the second in a row for Tale of a Champion, who had wrapped his Winter/Spring meet at Santa Anita with a win over McAllister Boys and eight others in the March Madness Handicap March 30.
Owned by Kretz Racing LLC and trained by Kristin Mulhall, Tale of a Champion, who is out of the Seattle Slew mare If Angels Sang, was ridden by Joe Talamo. It was a Spring/Summer meet high sixth stakes victory for the jockey.
Positioned on the inside while tracking pacesetter Lucky Primo and Slim Shadey, Tale of a Champion was angled off the fence into the stretch, collared Lucky Primo, then held All Squared Away safe in the closing yards. The final time for the 1 ¼ miles on turf was 2:01.27.
Privately purchased by his current connections last summer after beginning his career with four wins in five starts in Florida, Tale of a Champion, who paid $22.40, $7.20 and $5, is 6-for-14 lifetime. He’s earned $269,708.
“I think we’ve misplaced this horse before and he hasn’t had the best trips,’’ said Mulhall after her first graded win at Hollywood Park since Puerto Banus won the Sunset Handicap – which was then a Grade II – in 2003. “He feels like he wants to run two miles when he’s galloping. I told the owner about five races ago I’d like to see him go a mile and a half.
“We were trying to build his confidence up at Santa Anita. He’s been training really well. We’ve been working him short trying to get him to relax, but he’s been galloping out strong. We might come back in the (Grade III, $100,000) Sunset Handicap (July 14).’’
Talamo, who has won twice in three pairings with Tale of a Champion, said the bay is coming into his own.
“We really had a great trip,’’ he said. “He really impressed me when he won last time. The race set up perfectly for him today. My horse felt (All Squared Away) at the eighth pole and kept digging in.’’
Runner-up in the Grade II San Juan Capistrano April 21 at Santa Anita, All Squared Away flipped during the post parade, but quickly recovered. According to trainer Peter Miller, the 4-year-old Bellamy Road gelding spooked from the stable pony.
All Squared Away finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of Lucky Primo, who lost for the first time in four races over the Betfair Hollywood Park grass. He returned $3 and $2.80.
The show price on Lucky Primo, who was making his first start since winning the California Cup Classic last Oct. 13 at Santa Anita, was $4.60.
Niagara Falls, Lime Rickey and Slim Shadey, the 5-2 second choice and 122-pound top weight, completed the order of finish. Smart Ellis was scratched.
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