We had a great card this past weekend at Santa Anita Park. Three graded stakes races got off the ground: The Tokyo City Cup (G3), which is a long-distance race over the dirt, won by a promising TIZNOW colt who notched his first Graded stakes victory; the Kona Gold (G3), a sprint contest which featured the return of a $3.65 million Baffert-trainee; and the Californian (G2), where top older horses clashed, producing a heated stretch duel to decide the winner. Without further adieu, let's get to recapping.
The $200K Californian Stakes (G2) was won by ROYAL SHIP, ridden by Mike Smith, trained by Richard Mandella, owned by Fox Hill Farms, Inc — in a heated a stretch battle!
ROYAL SHIP broke evenly for Mike Smith and took a tracking trip in second place off pacesetter COUNTRY GRAMMAR through fractions of 23.23 and 46.98. They ran a comfortable pace. Positions remained unchanged through the backside. With three furlongs to go, ROYAL SHIP engages COUNTRY GRAMMAR and the two of them kick on for home. INDEPENDENCE HALL is called on for more run, while the others are too far back to pose a threat. At the top of the stretch. Mike Smith fully extends ROYAL SHIP, imploring him to put away the ultra-stubborn COUNTRY GRAMMAR. Through the length of the stretch, ROYAL SHIP succeeds, prevailing by a neck. COUNTRY GRAMMAR has to settle for second, while INDEPENDNCE HALL settles for third. The final time for the one mile and one-eighth run over the dirt was 1:48.47.
ROYAL SHIP paid $13.40 to win, $5.80 to show, and $2.60 to place. He is by MIDSHIPMAN out of BELA VAL by VAL ROYAL. He improves his record to 6 wins from 12 starts, pushing his earnings to $203,305, while achieving his fastest speed figure in the effort.
The $100K Tokyo City Cup Stakes (G3) was won by TIZAMAGICIAN, ridden by Flavian Prat, trained by Richard Mandella, owned by MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm LLC — in an emphatic victory!
This was a one mile and one-half journey on dirt. TIZMAGICIAN broke on top and was hustled to the front by Flavian Prat, but conceded the lead to ZESTFUL, who was determined to show the way. They ran through opening quarters of 24.12, 47.87, and 1:38.56. They raced bunched up through the backside, no more than three lengths separating them front to back. As they reach the quarter pole, TIZAMAGICIAN cruises up to the lead and is running the strongest. ZESTFUL is under a heavy ride, while LURE HIM IN commences his rally from the back. But at the top of the stretch, TIZAMAGICIAN is set down for the drive and responds with a great energy — striding home powerfully, drawing off to win by almost ten lengths in the end. ZESTFUL held on for second while LURE HIM IN could only secure third. The final time was 2:32.45.
TIZAMAGICIAN paid $3.20 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. He is by TIZNOW out of MAGIC UNION by DIXIE UNION. He earns his first graded stakes victory, improving his record to 4 wins, 6 seconds from 16 starts. He pushes his earnings to $287,851 while achieving his highest speed figure of his career.
It's great to see TIZAMAGICIAN being given the chance to evolve his ability at age four. Let's not forget his sire TIZNOW was highly competitive at age 4, tussling with the best older horses from coast to coast.
The $100K Kona Gold Stakes (G3) was won by CEZANNE, ridden by Flavien Prat, trained by Bob Baffert, owned by Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John ‘Susan' Magnier, Derrick Smith, St. Elias Stable — in a smashing performance!
The $3.65 million purchased CEZANNE wasn't the quickest out of the gate and was positioned toward the rear of the field for Flavien Prat. The pace was dictated by BRICKYARD RIDE, who shot to the lead to set opening fractions of 21.18 for the first quarter and 43.60 for the half. AX MAN tracked the leader intently from second, while CEZANNE was reserved at the back. With three furlongs to go, CEZANNE is asked for run and he rides up the rail, improving to be on even terms with BRICKYARD RIDE at the quarter pole. CEZANNE cuts the corner nicely and then bursts forward with tremendous energy, opening up by a margin of ten lengths. There was no catching CEZANNE! BRICKYARD RIDE was left in his wake and finished second, AX MAN secured third. The final time was 1:14.71.
CEZANNE paid $5.80 to win, $2.40 to place. He is by Curlin out of ACHIEVING by BERNARDINI. He wins after being on the shelf for almost eight months, improving his record to 3 wins from 4 total starts. He pushes his earnings to $123,000, while achieving his highest speed figure of his lightly-raced career.