Saturday's $100K Lazaro Barrera Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park was won by THE CHOSEN VRON, ridden by Umberto Rispoli, trained by Eric J. Kruljac, owned by Eric J. Kruljac, Robert Fetkin, John Sondereker and Richard Thomburgh — in a clear-cut score.
THE CHOSEN VRON was not fast leaving the gate for Umberto Rispoli and trailed the field early on, while the dueling pacesetters opened the quarters in 21.32 and 44.29. Frontrunner LAUREL RIVER was hard pressed by 21-1 shot I'LL STAND TALLER through the backside, while THE CHOSEN VRON was reserved at the back about four lengths off the lead.
Turning for home, LAUREL RIVER shakes loose and opens up to a three length advantage, but Umberto Rispoli pushes the button on THE CHOSEN VRON and they charge past their rival to hit the wire in front by three and a half lengths. LAUREL RIVER ran a game second, WIPE THE SLATE finished third. The final time for the six and a half furlongs on dirt was 1:16.28.
"I could see they were going really fast, those two horses up front, and by the quarter pole my horse was right on top of them, he really kicked well in the stretch," said jockey Umberto Rispoli. "When I first came here, (J. Eric Kruljac) gave me so many winners, I'm happy to finally give him a stakes win."
We last saw THE CHOSEN VRON winning the Echo Eddie Stakes last month in stellar fashion but under a different rider, Mike Smith. It was an off-the-pace rally in which he completed the six and a half furlong assignment in a faster time of 1:15.80 compared with today's. Nevertheless, THE CHOSEN VRON proved too much to handle with a decent pace to run at.
"Short fields sometimes end up being like match races," said J. Eric Kruljac. "I knew my horse could rate. ... Doug (O'Neill) had a horse in there that looked like he would use as the rabbit, so that kind of eliminates the match race. He softened them up early and I don't know if it mattered, with the way the horse fired today. He's a pretty exciting horse, when you breed them yourself there's this extra pride that goes into it. I'm as excited as I can be."
THE CHOSEN VRON paid $3.20 to win, $2.10 to place, and $1.00 to show. He is by VRONSKY out of TIZ MOLLY by TIZ WONDERFUL. He's now won 3 of 4 total starts, notching his first graded stakes victory and pushing his overall earnings to $210,600. He achieved his highest speed figure to date with this effort.
Source: Equibase, MikeWillman, Paulick Report.