TWO HUNDRED-GRANDERS AT ONE MILE ON TURF
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 8, 2012)—California-bred Gervinho, who lost his footing momentarily approaching the quarter pole, launched a furious stretch rally under Rafael Bejarano to take the inaugural $100,000 Zuma Beach Stakes by one-half length, getting the one mile on turf in 1:34.59 and projecting himself as a likely starter in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (mile) Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.
Owned by California Horse Racing Board Chairman Keith Brackpool and trained by Carla Gaines, Gervinho, as the son of Unusual Heat was shuffled near the back of the pack as he approached the quarter pole.
“I thought he was going to go down,” said Bejarano. “He slipped and it threw me sideways, but he gave me a great kick through the stretch.”
Gervinho, named by Brackpool for the Ivorian soccer player who plays for Arsenal, Brackpool’s favorite soccer club in England, blew by Den’s Legacy and Garrett Gomez, who had stalked splits of 23.11, 46.62, 1:10.81 and 1:22.62 prior to taking the lead past the eighth-pole.
“We’re going to seriously look at the Breeders’ Cup Turf,” said Brackpool following the Zuma Beach, which was run as the third race. “That was quite a (stretch) kick.”
Brackpool also noted that today’s win had sentimental value. “The win was extra special for me today as it is my father’s 78th birthday. He (Brian Brackpool) got me interested in this sport and we have shared many great memories together. This just adds to the list of great memories. Horse racing does that!”
With the Zuma Beach winner’s share of $60,000, Gervinho’s bankroll swelled to $102,000 as he remained unbeaten in his second start.
The winner paid $4.20, $2.60 and $2.20.
Den’s Legacy, who was a well beaten fifth in the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes on Sept. 29, did everything but hold off the winner, and finished 2 ¼ lengths in front of the pace-setting third-place finisher Dancin Upside Down, who was ridden by Juan Hernandez.
Den’s Legacy paid $3.40 and $3.00. Dancin Upside Down returned $4.20 to show.
While the Zuma Beach had a formful ending, the inaugural running of the $100,000 Surfer Girl Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at one mile on turf produced an upset, as Riley Racing Stables’ Flashy Ways won going away by 2 ½ lengths under Joe Talamo in 1:34.45.
Trained by Richard Baltas, the Kentucky-bred by Catienus sat a close fifth in the field of seven early and was a length off the lead going to the quarter pole. A brisk pace of 22.95, 46.47, 1:10.47 and 1:22.59 was carved out by 3-1 second choice Upbeat Mood and David Flores, Bares Tripper and Martin Pedroza, and Truly Marie, with Martin Garcia up.
“We just had a perfect trip,” said Talamo. “Three of them went out there in a speed duel and we just sat behind. Then turning for home I turned her out and had a lot of horse. She’s bred up and down for the turf on her dam’s side.”
Talamo had also ridden Flashy Ways in her maiden $50,000 claiming score going 5 ½ furlongs on Polytrack Aug. 16 at Del Mar.
“Richard has done a great job with her. She was fit and ready to go today. Again, I just had a perfect trip with a good horse underneath.”
Flashy Ways paid $16.40, $6.20 and $5.20.
Undefeated in two starts, Flashy Ways picked up $60,000 for her Surfer Girl win, extending her bankroll to $81,600.
Runnerup Wishing Gate, who was the 2-1 post time favorite, settled next to last early, split horses in midstretch and finished strongly under Garrett Gomez but did not threaten the winner while finishing 1 ½ lengths in front of third-place finisher Somethingabouther and Victor Espinoza.
Wishing Gate paid $4.20 and $2.80, while Somethingabouther returned $4.80 to show.
Santa Anita will be dark Tuesday and Wednesday and live racing will resume Thursday through Sunday, with first post time each day at 1 p.m.