Under a perfectly timed ride by Joel Rosario, favored Bourbon Bay earlier avenged a defeat by 11-1 Slim Shadey in the mile-and-one-quarter San Marcos Stakes six weeks previous when nailing the latter in the final strides of the 61st San Luis Rey at 1 ½ miles. The final time over a course labeled “firm” despite increasing rain showers was 2:25.78.
The outcome of the San Luis Rey was tantamount to a homecoming for the victorious 6-year-old gelding trained by Drysdale for David and Jill Heerensperger. The fourth-place finish in the San Marcos was an anomaly on the Santa Anita turf record of Bourbon Bay. He had won 5 of 6 previous starts over the Camino Real Turf Course while missing by a nose in his only setback. “His last race was a bit screwed up,” said the British-born Drysdale.
“This is really a good horse,” said Rosario. “I’ve never been on him before, but he has a nice turn of foot.” Rosario took over for regular rider Rafael Bejarano, who had an out-of-town assignment. “My horse felt good on the track,” Rosario continued. “I don’t know how the others handled the rain, but everything worked out perfect for my horse.”
Rosario settled Bourbon Bay into fourth early among the five marathoners. He dropped his mount three lengths behind fourth-place Slim Shadey with one-half mile to go. “I don’t know what he was doing so far back,” commented Drysdale.
“I wouldn’t change anything about the race today,” said David Flores, who rode 4-1 second choice Slim Shadey. “The favorite (6-5 Bourbon Bay) had to come and catch me if he was good enough, and he did. At the last turn, I was stalking the leaders perfectly. I tried to get away from them at the top of the stretch, but I got caught on the wire. I knew I got beat, but I was just hoping I got the bob.”
Hog’s Hollow, who had led into the stretch with Garrett Gomez in the saddle, faded to third, 2 ½ lengths behind Slim Shadey. The winner paid $4.40, $2.60 and $2.20. The mutuels on Slim Shadey were $4.20 and $2.60. Hog’s Hollow paid $3.20 to show.
The winning purse of $90,000 increased the career earnings of Bourbon Bay to $878,536 from an 8-5-4 showing in 25 starts. Drysdale said the historic Grade II San Juan Capistrano at 1 ¾ miles on the meet’s closing day, April 22, would be next for the bay gelding.
“He’s a very good campaigner, but he doesn’t like deep turf,” noted Drysdale. “That’s one of the drawbacks, so I was concerned about the course because he didn’t like it soft.” The condition of the course, fortuitously enough, was changed to “good” following the San Luis Rey, which was conducted as the day’s fourth race.
Suffice it to say, the 64-year-old trainer’s concerns about Rosario’s unfamiliarity with Bourbon Bay were unfounded at the wire. “I thought he waited too long,” Drysdale remarked, “although it’s very difficult to judge this course, how fast it is, when it starts raining. It’s very difficult.”
Vamo a Galupiar, on the other hand, had won over “good” and “soft” turn courses in his native Chile. The Santa Ana marked her fourth U.S. start and her first graded win after having taken only the ungraded Megahertz Stakes in three previous races in this country.
The 5-year-old mare, owned by Robert S. Evans, rallied from ninth in the Santa Ana’s field of 10 to overhaul Wild Mia while closing on the extreme outside. The latter, handled by David Flores, nosed out 67-1 shot Hard Seven for the place. City to City finished another nose back in fourth, three-quarters-of-a-length ahead of Camelia Rose, the 17-10 favorite.
Vamo a Galupiar rewarded her backers with payoffs of $17.20, $9 and $6.60. The mutuels on Wild Mia, sent off at 11-1, were $10.60 and $6.60. Hard Seven, ridden by Edwin Maldonado, paid $15.40 to show.
Smith said the footing suited the winner. “The ground has actually been on the hard side the past few days,” he said, “so the rain actually did us some good. The course had a give to it, which is really good for my filly because she handled the off-track. I think if you look at her past performances, she’s won every time the course has been soft, and that’s what it was today. It was a bit soft, but very safe.
“The horse was a victim of circumstances last time,” Smith added. Vamo a Galupiar had finished sixth, 1 ¾ lengths behind City to City in the Grade II Buena Vista. “She comes from out of it, so sometimes you get trapped when that happens, and that’s exactly what happened last time,” said Smith. “She didn’t have anywhere to go and the rail was way out. Today, I was able to get out of the one-hole, get clear, and she pretty much took over from there.”
“At one stage in the stretch I wasn’t sure she was going to get there,” Drysdale said, “but she dug in and proved her worth. Mr. Evans has been very patient and when they come from South America, you have to give them lots of time and he was willing to do that. This is the reward.”
Evans was rewarded with $90,000 as the career earnings of Vamo a Galupiar rose to $190,512 from a career record of 5-1-0 in eight intercontinental starts. Drysdale said he expected the next start for the chestnut daughter of Proud Citizen would come in the Grade II Santa Barbara Handicap at 1 ¼ miles on April 21. “I don’t think a mile and a quarter will be a problem,” said the trainer.
Following dark days Monday through Wednesday, racing will resume at Santa Anita on Thursday with an eight-race program that commences at 1 p.m.