Bejarano, who seems to have developed a special rapport with the 6-year-old gelding, unexpectedly sent Hog’s Hollow to the lead, nursed him through six furlongs in a modest 1:14.53 and kicked home in 2:01.27 to defeat runner-up Highway Bandit by 3 ¾ lengths.
Highway Bandit, an 11-1 shot ridden by Joe Talamo, edged Dynamic Host and jockey Joel Rosario by three-quarters of a length for the place. Falcon Rock, the even-money favorite who had finished second to Eclipse Award winner Acclamation in last May’s Grade II Jim Murray Handicap, finished a well-beaten fifth while returning from a two-month freshening
The winner paid $14.60, $5.80 and $2.80. The prices on Highway Bandit were $11.40 and $4.60. Dynamic Host, the 9-5 second choice, paid $2.20 to show.
Hog Hollow’s victory was worth $36,000 and elevated his career earnings to $166,050 from an overall record of 3-4-3 in 21 starts.
On Saturday, Santa Anita presents five stakes races headed by the Grade I, $300,000 Santa Monica Stakes as part of Sunshine Millions Day. The 10-race program will have a special early first post at 12 noon.