ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 18, 2009) – French-bred Blue Chagall, who didn’t achieve his first U.S. victory until his eighth try two months ago at Del Mar, underscored his turnaround at Santa Anita on Sunday when dominating Oak Tree’s $65,980 Lure Stakes at one mile on turf.

With Garrett Gomez in the saddle, Prestonwood Racing’s 4-year-old gelding powered through an opening in midstretch and ran off to a 3 ½-length triumph while leaving three of his seven rivals to await a photo finish that decided the place and show.

Australian-bred Gothic Samurai gained the edge for second by a head over pace-setter Yacht Spotter with Colony settling for fourth another nose behind in the stakes race run in 1:34.14.

“When we turned for home,” said Gomez, “I was able to slide right up inside of the four (Gothic Samurai), and my horse really responded fast. He was real handy today. He ran great.”

The second choice behind 3-2 Tiz West, who finished a non-threatening sixth, Blue Chagall paid $6.80, $4 and $3.20. Gothic Samurai, with native Australian Kayla Stra aboard, paid $7.60 and $2.80. The show return on Yacht Spotter, ridden by Tyler Baze, was $5.

A Group III winner in France in 2007, Blue Chagall could do little in this country in three stakes races. His performance level showed little improvement when dropped into optional claiming ranks.

“Since he’s become a gelding, he’s a different horse,” said trainer Julio Canani. “I gelded him three races back, and he’s been a nice horse since.”

Blue Chagall turned the corner at 6-1 in the optional claimer at Del Mar on Aug. 15 when he scored by 1 ¼ lengths, defeating runner-up Gothic Samurai by 1 ¼ lengths in the process.

The Lure Stakes marked his fourth victory in 15 career starts. The winning purse of $40,000 elevated Blue Chagall’s career earnings to $162,708.

Following two dark days, Oak Tree racing will resume on Wednesday at Santa Anita with the beginning of a 5-day racing week. First post is at 1 p.m.