But the 7-year-old gelding, aggressively ridden by Garrett Gomez, was all out to overtake Fire With Fire and Irish-bred longshot Barney Rebel in a three-horse blanket finish to conclude the mile-and-one-eighth Santa Anita turf feature raced in 1:46.86.
Holladay Road rallied on the extreme outside to score by a neck over Fire With Fire, making his Santa Anita debut for trainer Neil Drysdale with leading rider Joel Rosario aboard. Fire With Fire nosed out 30-1 shot Barney Rebel, making his first U.S. start with Eswan Flores in the saddle.
The winner, trained by Canani for Gary and Wendy Broad, had his task complicated by having to rally from next to last in the field of eight after Glowing Spirit and Barney Rebel took the contestants through moderate early fractions of 23.47, 48.33 and 1:11.59.
Gomez, sensing the slow pace, moved his mount into hailing distance nearing the far turn before swinging to the extreme outside for a clear run down the homestretch. “He got to idling on me a little bit,” said Gomez, “but he got there in time.”
Claimed by Canani on July 31 of last year at Del Mar for $25,000, Holladay Road has become an outstanding acquisition. His victory on Thursday was his fourth in seven starts for his current connections while earning $242,940.
Canani said this would be Holladay Road’s final start of the meeting. “I’m going to wait and look for a Cal-bred race.”
A California-bred son of Street Cry, Holladay Road paid $3.60, $2.60 and $2.40. Fire With Fire returned $5.20 and $4.80. Barney Rebel paid $6.60 to show. The winning purse of $46,800 elevated the career earnings of Holladay Road to $323,660 from a 7-1-2 record in 15 races.
Santa Anita offers free General Admission – along with $2 beers, hot dogs and sodas -- on Friday when presenting an eight-race program with first post at 1 p.m.