With Joe Talamo in the saddle, Peachtree Stable’s son of Smart Strike tracked War Politics through leisurely early fractions, cruised to the lead rounding the far turn, but was extended through the stretch before drawing clear in the closing yards.
Afterward, Talamo said it was easier than it might have looked for Achilles. “I shook the whip at him, but I never had to hit him,” said the winning jockey. “He waited a little bit on that other horse. He did the same thing in his first race. But it’s kind of a good thing. They know when to save themselves. This is an intelligent horse, and it was fun riding him.”
Trained by Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale, the $140,000 yearling sales purchase had rallied from last in a field of seven to win his racing debut at one mile on turf one month earlier. Among those he defeated that day was third-place finisher Brother Francis, who subsequently would run fifth in last Saturday’s Grade I Santa Anita Derby.
“He’s done well since he’s run,” Drysdale said of Achilles prior to Thursday’s race. Talamo said he expected to be on the lead this time with little apparent speed in the lineup. But War Politics, who had won his previous two starts from off the pace, took control early. Relatively slow fractions of 24.14, 48.89 and 1:13.14 helped War Politics preserve himself for the stretch run.
Achilles paid $3.20, $2.80 and 2.10. The prices on War Politics were $6.20 and $3. Press Baron returned $3 to show. The winning purse of $34,800 boosted the winner’s earnings to $68,400.
On Friday, Santa Anita offers free General Admission for an eight-race program as part of its revived “Free Fridays” series which includes hot dogs, sodas and beer for $2 each. First post is at 1 p.m.