Off as the heavy 4-5 favorite, Ambitious Brew
sat a distant second to longshot Rangi, but reeled the pacesetter in crossing the dirt at the top of the stretch and prevailed in a head and head duel to the wire to take Friday’s $58,000 Pluto Purse allowance by a half length under Mike Smith, getting 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course in 1:11.24.
Trained by Marty Jones and bred in California by his owner, Pamela Ziebarth, a 4-year-old gelding by Tizbud, notched his third win in his sixth career start and paid $3.60, $2.80 and $2.10.
“I’ll talk it over with Pam and chances are that we’ll stay on the turf,” said Jones. “He’s been real nice coming down the hill and there’s a race on February 22, the Sensational Star…There’s a chance we’ll run in there if everything goes well.”
Although he opened up five lengths early, setting fast fractions of 21.58, 43.45 and 1:05.50, Rangi, ridden by Victor Espinoza, dug in gamely at the rail when headed three sixteenths of a mile from home and stretched the winner all the way to the wire while finishing 2 ¼ lengths in front of 3-1 second choice Kochees and Rafael Bejarano.
“He got the job done,” said Smith. “He still has a little ‘play’ in him. He gets to that last horse and he tends to hang on them a bit. He’ll lay on them, especially if he’s on the outside…You just worry about someone coming on his outside when he’s doing stuff like that.”
With the winner’s share of $45,240, Ambitious Brew hiked his earnings to $167,920.
English-bred Rangi paid $5.40 and $3.40.
Far back early, Kochees rallied through the lane but was no threat to the top two. He paid $2.80 to show.