Photo: Benoit Photo
Mike Machowsky's long-running trainee Big Kick took to the front and never looked back to wire the field in the Grade 2, 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano on closing day at Santa Anita Park.
Under Victor Espinoza, Big Kick broke sharply and held a comfortable lead early on, drawing well clear of the field midway through the marathon. Dr Action and Black Spirit followed in tandem in second and third through the first six furlongs. Bailoutbobby, Starspangled Heat and Quick Casablanca brought up the rear of the pack. American Act broke slowly and was never in contention before being eased by his rider.
Dr Action backed off of the pace, leaving Black Spirit to follow Big Kick alone. Big Kick opened his lead to as much as ten lengths ahead of his rival. Entering the far turn, The wagering favorite, Quick Casablanca picked up his pace and gave chase. With Joe Talamo aboard, Quick Casablanca began to close on the leader, but could not catch the winner, who maintained a margin of victory of about three lengths.
Starspangled Heat finished third and Bailoutbobby was fourth.
Big Kick set a pace of 1:12.19, 1:37.19, 2:02.69 and 2:28.94 and finished the 1 3/4 miles in 2:46.78. The winner paid $11.60, $4.40 and $3.00.
Lideris, who fifth in yesterday's Gold Cup, and Irish Surf were scratched.
The San Juan Capistrano is the first graded stakes win for the 5-year-old gelding, who has been running in the Optional Claiming ranks this year at Santa Anita. He improves his record to 5-2-1 from 19 starts with the winner's share of the $200,000 purse pushing his earnings over $250,000.
Bred in Ontario by Adena Springs, Big Kick is by Tiznow out of the Mr. Greeley dam Diamant Lady. He is campaigned under the partnership of Ernest Marchosky, Ken Shaw and Kate Walters and Lo Hi Stable