After finishing sixth in Grade I and Grade II stakes races, Blingo
returned to turf, the surface of his maiden debut victory, and remained
unbeaten over grass footing on Friday with a hard-fought triumph in
Santa Anita’s $76,500 La Puente Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles.
Under a busy ride by Mike Smith, Blingo made good on his 3-5
favoritism by rallying to defeat Vibrato Jazz by one-half length with
Buffalo Billy gaining third, another length back, after veering in at
the start. The final time was 1:47.58.
“He was a tad slow at the start,” Smith said afterward. “Then
they kept slowing it down in front of him.” Tiz Point, the 3-1 second
choice, took the field of five through modest fractions of 23.42, 48.24
and 1:12.14 before fading to last. “I didn’t want to make an early
move,” said Smith, “but I had to.”
After tracking in third, Smith moved the gelded son of Artie
Schiller into contention while racing wide around the far turn.
Challenged by Vibrato Jazz and jockey Joel Rosario in deep stretch,
Blingo appeared to re-break in order to seal the victory.
“He’s getting better with each race,” Smith said of the $80,000
auction purchase trained by John Shirreffs for Jerry and Ann Moss. “I
think he’s going to be a good one.”
His connections plainly had ambitious plans for Blingo after he
broke his maiden by 2 ¼ lengths with a strong finish going one mile in
1:35.80 over Hollywood Park’s turf course on Nov. 25.
Three weeks later, he was chasing Liaison in the Grade I
CashCall Futurity at 1 1/16 miles over Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track
surface. He finished within three lengths of the winner. Blingo
subsequently ran sixth, 7 ¾ lengths behind Creative Cause, in the Grade
II San Felipe Stakes over Santa Anita’s main track on March 10.
“He’s a 3-year-old, it was early in the year, and he’s a horse
with a lot of talent,” said Shirreffs. “We took a chance and tried it.”
Shirreffs regretted that Blingo seemed “a little bit quiet that day.
Usually, he’s bouncing around a little bit.”
Blingo clearly demonstrated his determination in the La Puente.
He paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10. Vibrato Jazz returned $3.60 and $2.80.
Buffalo Billy, ridden by David Flores, paid $3.80 to show. The winning
purse of $45,900 lifted the earnings of Blingo to $102,900 from his two
wins in four starts.