Moments after track announcer Trevor Denman had remarked,
“Caracortado did not fire today,” the 5-year-old California-bred gelding
unleashed a torrid closing rally to capture Sunday’s Grade III,
$100,000 Daytona Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s hillside turf
As Denman had suggested, it was an “unbelievable” finish by the
19-10 third-choice in an event that had been considered a preview to the
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint scheduled for the same course on the weekend
of Nov. 2-3.
As expected, defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion
Regally Ready and Mr Gruff, a winner of 5 of 6 over the layout,
alternated on the early lead in a field reduced to five starters after
the late scratch of Silver Summation.
Silver Summation reared and unseated two-time Eclipse Award
winning jockey Garrett Gomez as the runners left the walking ring.
Gomez, who has won six stakes at the meet, was transported to Arcadia
Methodist Hospital complaining of pain in his left heel.
Mr Gruff, the 19-10 favorite, proceeded to gain the early lead
by a head over 17-10 Regally Ready. Caracortado, with jockey Rafael
Bejarano sitting very chilly, was 15 lengths behind the leaders at the
half-mile mark. The leaders dueled through early fractions of 21.55 and
The winner’s dramatic late surge was executed on the extreme
outside with Bejarano never having to resort to the whip to drive
Caracortado to his stirring 1 ¼ length victory.
Victory Pete, with Martin Garcia aboard, passed the two
favorites to gain the place, one-half length ahead of Mr Gruff and
Regally Ready, who dead-heated for the show.
Caracortado had been able to make little impact on Regally Ready
when finishing fifth in the Grade II Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 5
at Churchill Downs after taking the Grade II Del Mar Mile.
Despite never having previously raced on Santa Anita’s unique
downhill course, the race appeared to set up well for Caracortado. He
was well-supported due to his acclaimed closing kick and the fact his
two principal opponents liked to do their running on or near the lead.
“He’s got that turn of foot that’s really unbelievable,” said
Mike Machowsky, who bred, trains and co-owns Caracortado. “But when the
horses hit the quarter pole, I started walking to the bar. I knew he
would fly home, but I couldn’t believe the way he was finishing. I
couldn’t believe how fast he went the last quarter-of-a-mile.”
It was estimated that Caracortado ran his final eighth-of-a-mile in a remarkable five seconds or under.
“I knew I had a lot of horse, so I didn’t want to use him too
early,” said Bejarano, who was riding Caracortado for the first time. “I
just tried to follow instructions from the trainer. He said not to go
too early and just wait for one big run. As soon as I crossed the dirt,
my horse was flying. This was the first horse that I’ve rode that has
this kind of finishing speed. He showed me a big kick. It was
With no show betting, Caracortado paid $5.80 and $3.60. Victory Pete paid $6.80 to place.
While gaining his ninth victory in 19 career starts, the gelded
homebred son of Cat Dreams earned $60,000 for Machowsky’s Lo Hi Racing
Stable and partner Don Blahut. Caracortado elevated his career earnings