Trainer Bob Baffert continued his domination of the young 2011 Santa Anita meet when Euroears scored an easy front-running 2 1/4-length upset in the $150,000 Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 22, dealing odds-on favorite Smiling Tiger a third consecutive defeat.
Making his first start for Baffert, James and Marilyn Helzer's Euroears was ridden to victory by Mike Smith at 9-1 odds while clocking an outstanding time of 1:07.23 for the six furlongs on a fast track. Euroears, a 7-year-old son of Langfuhr, registered his first graded victory and gave Baffert his 19th win of the meet from 43 starters.
Captain Cherokee, who chased Euroears in second throughout, was the runner-up with Joe Talamo aboard. Smiling Tiger acted up in the gate, failed to break alertly from the rail post for Russell Baze, and took plenty of dirt from the hustling Euroears. The two-time grade I winner, sent off as the 2-5 favorite, gave up the fight in the lane while holding onto third narrowly over Baffert's more fancied runner Ventana.
Euroears, formerly in the Bret Calhoun barn, had not raced since fading badly in the Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Churchill Downs turf July 4, finishing 13th.