Returning to a sprint after four lackluster efforts while routing in
stakes races, Senor Rain pulled off a huge upset Friday at odds of 21-1
in Santa Anita’s $58,350 allowance feature for 3-year-olds at seven
With apprentice Eswan Flores in the saddle, the gelded
Indiana-bred son of El Nino overtook odds-on favorite Consulado
and 3-1 Brigand in midstretch to finish 1 ½ lengths ahead of the latter
while timed in 1:21.50.
Trainer Peter Miller was so impressed that he didn’t rule out
the possibility of a Kentucky Derby pursuit. “If the horse takes us in
that direction, then we’ll go,” he said. “We’re not going to get out in
front of him; we’ll let him tell us.”
According to Flores, the race set up perfectly for the winner
after tracking leader Consulado and pace presser Brigand, who sped
through a half in 44.74. “It was nice to see the favorites putting so
much pressure on themselves early,” Flores said. “It helped set it up
for my horse.”
He noted that runner-up Brigand, who would finish 1 ½ lengths
ahead of 7-10 choice Consulado, tried to bite his horse during the
stretch run. “That helped me get by him,” said Flores.
The upsetter paid $44.80, $12.20 and $3.80. Brigand, ridden by
Rafael Bejarano, paid $5 and $2.40. Consulado, with David Flores aboard,
paid $2.10 to show. Hierro -- who wound up fourth, three-quarters of a
length behind Consulado – had a nightmarish trip under Corey Nakatani.
The 5-2 second choice, Hierro broke far behind the field and made a
determined run along the rail only to steady off another horse’s heels
nearing the eighth pole.
The victory was the third in nine starts for Gary and Cecil
Barber’s Senor Rain and his first since winning an allowance event by
four lengths at a mile in his only previous outing over Santa Anita’s
“This was a super performance,” Miller said in the winner’s
circle on Friday, “by far his best race. We’ll look at some stakes here
and around the country, and kind of play it by ear.”
His last four efforts while routing in stakes included a pair of
third place finishes, but Senor Rain was soundly beaten in his previous
start when running ninth in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at
Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 18.
The winning purse of $34,800 on Friday boosted Senor Rain’s
career earnings to $119,216. He had been purchased at public auction for
$38,000 in April of last year.
For the connections of Consulado, Friday’s feature was a large
disappointment. He had broken his maiden in spectacular fashion at Santa
Anita by 7 ¼ lengths while running 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15. He
subsequently set the pace going one mile before dropping back to second
behind Fed Biz, widely considered trainer Bob Baffert’s leading Derby
candidate before being sidelined by injury. Trainer Mike Puype had felt
that Consulado would regain his edge while returning to a sprint