It wasn’t like pitching a perfect game or getting the winning hit in the seventh game of the World Series, but for trainer Frank Lucarelli,
winning his first graded stakes at Santa Anita was pretty special.
The 56-year-old Lucarelli saddled Stormy Lucy to win Sunday’s Grade II Santa Ana Stakes by a length-and-a-half as the 9-2 third choice in the 1 1/8-mile turf race.
Rafael Bejarano was aboard the 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic mare owned by Erica Gaunt for the first time, replacing Isaias Enriquez.
“All I told Bejarano was, ‘You do the riding, but she’ll go anywhere.’ She’ll go inside, between ‘em, around ‘em, over ‘em. She’s an easy horse to get around there. You’ve just got to find the right spot.
“I love Isaias Enriquez. He rode her very well in the mile and an eighth here (Robert J. Frankel Stakes) to get beat a nose . . . But anytime you can get Rafael on a horse, you have to be very thankful for that and it certainly had a great outcome. I’ve won a couple smaller stakes here but this is my first graded win at Santa Anita and I’ve been training for 35 years, ever since I got released from the minor leagues (laughing).”
Lucarelli made training his bones mainly at Emerald Downs in Washington State and in the Bay Area. Despite Sunday’s historic win, he plans to continue to pick his spots in Southern California.
“I love Emerald Downs,” Lucarelli said. “That’s where I get these horses going. Stormy Lucky's first start was at Emerald Downs. The good ones I take to the Bay Area and the better ones I try to filter to Santa Anita. I kind of run up and down, but now, Washington and Golden Gate are my main spots.
“I don’t know that I have the horses or the owners to have a greater presence in Southern California. What works for me is training at Golden Gate. When I need to come to Santa Anita and run a horse or two, I do.
“I love Santa Anita and I’d love to spend more time here, but being realistic about the horses I have and what I can do, it wouldn’t make sense to try and make a big move.”