, fresh off a nightmarish trip on turf at Del Mar, pressed
the pace in Saturday’s $175,000 Lava Man California Cup Classic and
finished resolutely under comebacking jockey Tyler Baze, getting the 1
1/16 mile marquee event for Cal Breds in a rapid 1:42.05, winning by a
half-length in his first-ever victory on natural dirt.
The Classic, for 3-year-olds and up, was carded as the ninth
race and was one of six statebred stakes on Saturday’s 10-race program,
attracting a field of seven.
“He trains well on synthetic over at Hollywood (Park), but he’s
run on this dirt course last year a couple times,” said trainer Joshua
Litt, who is also the co-breeder and co-owner of the 6-year-old Atticus
gelding. “He ran good…He handles everything pretty much. I think he’s
probably best on grass but he handles anything.”
For Baze, who was recently reinstated after a year-plus absence
due to a failed Breathalyzer test at Del Mar in August, 2011, the
Classic was his first stakes win since returning to the saddle on Oct.
“At this stage of my career I’m definitely appreciating things
more, especially the ( horses) everybody’s giving me right now,” said
Baze, who was America’s Eclipse Award winning apprentice jockey in 2000,
and who will turn 30 on Oct. 19. “I’ve got a whole lot of live horses
people have been putting me on and it’s just a blessing.”
With 7-5 favorite John Scott looming menacingly off the turn for
home, Lucky Primo, who had sat second behind longshot Got Even through
splits of 23.97, 47.59 and 1:11.47, took command turning for home and
got the interior mile in 1:35.72 while finishing in extra game fashion.
He paid $11.80, $7.80 and $4.60. With the Classic winner’s
share of $105,000, Lucky Primo boosted his career earnings to $437,616
from an overall mark of 16-6-3-3. He is owned by Litt’s brother Jason,
who also co-bred the gelding, and JBK Stable.
Got Even, ridden by Brice Blanc, held on gamely, outrunning John
Scott by three-quarters of a length. Off at 40-1, he paid $29.60 and
The favorite, who was ridden by Victor Espinoza, appeared to
have the front runners measured off the turn for home, but couldn’t
muster the necessary rally, finishing third, one length in front of top
3-year-old Rousing Sermon, who was ridden by Rafael Bejarano. John
Scott paid $3.60 to show.