With the $1.5 million XpressBet Breeders’ Cup
Sprint on Nov. 2 positioned as the ultimate objective, California-bred
Points Offthebench assured his connections he’ll be in the starting
lineup with a rousing half length victory Saturday in the Grade I,
$250,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship, covering six furlongs in 1:08
flat while providing trainer Tim Yakteen his first-ever Santa Anita
Grade I victory.
Photo: Benoit Photo
lone Cal-bred in a field of seven that included last year’s Breeders’
Cup Sprint champ and this year’s Santa Anita Derby winner, Points
Offthebench was well in-hand, six lengths off the lead in third position
leaving the three-eighths pole, reeled in pacesetting Distinctiv
Passion inside the furlong marker and held off the late charge of 7-5
favorite Goldencents and Rafael Bejarano at the wire.
"He’s very talented,” said Smith, who picked up his second graded
stakes win of the day and his fourth overall. “Maldonado (aboard
Distinctiv Passion) looked like he was getting away from us and I wanted
to try and time it with this horse because if you hit the front too
soon, he pulls up a little.
“He has some turn of foot, and I hit the front too soon, but he still
held on. He pulled up nice and happy, well within himself. He’s a very
Owned by Don Crevier and Charles Martin, Points Offthebench paid $11.20, $4.60 and $3.00.
With the winner’s share of $150,000, the son of Benchmark increased his
earnings to $514,940 and improved his career record to 8-6-1-1.
A winner of the Grade I Bing Crosby Stakes in his most recent start
July 28 on Del Mar’s Polytrack, Points Offthebench had three works at
Santa Anita coming into today.
“I would say, yeah, this is the biggest win of my career,” said
Yakteen, a former assistant to Bob Baffert and the late Charlie
Whittingham, who is married to HRTV stalwart Millie Ball. “This was a
tough, tough race. This is special.”
Trained by Doug O’Neill, Goldencents was second to Points Offthebench
in the Crosby and was then second in the seven furlong, Grade II Pat
O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 25.
“We were very pleased with what he did today,” said O’Neill assistant
Leandro Mora. “It looks like, according to our owners, that we aren’t
going to stay sprinting. We thought we could sprint but the talk is
that we are going to keep him at a mile…Even Rafael (Bejarano) said,
‘Please, let’s go longer.’ He’s got a great kick. The Breeders’ Cup
Mile (Nov. 2) is next, definitely.”
Goldencents, who took blinkers off today, was well back early and
closed with a rush, finishing 2 ½ lengths in front of Distinctive
Goldencents paid $3.20 and $2.40.
The longest shot in the field at 18-1, Distinctive Passion carved out
splits of 21.45, 43.69 and 55.80 and stayed well, finishing third, 4 ½
lengths clear of Gonna Fly Now. He paid $5.40 to show.
There is a Pick Six carryover into Sunday at Santa Anita of $156,250,
and it is expected the total Sunday pool could exceed $1 million.
The Pick Six will be comprised of races four through nine, with first post time at 1 p.m.