There were some relieved smiles in Santa Anita's winner's circle after favored Smiling Tiger overcame a bad stumble at the start to capture the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) by a desperate head in the rain Feb. 19.
Ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario, Smiling Tiger lurched at the break, hit the left side of the starting gate, and trailed the field.
Even though Smiling Tiger usually is placed on or near the lead, Rosario didn't panic, rallying the colt while four paths wide off the turn. In a determined effort, they managed to just get up over Captain Cherokee in the final couple of jumps. The time for the seven-furlong San Carlos was an excellent 1:20.30.
Trained by Jeff Bonde for Alan Klein and Philip Lebherz, Smiling Tiger snapped a three-race losing streak since his victory in Oak Tree's Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I) last November. He atoned for a disappointing third-place effort as the 2-5 choice in the Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 22 when he was unruly in the gate and gave way in the stretch.