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Unbridled's Note by a Whisker in Hernandez

Unbridled’s Note returned to Santa Anita’s downhill turf course and was a game winner of Saturday’s $75,000 Joe Hernandez Handicap for older horses under Corey Nakatani, prevailing by a nose over comebacking Chips All In and Tyler Baze while negotiating 6 ½ furlongs in 1:11.17—just seven one hundredths of a second off the course record.

“I felt I had the race,” said Nakatani. “My horse, he’s such a real nice horse, a real game horse. I want to thank Mr. McCarty (owner) for letting me have this opportunity with him…You know, it’s been a tough meet for us but they are very good horses…The turf was a little soft, had a lot of cut to it and he kept switching leads on it.

“He’s better with a little bit of a target but the pace scenario just didn’t pan out like I thought it would. He ran a tremendous race either way.”

After running a brilliant second down the hill in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 3, Unbridled’s Note, trained by Steve Asmussen, was third, beaten three lengths in the opening day Grade I Malibu at seven furlongs on dirt.

“He’s a pretty versatile race horse,” said Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi. “It looks like his numbers are comparable on both dirt and turf. We’ll just see how he comes out of it, and and I’m just glad to win a race, honestly. It feels good to win a race.”

The Asmussen Stable, America’s leader by races-won in five different years, and the winner of consecutive Eclipse Awards in 2008 and ‘09, had two wins from 23 starts coming into Saturday.

Off as the 4-5 favorite, Unbridled’s Note, who broke from post position three in a seven-horse field, was gunned by Nakatani to the lead and quickly established a one length lead over the runnerup, who pressed Nakatani through splits of 21.44, 44.05 and 1:05.41.

Unbridled’s Note, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Unbridled’s Song, paid $3.60, $2.40 and $2.20. With the winner’s share of $45,840, he increased his earnings to $457,581. His record now stands at 10-4-1-3.

Runner-up Chips All In, idle since running third in the Grade II La Jolla Handicap on Aug. 11, he finished 3 ¾ lengths in front of third-place finisher Tale of a Champion and Joe Talamo.

“This horse ran his heart out,” said Baze. “He gave me everything he had. If he would have had a (recent) race under his belt, he would have won easy. He just is a really hard-trying horse, just a pleasure to ride.”

The third choice in the betting at 6-1, Chips All In paid $4.20 and $3.20.

Tale of a Champion, the longest shot in the field at 25-1, finished a half length in front of 3-1 second choice Irish Art and paid $6.40 to show.



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