Capital Plan, California Flag Score at SA

Four races after the venerable California Flag registered his seventh career stakes victory in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Handicap, another 5-1 shot, 4-year-old filly Capital Plan, gained her first stakes win in Santa Anita’s 64th running of the Grade II, $150,000 Santa Barbara Handicap.


Under a crafty ride by Brice Blanc, Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s Capital Plan got the jump on her opposition turning for home to prevail by 1 ½ lengths over Cambina in the mile-and-one-quarter turf competition for older fillies and mares. She was timed in 2:01.78.


Longshot Glowing Spirit set out to steal the Santa Barbara, and jockey Victor Espinoza seized the opportunity while taking the field of seven through dawdling fractions that included a half in 50.06 and six furlongs in 1:14.73.


Blanc, meanwhile, had the daughter of Rock Hard Ten placed closest to the outclassed leader. He sent Capital Plan calling for the lead on the far turn. In the sprint home, she had ample in reserve to outkick her pursuers.


Cambina, ridden Rafael Bejarano, closed from last for the place, a nose in front of Hard Seven and jockey Edwin Maldonado. Vamo a Galupiar, the 2-1 favorite, could make little impact when fading to sixth following a mild late rally. Camelia Rose, also 2-1, checked in fourth while no threat.


Owned by Hollendorfer in partnership with Mark DeDomenico, Capital Plan was making her 10th career start. Her only previous stakes try had resulted in a fifth place finish in Santa Anita’s Grade II La Canada Stakes on Jan. 22. She, however, had won an allowance event on grass in her only previous effort at 1 ¼ miles.


“She came home well,” Hollendorfer said following the Santa Barbara. “It was a perfect ride by Brice Blanc.”


“Jerry (Hollendorfer) told me to play it by ear,” said Blanc. “When everybody looked for cover on the front side, I kind of just let my filly lope along, and I got a beautiful spot. I felt the momentum from there, and I asked her to pick it up. She really responded and took off the last three-sixteenths.”


Capital Plan paid $13.20, $7.20 and $5.80. The prices on Cambina were $4.60 and $3.60. Hard Seven paid $4.80 to show. The victory, worth $90,000, increased the career earnings of Capital Plan to $215,800 from a 4-2-0 record in 10 races.


At the age of 8 and sidelined since a 12th place finish in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs, California Flag put on a dazzling display of dominance in the San Simeon at 6 ½ furlongs over Santa Anita’s unique hillside turf course.


Reunited with jockey Joe Talamo, who was aboard when the gray gelding captured the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint over Santa Anita’s downhill course, California Flag overtook Ain’t No Other right after the start.


Scurrying down the hillside with little urging, he soon opened up three lengths on his five pursuers, then four. He simply never surrendered a clear advantage before crossing the wire 2 ¼ lengths ahead of runner-up Sayif, a 26-1 shot.


“At the break, I just let him get out to the lead,” said Talamo, who had not ridden California Flag since October of 2010. “He relaxed fine and did what he is known for. It was almost like déjà vu.”


“He didn’t spurt away quite as far as I thought he would, but he just kept on going today,” said winning trainer Brian Koriner. “It was nice. Joe went ahead and let him show his class. He wasn’t exactly flying today, because he’s seen crazy fractions coming down the hill before.


“It was nice to see him back. I love the horse, and when I was being interviewed a couple of days ago, I predicted that he would win this race. I just thought the horse would win because he’s doing really good and is super sound. The horse just loves what he is doing.”


California Flag’s final time of 1:11.59 was the third fastest in stakes history and indicated the scope of the winner’s triumph after he cut out fractions of 21.89, 43.25 and 1:05.52. The times were just a tick off those he posted when taking the Breeders’ Cup event over the course as a 5-year-old. He matched Glick (2004) as the San Simeon’s oldest winner. The victory was his sixth in nine races over the layout.


Runner-up Sayif, who tracked California Flag for much of the journey under Jose Valdivia Jr., finished one-half length ahead of the 19-10 favorite, Compari, ridden by Rafael Bejarano.


California Flag, sent off as the fourth choice, paid $13.80, $7.80 and $4.40. Sayif returned $20.20 and $7 while Compari paid $2.80 to show. Owned by a partnership that includes breeder Barbara Card’s Hi Card Ranch, the California-bred son of Avenue of Flags boosted his career earnings to $1,288,825 with the winning purse of $60,000. He has won 11 of his 26 lifetime starts.


Trainer Vladimir Cerin completed a rare four-bagger when he saddled Father Pabst ($7.80) to win the 10th and final race following victories with Format V. ($28.20) in the first, Put It There ($5.60) in the fourth and Bet On Victor ($42.60) in the eighth. Cerin ran seven horses on the program.


Saturday’s Pick Six posed an elusive target for handicappers, but there was one perfect ticket, purchased at Pleasanton, Ca., and it paid $114,686. There were 49 tickets with five winners, each returning $1,003.00.


Santa Anita concludes its 75th winter/spring season on Sunday with a 10-race program featuring the historic Grade II San Juan Capistrano Handicap at 1 ¾ miles on turf with 6-5 morning line favorite Bourbon Bay aiming for his second victory in the marathon. First post is at 12:30 p.m.



comments powered by Disqus

Related Pages

Related Stories

Top Stories