In his first mount since it was announced this past Monday that he was headed to racing’s Hall of Fame in August, Victor Espinoza applied a deft touch in guiding favored Liam the Charmer to a head victory in Friday’s $58,000 Santa Anita allowance feature.Trained by Michael McCarthy, the 4-year-old colt by Smart Strike got a mile and a quarter on turf in 2:01.20.
“Every win is special, that’s why I’m here,” said Espinoza of his only mount on the Friday card.“I knew they were going to be going slow up front, so I thought I’d be pretty close early and I was.He’s got a nice, long stride and he didn’t have to run very hard today.”
Off at even money in a field of five older horses, Liam the Charmer, who moved into a three-way tussle for the lead around the far turn, took command turning for home and won in better than looked fashion while holding off longshot Vigilante to return $4.20, $2.80 and $2.10.
Bred in Kentucky by Hall of Fame conditioner Ron McAnally and his wife, Debbie, Liam the Charmer, who is owned by Mr. and Mrs. W.K. Warren, Jr., picked up 34,800 for the win, boosting his earnings to $141,026.A close fourth in the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes on March 25, Liam the Charmer got his third win from nine career starts.
Taken in-hand by Rafael Bejarano out of the gate, Vigilante saved ground at the rail while last going into the far turn, quickened a furlong out while in the middle of the course and proved second best.Off at 7-1, he paid $5.60 and $4.00.
The longest shot in the field under Tiago Pereira, Brazilian-bred Editore rallied well from next to last, but was third best and paid $5.40 to show.
Fractions on the race were 24.32, 50.09, 1:14.91 and 1:38.27.
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 1 p.m.Admission gates open at 11 a.m.For scratches, changes and complete morning line information, please visit santaanita.com.
Source: Santa Anita Park