With an enviable burst off the turn for home, favored Itsinthepost took Grade 2, $200,000 San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita by three quarters of a length under Tyler Baze while bagging his third consecutive graded event of the Winter/Spring Meeting and notching his second consecutive win in one of Santa Anita’s most important turf stakes. Trained by Jeff Mullins, the 6-year-old French-bred gelding got a mile and one half in 2:27.73.
Due to recent rain, the San Luis Rey did not initiate on the downhill turf course, but began with a backstretch start. With Play Hard to Get, Saltini and Aquaphobia vying for early supremacy, Baze was pocketed while full of run at the rail in fourth position heading into the Club House turn. In what turned out to be a fortuitous move, Baze was able to get an outside position as the field turned down the backstretch and from there, it was just a matter when he’d be asked for his best as Itsinthepost repelled a solid stretch rally from runner-up Hayabusa One.
“The only instructions Jeff gave me today were to try and see if we could stalk (the pace) on the outside and it worked out great,” said Baze. “When Nakatani (Corey, aboard Aquaphobia) kind of went on with it, I was able to slide right out turning down the backside and it worked out great…I think he’s my all-time best horse now for money-won…He has the will to win.”
A winner of a pair of Grade 2 stakes earlier at the meet, the 1 1/8 miles turf San Gabriel and the 1 ¼ miles turf San Marcos, Itsinthepost was off as even money favorite in a field of nine older horses and paid $4.20, $2.80 and $2.40.
Owned by Jed Cohen’s Red Baron’s Barn, Itsinthepost also became Thoroughbred racing’s newest millionaire, as the winner’s share of $120,000 increased his earnings to $1,095,712. In winning his sixth graded stakes, Itsinthepost improved his overall mark to 33-9-7-5.
“I’ve had some good turf horses, but some of them, they’ll kinda tail off at some point,” said Mullins. “Not this horse, he’s just solid every time. With this horse, the further, the better.”
Like the winner, a French-bred, Hayabusa One, with Victor Espinoza up, loomed menacingly the length of the stretch, but Itsinthepost simply wouldn’t relent and Hayabusa One had to settle for second money, some 5 ¼ lengths in front of the lone mare in the field, Responsibleforlove.
The second choice in the wagering at 2-1, Hayabusa One paid $3.40 and $3.00.
Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Responsibleforlove rallied from far back to nail Colonist by a neck for third. Off at 17-1, Responsibleforlove paid $5.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 24.32, 49.35, 1:14.40, 1:39.04 and 2:03.71.