Although disappointment reigned 24 hours ago, jockey Mario Gutierrez returned from his third place finish in yesterday’s Preakness Stakes with previously unbeaten Nyquist to guide longshot Second Summer to a solid one length win in Santa Anita’s Grade II, $200,000 Californian Stakes. Trained by Peter Eurton, Second Summer dispatched heavily favored Lieutenant Colonel turning for home en route to a final clocking of 1:48.29 for a mile and one eighth.
A recent winner of two consecutive allowance races, Second Summer, who broke from post position two in a field of six 3-year-olds and up, sat a joint third into the Club House turn, hugged the rail around the far turn and angled just outside the favorite approaching the quarter pole as he marched to his first-ever stakes win in Santa Anita’s final major steppingstone to the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita going a mile and a quarter on June 25.
“Every single race he has improved a lot and he showed it today,” said Gutierrez. “Today, he had a good race, he pulled it through and was very game every time I asked him. I’m very happy with him.”
When asked about returning from the huge disappointment aboard Nyquist at Pimlico, Gutierrez responded, “That’s horse racing. After the race, everybody has their opinion on everything that happened. The horse came out of the race good and it looks like we’re going to run in the Belmont.”
Owned by Sharon Alesia, Ciaglia Racing, LLC, Marc Ferrell and Slam Dunk Racing, Second Summer was off at 9-1 and paid $20.80, $8.80 and $4.20. A 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding by 2009 Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird, Second Summer got his fourth win from 13 overall starts and with the winner’s share of $120,000, he increased his bankroll to $270,610.
"He has an affinity to quicken and his stamina is just amazing…When I saw him at the three eighths pole, he just looked like he was loaded. It looked like he was going to get boxed in for a second and when Mario made the move to go in-between the two of ‘em (Lieutenant Colonel and Point Piper)…that was just such a great, money move.
“I can’t say enough good things about this horse, he just keeps getting better…We’re so excited (about running in the Gold Cup on June 25). It could be a fun summer…I’ve never had a colt that was this good, going long on dirt. I didn’t realize that the Gold Cup was a Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ race.”
With Lieutenant Colonel tiring at the rail late, 2015 Gold Cup winner Hard Aces charged late to grab second by a half length. Ridden by Abel Lezcano and trained by John Sadler, Hard Aces was off at 5-1 and paid $5.40 and $2.60.
“He ran very well, no complaints at all,” said Larry Benavidez, assistant to Sadler. “The winner got a seamless trip. Right now, it’s on to the Gold Cup and we’ll be back to defend our title.”
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Lieutenant Colonel sped to the lead as expected, but was no match for the winner through the drive as he finished 2 ½ lengths clear of stablemate Point Piper. Off at 4-5, Lieutenant Colonel paid $2.60 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.09, 46.52, 1:10.59 and 1:35.59.
Retired trainer Mel Stute, who won his first-ever hundred grander 55 years ago with First Balcony in the 1961 Californian at Hollywood Park, was on-hand to present the trophy.
Source: Santa Anita Park