In his second graded-stakes assignment, trainer Bob Baffert’s Hopkins made it look easy Sunday at Santa Anita as he sat close to a fast pace and proved much the best in the Grade 3, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes, winning by 2 1/4 lengths under Juan Hernandez while getting six furlongs in 1:08.80.
In the other Grade 3 co-feature Sunday, Prince Abama won the San Marcos on the turf.
As expected, Straight No Chaser blasted off from his rail post and showed the way early under Edwin Maldonado, but Hopkins was in close attendance to his outside. Straightening for home, Hopkins got on terms and gained the advantage a furlong out in a dominant performance that gave meet leaders Baffert and Hernandez their ninth and 10th added-money victories respectively.
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“The race set up really good for us,” said Hernandez, who has been aboard for all seven of Hopkins career starts. “Straight No Chaser, he’s a really good horse. He’s really fast. ... I really like (Hopkins) a lot. ... He’s getting better.
“I just played the break, and I just watched the other horses. I saw (Straight No Chaser) broke really fast. He broke way better than me, and I broke better than the outside horses, so I just let him go and sat behind him and waited for the quarter pole to ask my horse to go. ... When I asked him, ... he picked it up really well, and he got the job done.”
Hopkins, winner of the Palos Verdes Stakes (GIII) @JJHernandezS19 pic.twitter.com/ookKF1wyTn— Santa Anita Park (@santaanitapark) February 6, 2023
Beaten by a head finishing second in a six-furlong allowance race at Santa Anita on Jan. 15, Hopkins was off at 2-1 in a field of six older horses and paid $6.20, $3.20 and $2.40.
A 5-year-old full horse by Quality Road out of the Salt Lake mare Hot Spell, Hopkins is owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Stables, Golconda Stable, Siena Farm and Robert Masterson. With the winner’s share of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $244,700 from an overall mark of 7: 3-3-0.
Idle since finishing second in an ungraded, seven-furlong stakes at Laurel Park, Radical Right, in steady training at San Luis Rey Downs for trainer Peter Miller, made his Southern California debut Sunday and was second best, finishing 1 1/2 lengths in front of Straight No Chaser. Ridden by Flavien Prat, Radical Right was off at 6-1 and paid $5.20 and $3.00.
The 2-1 favorite Straight No Chaser with Edwin Maldonado up paid $2.60 to show.
Fractions for the Palos Verdes were 21.80 and 44.10 and 56.40 seconds.
Prat wins on Prince Abama in San Marcos
Although his stablemate Masteroffoxhounds appeared to have the $200,000 San Marcos Stakes wrapped up, Ireland-bred Prince Abama burst on the scene in the shadow of the wire to prevail by a neck as Flavien Prat hoped to serve notice that his slump this winter at Santa Anita was turf history.
Trained by Phil D’Amato, Prince Abama, a 5-year-old gelding, got 1 1/4 miles on the turf in 2:01.42.
Prince Abama (IRE), winner of the San Marcos Stakes (GIII) pic.twitter.com/J1W5H3NaDO— Santa Anita Park (@santaanitapark) February 6, 2023
Mid-pack while under restraint and about three lengths behind pacesetter Evan Harlan three furlongs from home, Prince Abama rallied five deep through the lane and was up just in time. Prat notched his second added-money win and his eighth overall victory of the 18-day meet with his first stakes win coming in Saturday’s Thunder Road (G3) on Earls Rock.
“It is always great to get some winners,” Prat said. “I can’t thank Phil enough for his support. He has been a great supporter of mine, and I really appreciate it. I had a good trip. Turning for home I had all my chances. I thought Masteroffoxhounds was going to be opening up, and I was not going to be able to catch him, but my horse was really brave and laid it down and did the job.”
Most recently fourth in the opening-day San Gabriel (G2) at 1 1/18 miles on the turf Dec. 26, Prince Abama was off at 5-1 in a field of 10 older horses Sunday and paid $12.60, $6.00 and $4.20. Owned by Michael House, Prince Abama registered his second graded-stakes win and, with the winner’s share of $120,000, increased his earnings to $459,553 while improving his overall race record to 12: 4-4-1.
Masteroffoxhounds, who tracked the leader in second position to the quarter pole, took charge straightening for home, opened up a two length advantage with a sixteenth of a mile to run and just missed in a huge effort. Ridden by Umberto Rispoli, Masteroffoxhounds was the 3-1 favorite and returned $4.40 and $3.60 after finishing a half-length in front of Opry.
Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Opry was off at 12-1, paid $6.00 show and finished a neck better than D’Amato’s Say the Word.
D’Amato’s fourth runner, French-bred Equity, checked in last.
Fractions for the race were 23.62, 48.49, 1:14.00 and 1:37.61.
Rainbow 6 payout passes $4 million
With a carryover of $391,631 and a mandatory payout in play in Santa Anita’s 20-cent Rainbow Pick 6 jackpot, an avalanche of new money in the amount of $3,967,468 poured in by the fourth-race post time, creating a total Rainbow Six pool of $4,359,099.
There were 3,655 tickets with six winners apiece, each worth $935.70.
Sunday’s finale, a second-condition allowance contested at a flat mile on turf, was taken by trainer Peter Eurton’s Exaulted, who gave leading man Juan Hernandez his second win for the day and returned $5.20 to win as the 8-5 post time favorite.