Spirit of Makena keeps rolling with sharp Triple Bend victory

Spirit of Makena keeps rolling with sharp Triple Bend victory
Photo: Benoit Photo / Santa Anita

In a performance that validated the betting, trainer George Papaprodromou’s Spirit of Makena took charge turning for home and powered to an impressive 3 1/4 length win in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita.

The victory was the second stakes win in a row for the 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper and third overall dating back to a six furlong allowance score here on Feb. 11. Ridden for the third time in a row by veteran Joe Bravo, Spirit of Makena got seven furlongs in 1:23.07.

As expected, Forbidden Kingdom, ridden by Juan Hernandez, went to the lead and Spirit of Makena was an attentive second up the backside. With Forbidden Kingdom in front by two lengths at the three furlong pole, Spirit of Makena began to eat into that margin, got on terms a quarter mile out and took command turning for home in a huge effort.

“He’s a nice horse,” said Papaprodromou. “He won the last time doing the same thing… I’m grateful to train a horse like that I would like to thank the owners for giving me (this) horse. We are looking forward to a nice future with him. Hopefully the next stop will be the Bing Crosby (Grade 1, six furlongs on July 29 at Del Mar) and hopefully the Breeders’ Cup (Sprint, Nov. 4 at Santa Anita).”

Owned and bred in Kentucky by Bruce Chandler, Spirit of Makena, a winner of theSan Carlos Stakes (G3) going the same distance on March 11, was off as the 4-5 favorite in a field of seven older horses and paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.20.

Out of the Gilded Time mare Win for M’lou, Spirit of Makena is now a two-time graded stakes winner and is 5: 4-1-0. With the winner’s share of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $347,600.

Peter Miller’s venerable 9-year-old gelding C Z Rocket was just up for second by a nose over Desmond Doss and paid $4.00 and $3.20 while off at 5-1 with Ramon Vazquez.

Desmond Doss, one of two Cal-breds in the field and the longest shot in the field at 27-1, with Umberto Rispoli aboard paid $5.80 to show while finishing 1 1/4 lengths in front of Forbidden Kingdom who came up empty through the drive.

Fractions on the race were 22.86, 45.22 and 1:09.92.

Although he didn’t post a win in either the Daytona (G3) or the Triple Bend, Tiago Pereira was Saturday’s riding star, as he bagged four winners, giving him 13 overall at the current Hollywood Meet and putting him in a three-way tie for second, seven wins behind Juan Hernandez.

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