SAN MARCOS STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 1/4 MILES (TURF)
Hronis Racing LLC's Vagabond Shoes came flying late to capture his second U.S. win in Saturday's Grade 2, $201,500 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita. The John Sadler trainee was much the best as the 5-2 favorite and paid $7.40 for the score.
Vagabond Shoes settled near the back of the pack in the early going as Slim Shadey, the two-time defending champion, guided the field through fractions of :23 ⅗, :47 ⅖ and 1:11 ⅖. Slim Shadey continued to lead the field around the far turn, posting a mile in 1:35 ⅖ before starting to fade.
Vagabond Shoes just bided his time and slowly moved closer to the leaders as the race progressed. The seven-year-old gelding angled to the outside around the turn and came five wide into the stretch. He responded to jockey Victor Espinoza's urging and ran down the leaders in the final yards to prevail by 1 ¼ lengths, crossing the wire in 1:58 ⅘ for the 1 ¼-mile test over the firm turf.
Si Sage held on for second by a neck over third-place finisher Lucayan, who came all the way from last. Segway initially claimed fourth but was disqualified and placed last. That moved Dubai You X Y Z up to fourth and Jeranimo, 7-2 second choice, to fifth. Slim Shadey, Temeraine, Utopian, Power Foot and the demoted Segway rounded out the order of finish. Artic North, Mr. T Bird and Would You were scratched.
Vagabond Shoes began his career in Spain before traveling back and forth between that country and France during his two-, three- and four-year-old campaigns. Along the way, the son of Beat Hollow picked up a win and a placing in a pair of French Group 3 contests. In 2012, the chestnut's horizons were expanded to include Dubai, as he was shipped to Meydan for a trio of races, before traveling back to France for a score in the Prix du Chemin de Fer du Nord, the same race he ran second in during 2011.
Vagabond Shoes raced overseas just twice more, wrapping up his five-year-old season by filling out the third spot in the Oettingen-Rennen in Germany. Subsequently shipped stateside to Sadler's barn, the Irish-bred made his six-year-old bow at Santa Anita Park in the 2013 Arcadia. A well-beaten ninth on that occasion, he was unable to hit the board in his next two starts in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile and Mervyn LeRoy Handicap.
It wasn't until May that Vagabond Shoes began to turn things around when missing by just a nose to be second against optional claiming rivals at Hollywood Park. He was given a couple months off and returned a new horse to put in a nice rally for second in the July 20 Eddie Read.
Vagabond Shoes would capture his first U.S. win in his next start in the Del Mar Handicap on August 24, earning him an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf, and was a closing second in the John Henry Turf Championship the following month. The chestnut battled with the leader into the stretch in the Breeder's Cup Turf before fading to fifth. Making his first start of 2014, Vagabond Shoes won a fourth stakes victory in this spot and now has $665,449 in lifetime earnings from a 29-8-5-3 career line.
Bred in Ireland by Almagro de Actividades Comerciales S A, Vagabond Shoes was a $201,765 RNA at the Arqana Arc sale in 2011 before bringing $130,000 from his current connections at the same auction one year later.
Vagabond Shoes is out of the winning Singspiel mare Atiza and counts as his second dam the Star Appeal mare Isabena, who was honored as Spain's champion older mare in 1988. Two of Isabena's grandprogeny -- Casaca and Entre Copas -- were multiple champions in Spain during their careers, with the latter named that country's 2011 Horse of the Year. This female family has also produced Irish co-champion and Group 1 winner Flutter Away.