Quick Casablanca posts win


Chilean-bred Quick Casablanca landed his first North American win when he overcame a slow start to nip Fire With Fire and favored Rookie Sensation in the $100,000 Last Tycoon Stakes on the Santa Anita Park turf April 25.

The Last Tycoon, previously known as the Inglewood Stakes when contested at Hollywood Park, was the opening day feature of the first-ever Santa Anita spring meet.

A group I winner in Argentina and Chile who had been blanked in five prior United States tries, Quick Casablanca scored as the longest shot in the six-horse field at odds of 16-1. Previously based in New York with Christophe Clement, Quick Casablanca was making his initial start for Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally.

Quick Casablanca, who had not raced in more than five months, prevailed by a head over pacesetter Fire With Fire, with even-money pick Rookie Sensation a neck farther back in third. The final time for the nine-furlong distance was 1:48.62 over firm ground.

"He came up to the race very well," said Dan Landers, assistant to McAnally. "He's a big horse and we just started over with him after he got here. He had had time off and they sent him to us from Florida. I thought he'd run big but you never know. You have to see what you have first. I'm very happy."

Joe Talamo was aboard the 6-year-old son of Until Sundown for Chilean owner Pablo Gomez. The bay horse was bred by Haras Matancilla out of the Cipayo mare Quick.

Quick Casablanca and Rookie Sensation raced at the rear of the compact field as Fire With Fire served up a mediocre pace, leading Joelito and Spring Up through quarter mile fractions of :25.34 seconds, :49.75 seconds, and 1:13.58.

Shaking off a bid from Joelito on the backstretch, Fire With Fire took command on the far turn and opened a two-length advantage midstretch as Quick Casablanca and Rookie Sensation still trailed. Quick Casablanca, four wide entering the home stretch, responded to Talamo's urging, however, and got up from between Fire With Fire and Rookie Sensation at the wire.

"He looked unbelievable today," Talamo said. "I was able to work him the other day [seven furlongs in 1:26 ⅘ April 19] and he showed me that turn of foot in the morning too, just exploded.

"I'm always optimistic, no matter what, but he definitely showed me that turn of foot the other morning. I wasn't real happy with the pace, they were moving a little slow on the front end, so I had to move sooner than I wanted. He handled it great though. When I showed him daylight he gave me an explosive kick."

Fire With Fire and Rookie Sensation, who won the Twilight Derby last November at Santa Anita, also finished willingly while narrowly defeated. Lakerville took fourth, followed by Spring Up and Joelito.

Quick Casablanca was fifth in his most recent start, the Slew o' Gold Stakes on the main track at Aqueduct Racetrack Nov. 17. His major wins in South America came more than two years ago. He has compiled a career mark of 4-6-4 in 17 races with earnings of $548,580.

Quick Casablanca paid $34.60, $18, and $6.80, teaming with Fire With Fire ($6.20, $2.20) for a $335.20 exacta. Rookie Sensation returned $2.10.