Santa Anita, 4th Race - Jan. 27, 2007
ARCADIA, Calif. -- Florida-bred sprinters are keeping owner Harry Aleo and trainer Greg Gilchrist at the top of horse racing.
Gilchrist trained the ill-fated Lost in the Fog, who won the 2005 Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding sprinter. Owned by Aleo, Lost in the Fog died of cancer last year.
On Saturday at Santa Anita, the Aleo-Gilchrist team pulled an upset in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint for California-breds and Florida-breds with the improving Smokey Stover.
Ridden by Aaron Gryder, Smokey Stover ($16) rallied from just off the pace to beat the California-bred Grade 1 winners Proud Tower Too and Bordonaro. Smokey Stover ran six furlongs in 1:08.03, winning by 3 1/4 lengths.
"Florida has been awful good to me," Gilchrist said. "Lost in the Fog would have been in this kind of race."
At the start, Proud Tower Too dominated the race. The winner of the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai last March, Proud Tower Too led by 2 1/2 lengths on the backstretch and set fractions of 21.47 and 44.02 seconds.
Bordonaro, the winner of the Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap here in October, got within a head of Proud Tower Too with a quarter-mile remaining, about the same time that Smokey Stover reached contention with a three-wide rally.
Smokey Stover took the lead with three-sixteenths of a mile remaining.
Smokey Stover, 4, has won 5 of 9 starts and $284,725. He won the minor Stinson Beach Stakes at Golden Gate Fields last year in his stakes debut.
"We were stepping up today," Gilchrist said in the winner's circle. "He had run some big races, but he was tested today against some good sprinters. This was the right time to try these horses. It was a test of class."
Santa Anita, 3rd Race - Jan. 27, 2007
Distaff: Joint Effort scores two-turn triumph
The Sunshine Millions program has become an integral part of Joint Effort's career.
Last year, Joint Effort won her first stakes in the $250,000 Oaks at Gulfstream Park. Saturday, she won her first stakes around two turns in the $500,000 Distaff at Santa Anita.
The five-length win so impressed trainer Dale Romans that he plans to keep her in routes this year. Last year, the Florida-bred filly ran primarily in races at a mile or less.
"This is a big one because it's her first win around two turns and it's against tested company," Romans said.
Joint Effort ($14.60) had an ideal trip under Eddie Castro, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.36. The fourth choice in the betting, Joint Effort chased a quick pace of 23.22 and 46.11 seconds set by 6-5 favorite Take D' Tour. Joint Effort moved closer to Take D' Tour with a rally along the rail on the second turn, took the lead in early stretch, and pulled away.
Take D' Tour, a Florida-bred seeking her third consecutive stakes win, held second, finishing 2 3/4 lengths in front of 18-1 Getback Time, who had the best finish for California-breds in the field of 12 fillies and mares.
Joint Effort has won 6 of 18 starts and $791,465 for owner-breeder Donald Dizney. The Sunshine Millions Distaff was Joint Effort's first start since a second in the Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs in November. Last spring, Joint Effort won the Grade 3 Dogwood Breeders' Cup Stakes and Grade 3 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs.
"This proves we can win some place other than Churchill Downs," Dizney said in the winner's circle. "We thought we could stretch her out."
Dizney and Romans said Joint Effort will be pointed for two-turn stakes at the Keeneland and Churchill Downs meetings in the spring.
Santa Anita, 2nd Race - Jan. 27, 2007
Oaks: Mistical Plan wins in last stride
Mistical Plan won the second restricted stakes of her career in the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks, but led only at the finish of the six-furlong race.
Ridden by David Flores, Mistical Plan ($6.20) was third with a sixteenth of a mile remaining and caught 10-1 Tiz Elemental in the final stride, winning by a nose in 1:10.50.
Double Major, who fought for the lead through a quick pace of 21.25 and 44.73 seconds, held third in the field of 12 3-year-old fillies.
Flores gave Mistical Plan an excellent ride. He kept her in mid-pack for the first three furlongs, found room on the rail entering the stretch, and quickly got a response in the final furlong. Mistical Plan trailed Tiz Elemental by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining.
"I was waiting and waiting and the rail opened for me," Flores said. "She relaxed and that was important."
The first three finishers are California-breds.
Mistical Plan ended a three-race losing streak in the Oaks. She won the Cover Gal Stakes for California-breds here in October. Owned by Paul Reddam and trained by Doug O'Neill, Mistical Plan has won 3 of 7 starts and $235,765.