HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Total Bull overcame an awkward start and an unforeseen trip to capture his stakes debut in the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses on Thursday at Oaklawn Park.
Under jockey Calvin Borel, Total Bull ($4) held off the late run of Flying Private to win by a diminishing half-length in 1:44.00 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track. Cryptolight was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third.
Total Bull appeared to be the controlling speed in the six -horse field, and thus was sent off as the even-money favorite, despite making only his fifth start and first in a stakes race. But when the gates opened, he got away awkwardly, then was outsprinted to the early lead by Grand Sensation.
Grand Sensation led through fractions of 23.75 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 47.54 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:12.53 for six furlongs before Total Bull, who had been second, surged to the lead near the top of the stretch. But Flying Private, who had been sitting in a perfect stalking position behind the two leaders in third, swung out and was gradually getting to Total Bull in the final sixteenth of a mile.
But the wire came up fast enough for Total Bull so he could earn his third win in five starts. Total Bull, whom Bob Baffert trains for owners Hal and Patti Earnhardt, only began his career in November. All his previous races had been at Santa Anita, where he won twice - against maidens and a first-level allowance field - in four starts, all on a synthetic surface.