ARCADIA, Calif. -- A year ago, Fluke lost the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile by a nose, a result that foreshadowed a frustrating year for his trainer, Humberto Ascanio, who had taken over as Fluke's trainer after the passing in November 2009 of his mentor, Bobby Frankel.
If the Kilroe Mile tips off what kind of year Ascanio is going to have, 2011 promises to be far better. On Saturday at Santa Anita, Fluke was on the right side of a photo finish, holding off Caracortado in a thrilling edition of the $300,000 turf race for older horses.
Fluke ($7.40) never left the rail the entire journey under Rafael Bejarano, who was riding the horse for the first time. He came through a narrow opening on the rail in the stretch, and that made the difference. Caracortado, the 6-5 favorite, also had saved ground much of the way, but with no room inside at the quarter pole, he had to tip out under jockey Joe Talamo, then surge between horses. But Fluke, the horse Talamo gave up to stick with Caracortado, held him off to win by a head.
Jeranimo was another a half-length farther back in third, with Times Gone By fourth. Lieve fractured a hind leg turning into the backstretch and subsequently was euthanized.
Fluke was timed in 1:33.50 for one mile on firm turf. The win was his seventh in 16 lifetime starts.
"I was afraid it was going to be the same as last year. I thought it was going to happen again in the last jump," Ascanio said. "He only had two works in a month. I was worried, but I wanted him fresh. This horse is Bobby. He made him."
Fluke, bred in Brazil, is owned by Patricia Bozano. She is among the owners who remained with Ascanio after Frankel's passing. Ascanio currently has 15 horses.
"They said they would stay with me if I trained. I told them I was going to try," Ascanio said of Bozano and her husband, Alfredo. "They're really nice people."
Ascanio said Fluke likely would not race again until the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park.