ARCADIA, Calif. -- In the case of Liberian Freighter on Saturday, good things came to those who waited, and waited, and waited some more.
Liberian Freighter delayed the start of the Grade 2, $150,000 Arcadia Stakes at Santa Anita, refusing to come to the gate for several minutes. But after finally making his way there, he loaded perfectly, leaped out of the gate, and led his six rivals on a merry chase, scoring a front-running victory in the one-mile grass race for older horses.
Liberian Freighter ($20.40), under jockey Martin Garcia, just did hold off a host of late-runners to prevail by a half-length. Blue Chagall, who had tracked him throughout, was second, with late-running Jeranimo a fast-finishing third. Caracortado, the 4-5 favorite, finished fifth, but was beaten just 1 1/2 lengths after being last, and trailing by eight lengths, midway through the race.
"The pace just killed him," said Joe Talamo, who rode Caracortado. "He flew the last quarter-mile."
Liberian Freighter set fractions of 23.50 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 47.41 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:10.69 for six furlongs before polishing off his final quarter-mile in less than 24 seconds to complete one mile on firm turf in 1:34.41.
The Arcadia was a nice consolation prize for Garcia, whose Santa Anita Derby mount, Jaycito, was scratched with a foot problem.
Liberian Freighter, 6, a California-bred gelding by Bertrando, has now won nine times in 26 starts. He was eighth of 10 in the Kilroe Mile in his last start. Neil Drysdale trains Liberian Freighter for a partnership that includes his wife, Shawn Dugan, as well as Chuck Winner and the estate of the late Ed Nahem, who bred the horse.
Drysdale said Liberian Freighter might be wheeled back in two weeks for the Grade 3, $100,000 Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park on April 24.