Santa Anita, 6th Race - April 7, 2007
ARCADIA, Calif. -- Record magnate Jerry Moss has been responsible for some of the greatest music of the past 40 years, but the song he likes humming best, "My Old Kentucky Home," is older than all of us.
Two years ago, Moss, his wife, Ann, trainer John Shirreffs, and jockey Mike Smith combined to win the Kentucky Derby with Giacomo. On Saturday, they earned a return trip to Churchill Downs with Giacomo's half-brother Tiago, who rallied from ninth to first to capture the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby before a crowd estimated at 49,000.
As with Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby, Tiago ($60.60) was a longshot in this race. He was the second-longest price in the 10-horse field, owing to several factors. He had made just three starts, had never crossed the wire first - his win against maidens Jan. 21 was via disqualification - and most recently had finished seventh in the Robert Lewis Stakes here on March 3.
But Tiago benefitted from a hot pace that set up his late run, a Santa Anita Derby field that was not as deep as in years past, and a heady ride from Smith, who saved valuable ground on the final turn and into the stretch before tipping Tiago to the middle of the track for the final drive.
Tiago overhauled King of the Roxy just before the wire to win by a half-length. Sam P., sent off the 2-1 favorite, was another 2 3/4 lengths back in third, with Liquidity fourth. Bwana Bull was fifth and was followed, in order, by Medici Code, Court the King, Black Seventeen, Boutrous, and Level Red.
Tiago completed 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track in 1:49.51.
"This means a lot," Shirreffs said as he, customarily, stood outside the winner's circle while pictures were being taken. "Giacomo meant so much. To see his half-brother develop and win at a high level means so much to everyone at the barn.
"Giacomo was much more accomplished. This is a huge step, to win the Santa Anita Derby. I can't imagine the step he made. It was huge."
Sam P. and Black Seventeen sped into the first turn, with Liquidity right behind, and set fractions of 23.10 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.95 for a half-mile. As the field neared the far turn, Liquidity loomed up menacingly, and jockey Corey Nakatani took a confident peek behind him. But when Liquidity was asked to go, he could not shake free of Sam P., and then King of the Roxy sailed past both of them.
"I thought I was loaded for bear," Nakatani told trainer Doug O'Neill as they came through the tunnel after the race. "But he doesn't have a big turn of foot. He's kind of one-paced."
King of the Roxy led past the eighth pole in 1:36.02, but then Tiago ran him down.