CITATION HANDICAP | PURSE: $250,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | Grade 2 | 1 1/16 MILES (TURF)
Favored Silentio battled between horses in the stretch and nosed out Summer Front to win the $250,000 Citation Handicap Nov. 29 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
A homebred for Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, 3-2 pick Silentio dueled between 2-1 shots Summer Front and Winning Prize, by Pure Prize , in the stretch. Winning Prize, a three-time Group 1 winner in Argentina, carried his lead past the furlong mark but grudgingly gave way. Silentio and Summer Front, by War Front, continued their battle to the wire with Silentio prevailing in a head bob.
A 4-year-old son of Silent Name trained by Gary Mandella, Silentio secured the second graded stakes win of his career after taking last year's Sir Beaufort Stakes on the Santa Anita Park turf. Silentio entered off a third-place finish at odds of 31-1 in the Breeders' Cup Mile Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
"When they hit the wire together, I thought we got beat. I walked down just dejected because if this horse gets beat an inch again after he got beat an inch [by Suggestive Boy] in the Kilroe Mile [March 2 at Santa Anita], it was going to be pretty tough to take," Mandella said. "When Summer Front came to him I thought he was going to go right by but when Silentio switched to his right lead he kind of found his rhythm again."
Silentio raced sixth while three wide in the backstretch. Winning Prize, who broke from the outside in the field of seven but secured the early lead and the inside position in the first turn, led through a half-mile in :46.74 and six furlongs in 1:10.22. In the far turn, jockey Rafael Bejarano angled Silentio to the rail to save some ground before moving to the two path outside of Winning Prize turning for home.
"It's hard to tell who won when they come down there like that. It was very, very close," Bejarano said of edging Summer Front and jockey Joe Bravo. "I always try to put my horse's head down right on the wire. He had a great trip, but I had to take a chance at the three-eighths coming between horses because he wasn't handling the course 100% and I didn't want to go around [Summer Front]."
That saved ground appeared valuable at the finish as Silentio just edged Waterford Stables' six-time stakes winner Summer Front, who was shipped from the East Coast by trainer Christophe Clement. Final time for the 1 1/16-mile test on good turf was 1:40.66.
"I'm really proud of him because he outran his odds in the Breeders' Cup Mile and proved everybody wrong and today he proved me wrong because I didn't think he could win on this soft turf course," Mandella said.
Favored Silentio returned $5 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.10 to show. Summer Front paid $3.40 and $2.40 while Winning Prize held third and returned $2.40.
Bred in Kentucky, Silentio is the first stakes winner for the A.P. Indy mare Listen A. P., who is a sister to stakes-placed Listen Indy. His record now stands at 4-1-4 from 10 starts, with earnings of $626,960.
Big Bane Theory finished fourth, followed by Bio Pro, My Best Brother, and Bright Thought.