SANTA ANITA HANDICAP | PURSE: $750,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 1 | 1 1/4-MILES
ARCADIA, Calif. -- Ron the Greek, taking advantage of a hot pace that sapped favored Ultimate Eagle, stormed down the center of the track and drew away for a 3 1/2-length victory in the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on Saturday.
Setsuko, second in the race last year, was second again, with Uh Oh Bango another half-length back in third.
Ron the Greek ($9.20), the third choice, covered 1 1/4 miles on the fast main track in 2:00.41. The win was the first in the race for both trainer Bill Mott and jockey Jose Lezcano.
Ron the Greek was second to Mucho Macho Man in the Sunshine Millions Classic in his last start. He has three wins and two seconds since Mott took over as his trainer.
Ultimate Eagle, the 2-1 favorite, was hounded by Gladding through insane fractions of 22.26 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 44.55 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:09.08 for six furlongs. He still led narrowly approaching the quarter pole, but was clearly exhausted, and wound up 10th in the field of 13.
Thirtyfirststreet tried to come inside the tiring Ultimate Eagle at the top of the stretch and bounced off the rail, but ended up finishing eighth, in front of Ultimate Eagle, so there was no inquiry.