ARCADIA, Calif. -- Running with screws and and an acrylic patch holding together a crack in his left rear hoof, Best Pal still outclassed the field in yesterday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap.
Best Pal, ridden by Kent Desmormeaux, overtook the front-runners in the final turn and pulled away down the stretch to become the richest horse currently running in North America.
A California-bred son of Habitony, Best Pal beat Twilight Agenda by 5 1/2 lengths, with Defensive Play another 2 1/4 lengths back in third.
Best Pal, a 4-year-old gelding, covered the 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 1 minute, 59 seconds, two-fifths of a second off the stakes record set by Affirmed in 1979.
Sent off at 9-5 by the Santa Anita crowd of 41,500, Best Pal returned $5.40, $3 and $2.60. Twilight Agenda, the co-high weight with Best Pal at 124 pounds, paid $3 and $2.80, and Defensive Play paid $6 to show.
Best Pal, runner-up to Strike The Gold in the Kentucky Derby last year, turned up with a quarter crack in his left rear hoof last Sunday.
The injury, a fairly common one among thoroughbreds, was closed with six screws and a patch. Best Pal did not seem affected by the crack during workouts -- and definitely didn't seem to be affected during the race itself.
NEW YORK -- Dixie Brass took the lead before entering the stretch and increased his advantage thereafter, carrying Art Madrid Jr. to a 3 1/4 -length victory at Aqueduct.
American Chance was second in the field of eight 3-year-olds, 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Golden Phase.
The Swift is traditionally considered the first of four New York stepping stones to the Triple Crown races. In recent years, however, few if any serious contenders for 3-year-old divisional honors have stamped themselves such in the 6-furlong event.
The victory was the fourth in five career starts for Dixie Brass, timed in 1:10 2/5 under 120 pounds on a muddy track. He earned $53,640 for Michael Watral.
The winner returned $7.40, $4.20 and $3.20. American Chance paid $7.60 and $6.00. Golden Phase returned $7.60 to show.
Gulfstream Park Handicap
HALLANDALE, Fla. -- Sea Cadet moved to the lead of the stretch and galloped to a seven-length victory.
Strike the Gold came from far back to finish second in the Grade I race but never threatened. Sunny Sunrise was third after setting the pace for more than a mile.
It was the 11th straight loss for Strike the Gold since his victory last May in the Kentucky Derby.
Ridden by Alexis Solis, Sea Cadet ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:01 3/5, and paid $4.40, $2.60 and $2.10.