`Rock' sizzles in Santa Anita

High Fly takes Fountain

Afleet Alex also cruises

March 06, 2005|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

ARCADIA, Calif. - Rock Hard Ten scored a resounding victory in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap yesterday before 35,484 patrons at Santa Anita Park. Last year's Preakness runner-up established himself as one of the top older horses in the country.

The Grade I Big 'Cap, one of the country's premier races, featured an old-fashioned East vs. West showdown. The East Coast invader, Saint Liam, finished sixth as the 5-2 favorite. Richard Mandella, the popular southern California trainer, stole the show by saddling Rock Hard Ten as well as runner-up Congrats.

Mandella considered sending Rock Hard Ten to the Middle East for the $6 million Dubai World Cup later this month. He had raced only nine times, and Mandella, who took over his training late last year, wasn't sure he knew the horse well enough.

"Maybe after today you can say he's an old professional," Mandella said.

Ridden by Gary Stevens, Rock Hard Ten raced in fifth until unleashing his wide charge around the far turn. He won by 1 3/4 lengths. His time for the 1 1/4 miles was 2 minutes, 1.20 seconds. He paid $9.60 to win.

Congrats, Borrego, Grand Reward, Lundy's Liability, Saint Liam, Imperialism, Californian, Island Fashion, Truly a Judge and Supah Blitz completed the order of finish.

Of the late-developing Rock Hard Ten. Stevens said: "The sky's the limit for him. You haven't seen the best of him yet."

The Bobby Frankel-trained Leroidesanimaux, a Brazilian-bred, scored a length victory in the $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap, a Grade I stakes on turf. Singletary, the Breeders' Cup Mile winner, finished seventh.

Ridden by Edgar Prado, High Standards captured the $100,000 Baldwin Stakes, scheduled for the turf but switched to the dirt.

Gulfstream Park: High Fly reaffirmed his place among Kentucky Derby contenders with a three-quarter length victory in the $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

The Grade II stakes for 3-year-olds featured 10 youngsters trying to emerge from the pack of Derby hopefuls. As the even-money favorite, High Fly won his first start since being transferred to trainer Nick Zito. Bandini finished second, B.B. Best third. High Fly paid $4.20 and completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1 minute, 49.70 seconds.

The undefeated Lost in the Fog dazzled again, winning the Grade II $150,000 Swale Stakes by 4 3/4 lengths and earning a chance to run his way into the Kentucky Derby.

A blazingly fast colt with a sprinter's pedigree, Lost in the Fog wasn't nominated for the Triple Crown. Greg Gilchrist, his trainer, said he would be now. Lost in the Fog paid $3 as the 1-2 favorite and zipped 1 minute, 22.21 seconds for the seven furlongs. Around the Cape and More Smoke, the 69-1 pacesetter, finished second and third, respectively.

The Maryland-bred Maddalena, the 3-5 favorite, lost for the first time after three overwhelming victories, fading to fifth in the $150,000 Forward Gal, a Grade II stakes of seven furlongs for 3-year-old fillies. Undefeated after three starts, Letgomyecho won by a half length in 1:23.24 and returned $11.40.

Eddington unleashed a powerful performance to win the Grade II $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap by 3 1/4 lengths. Jill Robin L won the $150,000 Bonnie Miss, a Grade II stakes of 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-old fillies.

Oaklawn Park: Afleet Alex launched his Kentucky Derby bid with a 2 3/4 -length victory in the $50,000 Mountain Valley Stakes in Hot Springs, Ark. His rousing performance at 1-5 odds equaled the stakes record of six furlongs in 1 minute, 9.52 seconds.

Turfway Park: Magna Graduate captured the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes in Florence, Ky. The Maryland-based Malibu Moonshine finished fourth.

Aqueduct: The Maryland-bred Aggadan lost a thrilling photo finish to Hydrogen, roused by an accidental slap in the face by a rival jockey's whip, in the $75,000 Stymie Handicap in New York.

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