Thursday, June 20, 2024

Mr Fisk wins Hollywood Gold Cup before ‘minor’ injury

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ARCADIA – Bob Baffert’s 10th victory in the Hollywood Gold Cup produced perhaps the Hall of Fame trainer’s most muted celebration ever Monday at Santa Anita.

Mr Fisk and jockey Kazushi Kimura defeated Reincarnate and Juan Hernandez by 2 1/4 lengths to make it an all-Baffert exacta in the $200,000, Grade II race for some of the best horses in the California handicap division.

But Mr Fisk didn’t make it back for the winner’s-circle photo. Kimura pulled up Mr Fisk as they galloped out on the clubhouse turn, and dismounted. The 4-year-old colt was vanned back to Baffert’s barn for examination.

Baffert said the injury “sounds minor,” and the vanning-off was about “being cautious.”

“(Kimura) said it’s nothing major, but he (the horse) was a little bit (off). Hopefully it’s a foot or something like that,” Baffert said in the minutes after the race, one of Southern California’s historic thoroughbred events.

“It’s too bad. We’re all excited watching him win. My horses ran great, 1-2 like that. I’m proud of them both. It’s too bad we can’t celebrate in the winner’s circle, but the horse looks like he is going to be fine. That’s the good news.”

The Gold Cup, run for the 86th time and the 11th at Santa Anita following the closure of Hollywood Park, is the third major race that Baffert has won 10 or more times, joining the Los Alamitos (formerly Hollywood) Futurity (11 times) and the Del Mar Futurity (10).

Mr Fisk, trying 1 1/4 miles for the first time after winning the 1 1/8-mile Californian in April, paid $7 as a slight favorite over Judge Miller, who finished third ahead of Subsanador, Mixto, Arrowthegreat and Oviatt Class.

The time, 2:03.01, was the slowest for a Gold Cup held at Santa Anita.

Reincarnate took the early lead from Subsanador, the Argentine-bred who lost a photo to Baffert-trained Newgate in the Santa Anita Handicap in March. Judge Miller, a front-running runnerup in the Californian, was third on the backstretch this time. Mr Fisk was fourth along the rail, waiting for room behind his stablemate.

Kimura tipped Mr Fisk outside of Reincarnate in the stretch, pulled even with a furlong to go and looked inevitable from there.

“I knew they weren’t going very fast, and he (Mr Fisk) was in a good spot. Reincarnate, when he gets a lead, he’s tough,” Baffert said of the 4-year-old whose last win came wire-to-wire in 2023 Los Alamitos Derby. “He (Reincarnate) showed up.”

Mr Fisk’s fifth victory in 11 starts lifted his career earnings to $369,700 for for Sunny Brook Stables, which bred and owns the son of Arrogate.

In other Memorial Day races at Santa Anita:

• Anisette made her 4-year-old debut and scored her third Grade I victory under Umberto Rispoli, reeling in lone frontrunner Ruby Nell and outclassing Olivia Maralda by one-half length in the $300,000 Gamely Stakes on turf.

The Great Britain-bred hadn’t started since winning the Grade I American Oaks at Santa Anita in December.

“I could see that Umberto was biding his time and had a lot of confidence in her, ” trainer Leonard Powell said. “At the quarter pole, I said, ‘Wow, she’s the champion.’”

• Rispoli completed the first Grade I double of his career by riding Johannes to a one-half-length victory over frontrunner Funtastic Again in the $300,000 Shoemaker Mile on grass.

Johannes was 0 for 3 on dirt when trainer Tim Yakteen switched the 4-year-old son of Nyquist to turf, and he’s five for six since. This was his first try at the Grade I level.

“I didn’t expect something like this,” Yakteen said.

• The holiday crowd of 13,122 saw a potential star unveiled when Eagles Flight, a 3-year-old half-brother to the great Flightline, won at 6-5 odds against a solid field of maidens.

With Antonio Fresu riding, the son of Curlin and Feathered was running seventh along the rail early in the 6-furlong sprint before rallying on the outside, splitting opponents turning into the stretch and pulling away to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Santarena.

“Really happy,” said trainer John Sadler, who also had Flightline, the 2022 North American Horse of the Year. “You know, he got about four races of experience in one race. Considering he had to come up the inside, (and) eat a lot of dirt, he handled his lessons really well.”

Sadler said he doesn’t have a next race picked out but thinks Eagles Flight will be “really good for a mile.”

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