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Longshot Si Sage Goes Gate to Wire to Win G2 Charles Whittingham Stakes

ARCADIA, Calif. (May 29, 2016)—With Mike Smith at the controls, veteran Si Sage finally got a firm turf to run on and the 6-year-old French-bred did just that, as he seemingly relished a front-running trip en route to an authoritative 2 ½ length win in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita.  Trained by Jim Cassidy and owned by Jed Cohen’s Red Baron’s Barn, LLC, Rancho Temescal and Vayaconsuerte, Si Sage, who was off at 11-1 in a field of 10 three year olds and up, got a mile and a quarter on turf in 1:59.48.

“I thought it was a pretty fast dog (with regard to him telling Smith to ‘walk the dog’ during pre-race instructions) as I watched,” quipped Cassidy.  “In between being on the outside and going down the hill (immediately after the start), that 47 half made me think we might be in trouble.

“If he didn’t impress anybody today, shame on them.  He certainly impressed me.  I don’t think there’s any problem with him, no matter the distance.  He’s just a very honest horse.  (Former trainer) Darrell Vienna told me when he retired that this is a very nice horse and he couldn’t have been more right…It brings tears to your eyes to win a race named after such a great man, Charlie Whittingham.  It brought a tear to my eye.”

In his third start off a roughly one year layoff, Si Sage paid $25.00, $11.80 and $9.40.  In winning the Whittingham, he improved his overall mark to 26-5-6-2 and with the winner’s share of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $381,795.

“Jim told me he was going to run a big race today,” said Smith.  “He got carried out a little bit when we were crossing the dirt (shortly after the start) and we went a bit quicker than I wanted to go, but in doing so he was well within himself, was comfortable, very relaxed and sometimes you’ve just got to let a fast horse be fast.”

Although Si Sage carved out what appeared to be a legitimate fractions of 23.15, 47.02, 1:11.23 and 1:35.36, no one made a serious move from behind, including 7-5 favorite Bal a Bali, who appeared to be perfectly positioned while second turning for home, but flattened out through the drive and could only manage a fourth place finish.

Completing the Whittingham exacta was another French-bred, Patentar, who swung three-wide turning for home, overtook the favorite inside the sixteenth pole and outran Montego Bay for the place.  Ridden by Alonso Quinonez, Patentar was off at 32-1 and paid $25.40 and $11.80.

“I saved all the ground (early) and I decided ‘If I’m gonna win it, I’ve got to swing out and take a shot,’” said Quinonez.  “I really happy with the way he ran.”

Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Montego Bay finished third, 1 ¼ lengths in front of Bal a Bali.  Off at 20-1, he paid $10.60 to show.

There is a two-day Pick Six carryover into Memorial Day, Monday at Santa Anita of $437,763.  The total Pick Six pool on Monday is expected to approach the $2 million mark.

First post time for a 10-race card on Monday is at 2 p.m.  The Pick Six will begin with the fifth race and approximate post time for race five is at 4 p.m. PDT.  Admission gates open at 11:30 a.m.

JOCKEY QUOTES

MIKE SMITH, SI SAGE, WINNER: “Well Jim told me he was going to run a big race today. ‘He hasn’t had a big effort in a while but he’s going to give you one today.’

“He got carried out a little bit when we were crossing the dirt and we went a bit quicker than I wanted to go but in doing so he was well within himself, was comfortable, very relaxed and sometimes you’ve just got to let a fast horse be fast.”

ALONSO QUINONEZ, PATENTAR, SECOND:  “I saved all the ground and I decided ‘If I’m gonna win it, I’ve got to swing out and take a shot.’  I’m real happy with the way he ran.”

TRAINER QUOTES

JIM CASSIDY, SI SAGE, WINNER: “I thought it was a pretty fast dog (with regard to him telling Mike to ‘walk the dog’ on the front end before the race) as I watched. In between being on the outside and going down the hill, that forty-seven half made me think we might be in trouble.

“If he didn’t impress anybody today, shame on them. He certainly impressed me.

“I don’t think there’s any problem with him, no matter the distance. He’s just a very honest horse. Darrell (Vienna, former trainer of Si Sage) told me when he retired that this is a very nice horse and he couldn’t have been more right.

“Without being a jerk, it brings tears to your eyes to win a race named after such a great man, Charlie Whittingham. It brought a tear to my eye.”

JED COHEN (RED BARON’S BARN), OWNER OF SI SAGE, WINNER:  “I couldn’t believe the morning line today (15-1).  He won a race here last year at the same distance (three starts back, The Last Tycoon, on April 25, 2015) and I thought he beat a better group of horses than he was facing today…It’s nice to have a nice horse and for him to be able to show it.”

Santa Anita Park

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