ARCADIA, CA – Reddam Racing’s homebred B Squared had to summon every bit of courage to do so, but the Doug O’Neill trainee was able to dig deep and neck out victory over the heavily-favored Tough Sunday in Saturday’s $100,000 Thor’s Echo Handicap at Santa Anita.
Breaking from the outside under Mario Gutierrez in the five-horse field, B Squared prompted the pace initially before settling for a stalking position behind Tough Sunday through opening splits of :22.42 and :45.59. Collaring the leading in the far turn, B Squared hit the top of the stretch with a slim lead, but Tough Sunday fought back along the rail and refused to give in. The pair battled gamely to the wire, with B Squared the ultimate victor by a neck in a final time of 1:10.09 for the 6-furlong main track sprint.
“It was a five-horse field,” said Gutierrez. “My horse has a lot of speed, but I didn’t want to go head and head with anybody, but at the same time, I didn’t want to leave him too much to do at the end. I wanted to be within target distance for him as long as he was full of run. It just worked perfectly today.”
Make It a Triple was no match for the top pair but still took third over Smokey Image, with Grazen Sky completing the order of finish. Edwards Going Left and Image of Joplin were scratched.
B Squared’s triumph was his first since taking another California-bred stakes here last October. The 4-year-old son of Square Eddie now sports a record of 15-4-3-2 with career earnings of $347,128.
“The race set up perfect for us,” said O’Neill. “Mario rode his race and we were able to get up late. The Reddams are a big part of the Cal-bred program, and B Squared is a great fit. We always say, once you break your maiden, you’re paid for… It’s like having a free horse.”
B Squared returned $9.20 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.80 to show. Tough Sunday brought back $2.80 to place and $2.10 to show, while Make It a Triple paid $2.80 to show.