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ARCADIA, CA – Although much the best, heavily-favored Big City Lights had to survive a lengthy steward’s inquiry in winning Sunday’s $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Futurity at Santa Anita.
Trained by Luis Mendez and ridden by Juan Hernandez, Big City Lights won gate to wire by 7 1/4 lengths while getting 5 furlongs in :58.20.
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As expected, Big City Lights was in front at once from his number 3 post position, but 7/2 second choice Street Art, who broke from the rail with Kent Desormeaux, was a close second, just to the winner’s inside, by about 3/4 of a length.
Heading to the 1/2-mile pole, Desormeaux took up sharply, losing all position as things got tight. With Big City Lights, a California-bred colt by Mr. Big, completely dominant on the front end, Street Art checked in fourth, beaten 15 1/4 lengths.
As soon as the field passed under the wire, the steward’s inquiry sign went up and Desormeaux was very animated in his telephone conversation with stewards Ron Church, Luis Jauregui, and Kim Sawyer.
After a thorough review, the stewards ruled that Street Art attempted to enter an opening without sufficient clearance and they let the original order of finish stand.
“I broke on top and (Street Art) didn’t break,” said Hernandez. “Before I came over, I checked and didn’t see anybody. It looked like he was trying to get in and there was room, but if you look at the replay, it looked like his horse got spooked and didn’t want to come through. When I asked (Big City Lights) at the 1/4 pole, he took off again. He’s a nice horse.”
A rousing 12 1/2-length first-out maiden winner versus statebreds going 4 1/2 furlongs on May 2, Big City Lights was off at 1/5 in a field of five juveniles and paid $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10.
Owned by William Peeples, Big City Lights, who is out of the Exchange Rate mare Champagne Exchange and sold for $22,000 at the Fasig-Tipton California Fall Yearling Sale, picked up $60,00 for the win, increasing his earnings to $96,600.
“It feels good,” said Mendez, whose horses finished 1-2-3. “I’ve never done that before and especially in a stake. I want to say thank you to the owner, Bill Peeples, and everyone on the team.”
Bochombo, a non-threatening second into and around the far turn, was off at 11/1 and paid $3.80 and $2.80. Ridden by Abel Cedillo, he finished second, 5 1/4 lengths in front of his stablemate Buehler’s Day Off.
Ridden by Edwin Maldonado, Buehler’s Day Off was off at 15/1 and paid $3.40 to show while finishing 2 3/4 lengths clear of Street Art. Heaven Shines completed the order of finish.
Fractions on the race were :21.96 and :45.74.
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