ARCADIA, CA – R3 Racing and Calara Farms’ Blitzkrieg used an easy early lead to his advantage, taking the field gate to wire in Sunday’s $100,000 American Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.

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Breaking from post 4 under Victor Espinoza at 7/1 odds, Blitzkrieg outlegged Bolo for the lead heading into the clubhouse turn, then strolled unpressured through fractions of :23.02, :46.42, and 1:10.03.

Still running solo at the top of the stretch, Blitzkrieg had more than enough left to hold off a late advance from Bowies Hero to win by a length. The Doug O’Neill trainee completed the mile-long firm turf event in a final time of 1:33.46.

Credit: Benoit Photo

“It was not an easy race, it was a tough race,” Espinoza said. ” I said, ‘Okay, well Bolo is way out and I’m a little bit closer to the rail, so I think I have a better chance to get the lead easier than him.’ It worked out well today. The pace was pretty quick, but he was doing it so easy. For me, every time I ride a horse like him with speed, I like to just sit up there and have fun.”

Sharp Samurai, the 5/2 favorite making his first start since last August, was a dead-heat third alongside Souter, with the pair finishing a neck ahead of True Valour in fifth. Border TownCleopatra’s StrikeKing of Speed, and an empty Bolo completed the order of finish.

Blitzkrieg’s win was his first since winning last year’s San Francisco Mile Stakes (G3) at Golden Gate Fields. The 5-year-old War Front gelding improved his record to 21-6-1-1 with $388,097 earned.

O’Neill claimed him for $25,000 on January 19, 2019, and saddled him to three consecutive victories that culminated in the San Francisco Mile. After wintering in Dubai with a string under O’Neill assistant Leandro Mora, this was his second start back following a disappointing eighth in the local Shoemaker Mile Stakes (G1).

“His last work was phenomenal,” Mora said. “He went 6 furlongs on his own in :58.40 and galloped out in 1:12. He worked so good, we were tempted to put him back on the dirt, but we stuck to the plan and I’m glad we did. I told Victor that with Bolo drawn way outside, let’s go, and I think maybe we can steal it. He’s back, no question. This is the horse we thought we had all along.”

Blitzkrieg returned $16.80 to win, $7.80 to place, and $4.60 to show. Bowies Hero brought back $6.40 to place and $3.80 to show, Sharp Samurai paid $2.40 to show, and Souter paid $8 to show.