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ELMONT, NY – Noda Brothers’ Danny California struck the front end early and never relinquished control as he wired Friday’s $80,000 Miner’s Mark Stakes at Belmont Park.
Danny California was the 4/1 third choice as he broke from post 3 under Manny Franco, who hustled his steed to the lead heading into the clubhouse turn.
With You’re to Blame giving closest watch, Danny California posted leisurely fractions of :26.02, :52.40, 1:17.23, and 1:41.98 through the opening mile.
You’re to Blame made his move near the exit of the far turn as the two began distancing themselves from the rest of the field. They battled heads apart for much of the stretch, but Danny California began inching back forward near the 1/16 pole.
The Orlando Noda trainee crossed 1 3/4 lengths clear in a final time of 2:33.01 for the 1 1/2-mile fast dirt marathon.
“I wanted to warm up my horse real good because on paper, it didn’t look like there was much speed,” Franco said. “My plan was to make the lead and see what the horse could do. He enjoyed it. He was nice and comfortable, and he was there for me the whole way. When (You’re to Blame) got close to me, my horse responded and I knew it was going to be hard to get to me. My horse fought hard all the way to the line.”
You’re to Blame was 12 1/2 lengths ahead of the 6/5 favorite Rocketry, who headed Counter Offer for fourth.
Petit Fils was eased across the wire to complete the order of finish.
Danny California’s win came in his stakes debut and improved his overall record to 29-7-3-4 with $324,719 earned. Noda claimed the New York-bred 5-year-old Afleet Alex gelding for $20,000 out of a Belmont Park dirt mile victory last October; Franco just happened to be the jockey that day.
Danny California returned $10.20 to win, $4.10 to place, and $2.40 to show. You’re to Blame brought back $2.90 to place and $2.10 to show, while Rocketry paid $2.10 to show.
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