ARCADIA, CA – Slam Dunk Racing and Michael Nentwig’s El Tigre Terrible split foes in deep stretch and snuck through for the 23/1 upset in Sunday’s $100,000 Speakeasy Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
The Speakeasy is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with El Tigre Terrible receiving an automatic berth in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita Park this November.
Breaking a tad slowly from the far outside post 11 under Ruben Fuentes, El Tigre Terrible took back and saved ground while last early. Up front, Greg’s Diva dueled with Alfie Solomons and Biddy Duke through opening fractions :20.76 and :43.99.
Still last in the field of 10 as the tightly-knit group straightened for home, El Tigre Terrible found a seam along the inside and slipped past several foes. Bulletproof One came close to Greg’s Diva and seemed to have the lead, but in the final jumps, El Tigre Terrible slid between those two for the victory.
The Peter Miller trainee completed the 5-furlong sprint over the firm turf course in a final time of :55.78.
“I had never been on this horse, not even in the morning,” said Fuentes, who received the mount because regular rider Joe Talamo was in New York. “They were going so quick up front that he settled on his own. I saved ground at the rail and we had a dream trip. It opened up and he finished strong. I didn’t think we bothered the other horse.”
Bulletproof One’s rider Edwin Maldonado lodged a claim of foul against the winner, alleging interference in deep stretch, but the claim was not upheld and the Miller-trained filly finished second to give her trainer the exacta. Greg’s Diva, another filly, finished third ahead of the 5/2 favorite Ginobili, while Square Deal necked out Commander for fifth. Raging Whiskey, Absolute Weapon, Alfie Solomons, and Biddy Duke completed the order of finish.
Mr. Tip was a late scratch after he broke through the gate while the field was loading.
El Tigre Terrible’s win was his third in five starts, having broken his maiden while running for a $50,000 tag and then winning a starter allowance last out. The California-bred 2-year-old son of Smiling Tiger now carries a record of 5-3-0-1 with $118,300 earned.
“I felt like one of my horses was going to win,” Miller said. “Both of them ran super and we couldn’t be prouder of the horses. It was one of those last-minute entries. It was about 10:00 in the morning before entries closed and I called Nick (Cosato of Slam Dunk Racing) and said, ‘Hey, I think we should take a shot. If I owned the horse, I would do it.’ He said, ‘Go ahead,’ and lightning struck. Ruben is a great young rider and a great young kid. I’ve been riding him more, and with rides like this, we will be riding him even more.”
El Tigre Terrible returned $49.20 to win, $21.20 to place, and $12.20 to show. Bulletproof One brought back $7.60 to place and $5 to show, while Greg’s Diva paid $5.40 to show.