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Magic recaps Express Train catching heavy favorite Hot Rod Charlie late to win Sunday’s San Antonio Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park. Magic also discusses where the top finishers will run next and who he likes next time out at a price.
The press release, courtesy of Santa Anita:
Overlayed at 7-1 with Victor Espinoza up, C R K Stable’s Express Train took the length of the stretch but he finally overhauled heavily favored Hot Rod Charlie and Eight Rings to take Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita by a nose. Well beaten in the Pacific Classic two starts back and most recently third here in the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes Oct. 2, Express Train paid $16.40, $3.00 and $2.40 in one of six stakes on an 11-race Opening Day card.
Trained by John Shirreffs, Express Train, a winner of the Grade II San Diego Handicap three starts back on July 17, notched his third graded stakes win today and improved his overall mark to 15-5-4-3. With the winner’s share of $120,000, he now has earnings of $815,800.
A 4-year-old colt by Union Rags, Express Train is out of the Mineshaft mare I’m a Flake.
Hot Rod Charlie, who stalked Eight Rings throughout, got on terms at the top of the lane, but was unable to open up on his competition, enabling the winner to just prevail as her rallied on the far outside.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Hot Rod Charlie, who raced without blinkers today, finished a half length in front of Eight Rings. Off at 1-5, Hot Rod Charlie paid $2.10 and $2.10.
Off at 6-1 with John Velazquez, Eight Rings paid $2.60 to show while finishing 4 ½ lengths in front of longshot Go On.
Fractions on the race were 23.87, 47.37, 1:11.89 and 1:37.97.
$200,000, GRADE II, SAN ANTONIO QUOTES
VICTOR ESPINOZA, EXPRESS TRAIN, WINNER: “I didn’t want to force him too hard to go outside because I didn’t want him to lose his stride. The way he has been playing, I didn’t want to discourage him during the race. It was really tight and I think I got out just in time. I was able to follow and move with Hot Rod Charlie. This horse takes a little bit of time at the turn, so I had to start pedaling to start following the other horses. Turning for home and squeezing for the lead is when he really accelerated. At that point I knew my only shot was to calculate him to win right at the wire. Sometimes things go the way we calculate turning for home, and sometimes they don’t. Today it worked out and we got it right at the wire.”
FLAVIEN PRAT, HOT ROD CHARLIE, SECOND: “It was a good race. I had to keep him in the race because he wasn’t traveling super well. He wasn’t traveling the way he usually does. I was really pleased with my position, and he made a good move around the quarter pole, but he just couldn’t get there in the end.”
DOUG O’NEILL, HOT ROD CHARLIE, SECOND: “We got beat a bob. He ran great. He’s fine. We are very optimistic about the next year with him. I’m proud of him and the connections. He ran a great race.”
LEE AND SUSAN SEARING (C R K STABLES), EXPRESS TRAIN, WINNER: “I kind of thought that he won, but the big move was Victor did a great job of getting him out at exactly the right time. He was ready for Hot Rod Charlie to go a little quicker, but he got him out one second at the right time. The horse was going to finish in a great race, this was a great race.
“His last two races he did not break well, Victor did a great job because everyone wanted to get in there early and he was just down on the inside. It showed he could eat some dirt today. He’s a really good horse when he is a stalker and gets to the outside. Today finally he got it at the end there. This is a nice horse, a really nice horse.”
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