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ARCADIA, CA – C R K Stable’s Express Train rolled home strongly in the stretch to capture Saturday’s $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 4 under Juan Hernandez as the 5/2 second choice, Express Train settled off but within striking distance as the rail-breaking Tizamagician outkicked Zestful and King Guillermo for the lead.
With Zestful tugging hard against his jockey along the outside, Tizamagician posted opening fractions of :23.84, :48.74, and 1:13.70 down the backside and into the far turn.
Zestful ranged up to take a brief lead in the far turn, but Tizamagician battled back gamely inside and stole it back.
Neither had the kick necessary to hold off Express Train, however, whom Smith had tipped out to run three-wide at the top of the stretch and soon shot to the front.
Drawing off impressively in the stretch, the John Shirreffs trainee crossed 3 1/4 lengths clear, completing the 1 1/8-mile good dirt route in 1:52.13.
“There were three horses that tried to go to the lead and my horse relaxed pretty well behind them,” Hernandez said. “I was just waiting to (get into) the stretch to let him run, that’s what (he) did. Around the turn before the stretch, I checked, I went outside, and I was clear, and he started running again.”
Tizamagician kept trying once headed and narrowly withstood a late charge from the even-money favorite Idol.
Zestful weakened to fourth, 17 lengths ahead of King Guillermo, who jogged across the wire to complete the order of finish.
Express Train’s win came after running a fast-closing second in the local 7-furlong Malibu Stakes (G1) behind a horse who will likely be favored to win the $20 million Saudi Cup next month. The 4-year-old Union Rags colt, purchased for $500,000 as a yearling, improved his record to 8-3-3-0 with $293,300 earned.
“We knew there was plenty of speed in the race and it worked out fine,” Shirreffs said. “Juan fits this horse very well; show me a horse that he doesn’t fit. When you speak to him, he exudes confidence. He’s a rider.”
Express Train returned $7.20 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.20 to show. Tizamagician brought back $5 to place and $2.60 to show, while Idol paid $2.10 to show.
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