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ARCADIA, CA – Sent off as the prohibitive 1/9 favorite, Galilean took the lead at the top of the stretch and completely cruised in middle gear, never asked for even his second-best effort en route to clinching Monday’s $200,000 California Cup Derby at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 4 under Flavien Prat, Galilean was content to sit third while riding in the three-path heading into the first turn. Fellow Jerry Hollendorfer trainee Loud Mouth set the initial pace, posting fractions of :23.95, :47.85, and 1:11.60. Prat remained chilly aboard Galilean as he inched forward to meet his pacesetting stablemate, then remained so as he made the turn for home still in riding in low gear. A few shakes of the rein was all that Galilean needed to take off, and in the blink of an eye, the race was over. Galilean crossed the finish line with an easy 4 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 1:43.43 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“He was traveling well the whole way,” Prat said. “It’s quite exciting because he’s done everything right so far. Like everyone else, though, he needs to improve, of course, but it’s exciting to win this time of year. He’s a good 3-year-old.”
After trailing the field by quite a bit in the early running, Feeling Strong was able to pick off each of the other runners in the stretch to take second by 10 lengths over a weakened Whooping Jay. Completing the order of finish came Irish Heatwave and Loud Mouth.
Galilean’s win was his second straight following a similarly-dominating score in the state-bred King Glorious Stakes at Los Alamitos on December 16. The 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo now carries a record of 4-3-1-0 with $261,000 earned for owners West Point Thoroughbreds, Denise Barker, and William Sandbrook.
“We pointed to this race after he ran so big winning the Los Al race,” said Jeff Lifson of West Point Thoroughbreds. “What was most important to me was that he had clean air in front of him and he wasn’t boxed in. That was my biggest fear. In a small field, everybody gets to ride our horse to some degree, and that’s always a worry. When he had a clean trip down the backstretch, I really was more relieved.”
The next step for the Cal-bred colt is up in the air, but his connections seem intent on trying him out-of-state for his next start. Three big names on the Triple Crown trail still loom large, including the Hollendorfer-trained Instagrand, so facing lesser competition elsewhere seems to make the most sense.
“You’re always a little anxious coming off a little bit of a layoff, but he did everything perfect,” Hollendorfer said. “There are a lot of races everywhere for him and we’re nominated everywhere, so we’ll try to make a good decision as to where to run next.”
Galilean returned $2.10 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Feeling Strong brought back $6.20 to place and $3.20 to show, while Whooping Jay paid $3.40 to show.
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