ARCADIA, CA – Trainer John Sadler’s Galilean surged late to nail Ultimate Bango on the wire and win Sunday’s $100,000 California Flag Handicap at Santa Anita Park.
Mikes Tiznow burst to the lead from the gate and set the opening tempo, posting fractions of :22.71 and :45.09 while Galilean (wearing blinkers for the first time in 19 months) and Ultimate Bango gave closest watch.
Mikes Tiznow drifted out wide at the top of the stretch, forcing an improving Galilean to run even wider while gifting Ultimate Bango multiple lanes along the rail.
Galilean drifted in near the 1/16 pole but still fought hard to take the lead late, nipping Ultimate Bango by a head at the wire.
The 3/2 favorite under Umberto Rispoli as he broke from post 6, Galilean completed the 5 1/2-furlong firm turf sprint in 1:02.13.
“I was a little bit in trouble at the top of the stretch when Baja Sur came out but then opened the gap on the inside,” Rispoli said. “Unfortunately, my horse didn’t want to switch leads and he was hanging in all the way. I was obligated to just ride it with him and to try to make him as straight as I can, but he’s a huge horse. I got it because he was the better horse in the race.”
Rookie Mistake finished well late to take third, 1 1/4 lengths behind the top pair. Baja Sur blew the start and trailed throughout before passing a tired Mikes Tiznow in the stretch; they completed the order of finish.
The stewards conducted an inquiry into Galilean’s drifting actions before allowing the results to officially stand without change.
Grinning Tiger was scratched from the field restricted to California-breds.
Galilean’s win came in his turf sprinting debut and was the second from his past 3 starts (all on grass), with the aforementioned victory coming in the California Dreamin Stakes. Most recently fifth in the Del Mar Mile Handicap (G2) against open company, the 4-year-old Uncle Mo colt improved his record to 12-6-1-3 with $577,098 earned for co-owners West Point Thoroughbreds, Denise Barker, William Sandbrook, and the Coolmore triumvirate of John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.
Galilean returned $5 to win, $3 to place, and $2.20 to show. Ultimate Bango brought back $5 to place and $3.20 to show, while Rookie Mistake paid $4.60 to show.