ARCADIA, Calif. (April 2, 2016)—Just minutes before his stablemate Nyquist waltzed to victory in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, trainer Doug O’Neill’s Guns Loaded cruised to an impressive 1 ¼ length score under Rafael Bejarano in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Stakes at Santa Anita. Claimed five starts back for $32,000 on Dec. 6, Guns Loaded won for the fourth time off the claim and registered his third consecutive win.
“I knew that Mr. Sexy was the only speed in the race so I tried to make sure Guns Loaded broke well,” said Bejarano. “I put him in the right position right away and after that, I was done. I sat right off the speed and when I was ready, I let him go. It was easy for him.”
Owned by Westside Rentals.com, Neil Haymes, Leo Rodriguez and Steve Rothblum, Guns Loaded was the 8-5 favorite in a field of nine older horses and paid $5.40, $3.60 and $2.60.
“It was all Doug,” said part owner Mark Verge (Westside Rentals.com) in reference to his trainer, who was at Gulfstream to saddle Nyquist. “He’s the one who made the claim. We had the horse before and Doug called and said we’ve got to claim the horse back, but I can’t believe how well he’s done. It never works out that way.”
With the winner’s share of $60,000, Guns Loaded hiked his bankroll to $406,570. A 5-year-old Florida-bred gelding by D’wildcat, Guns Loaded registered his first graded stakes victory in the San Simeon. His overall record now stands at 26-8-3-4.
English-bred Cape Wolfe ran on well for the place, but never threatened the winner, finishing a half length in front of No Silent. Ridden by Flavien Prat, Cape Wolfe was off at 9-2 and paid $5.00 and $4.00.
Ridden by Gary Stevens, No Silent sat a close third throughout and paid $4.20 to show.
Fractions on the race were 21.70, 43.66 and 1:06.98.
First post time for a 10-race card on Sunday at Santa Anita is 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.
RAFAEL BEJARANO, GUNS LOADED, WINNER: “He ran good. I knew that Mr. Sexy was the only speed in the race so I just tried to make sure Guns Loaded broke well. I put him in the right position right away and after that I was done. I sat right off the speed and when I was ready, I let him go. It was easy for him.”
FLAVIEN PRAT, CAPE WOLFE, SECOND: “It was a good trip. The pace was pretty fast and I’m not sure he liked it but he ran pretty great. He tries hard.”
MARK VERGE, PART OWNER, GUNS LOADED, WINNER: “It was all Doug (O’Neill). He’s the one who made the claim (for $32,000 last Dec. 6). It was Doug and Steve Rothblum. We had the horse before and Doug called and said we’ve got to claim the horse back, but I don’t believe how well he’s done. It never works out that way.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Mark Verge (Westside Rentals) of Pacific Palisades; Neil Haymes of Alta Loma; and Leo Rodriguez of Menifee, CA.
Source: Santa Anita Park