ARCADIA, CA – With jockey Tyler Baze applying pressure early and often, Ashleyluvssugar was never allowed to get into his front-running comfort zone, resulting in a one-length win for Baze and the French-bred Itsinthepost in Saturday’s marathon Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Jeff Mullins, Itsinthepost covered 1 1/2 miles on turf in 2:25.43 in his first stakes victory.
With Gary Stevens aboard, the heavily favored Ashleyluvssugar went right to the front as the field began their journey halfway down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, carving out a leisurely opening quarter mile in 25.34, but Baze was quick to engage the favorite as they headed into the Clubhouse turn.
“I had four different people tell me this horse couldn’t go a mile and a half,” said Baze, who had ridden the 5-year-old gelding in his last eight starts. “I’ve seen that horse (Ashleyluvssugar) run so many times, and I know he gets a big heart when he’s able to open up two or three (lengths) early, so I wanted to be sure he knew I was there all the way around there.”
Second in his last two starts, both of which were graded stakes, Itsinthepost was off at 6-1 in a field of 12 older horses. Owned by the Cohen family’s Red Baron’s Barn, LLC, he picked up $120,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $362,712. His overall record now stands at 24-4-6-5.
“Tyler rode him just the way we talked about it,” said Mullins. “It unfolded just the way I thought it would. I thought Ashleyluvssugar would go to the lead, and I thought Papacoolpapacool and maybe the one (Inordinate) would go, and they did. When ‘Ashley’ started sneaking away, I told Tyler to be right on his heels, and he was.”
Dogged throughout, the Gary Stevens-ridden Ashleyluvssugar tired late to finish third. This allowed longshot Syntax to come up for second money, finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of the 6-5 favorite. With Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, the Irish-bred Syntax was off at 27-1. Liam the Charmer missed 3rd by a head at the wire. Texas Ryano, Power Foot, Inordinate, Papacoolpapacool, Buster Douglas, Some in Tieme, Site Read, and Flamboyant completed the order of finish.
“I was happy when we got to the three quarter (pole), it seemed like we were two minute licking ’em,” said Stevens. “I wasn’t overly happy when Tyler tied into me on the bottom (Clubhouse) turn, but he got the prize. This horse, believe it or not, is better off with a target. He was kind of looking around on the lead today.”
Complete fractions on the race were 25.34, 48.80, 1:13.13, and 1:36.97.
Itsinthepost returned $15.60, $8.60, and $4.40. Syntax brought back $24.80 and $9.20, while Ashleyluvssugar paid $2.10 to show.
Santa Anita Park