ARCADIA, CA – West Point Thoroughbreds’ Kanthaka sat the perfect trip under leading rider Flavien Prat, stalking the early pace before finding an opening at the top of the stretch and kicking away to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Lazaro Barrera Stakes at Santa Anita.
Breaking from the rail as the co-6-5 favorite, Kanthaka settled in mid-pack and saved ground while the other co-favorite, McKale, took early command through splits of :23.05 and :45.53. Rounding the far turn, McKale was joined along the outside by King Cause and Beautiful Shot. Just behind them, Prat had Kanthaka poised for a big effort, but he lacked running room until a hole appeared between McKale and Beautiful Shot. Prat steered Kanthaka right through it, then kept him under a steady drive while a game Beautiful Shot refused to yield. Inching away late, the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee hit the wire first by 3/4 of a length in a final time of 1:23.25 for the 7-furlong main track sprint.
“I thought Flavien put the horse right up in there where he had a chance to get traped and not get out, but he was counting on getting a seam, and he did get the seam and went through it right away,” Hollendorfer said. “When he saw the opening, he went right through, so I was really proud of him and the rider. I think he has the potential to run longer distances, but there are 7-furlong races that fit him really good.”
Some 1 1/4 lengths behind Beautiful Shot, Zulfikhar was able get up late and nose out McKale for third. King Cause faded badly in the stretch to take fifth, while the maiden Bocephus completed the order of finish. Calexman was scratched.
Kanthaka’s win was the third of his career – all at 7 furlongs over the Santa Anita dirt – and his first since taking the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes in February. The 3-year-old son of Jimmy Creed was cutting back after failing to qualify for the Kentucky Derby in a pair of two-turn races, the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes and the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes, finishing third and sixth, respectively.
“It’s very exciting,” said Michael Grimm, one of the partners in West Point Thoroughbreds that purchased Kanthaka for $140,000 as a 2-year-old. “We love the horse; he tries so hard. You can always find the breeding for a horse, but you don’t know what’s inside of him until he actually gets into a race. He’s shown he’s got big courage. I was worried when horses came up to him in the stretch, but he held them off and showed his courage.”
Kanthaka returned $4.40 to win, $3 to place, and $2.20 to show. Beautiful Shot brought back $5.60 to place and $3.20 to show, while Zulfikhar paid $3.20 to show.