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ARCADIA, CA – Little Red Feather Racing and Norman Tavares’ Marckie’s Water bided his time until the right moment before launching a steady rally that got him along just in time to win Saturday’s $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 3 under Tiago Pereira as the 2/1 second choice, Marckie’s Water pulled early but soon settled along the inside near the rear as the field passed the judges for the first time. Up front, Morse Code and Tizzarunner dueled through fractions of :24.67, :48.83, 1:13.36, and 1:37.19 for the opening mile while maintaining a multiple-lengths advantage.
As the field raced through the far turn, Pereira put Marckie’s Water to task, to which he responded gamely. Tipped out to run wide down the middle of the lane, Marckie’s Water initially appeared to spin his wheels, but inside the final furlong marker, he suddenly found his best footing and exploded.
Gobbling up ground with every step, the Richard Baltas trainee crossed with a 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 2:00.95 for the 1 1/4-mile marathon event over the firm turf course.
“The last race, he didn’t break very well for me,” Pereira said. “This time, he broke well and he really relaxed after we passed the finish line the first time. We settled in behind horses, and when it was time to go, we went outside and he really responded.”
United experienced a scary moment early on, clipping heels with Tizzarunner as they made the dirt crossing, but he recovered quickly and was able to settle. He made a bid in the stretch between foes and fought gamely but was unable to get to the front and settled for second.
“No, it happened very early in the race and we had a chance to recover,” said United’s jockey Flavien Prat when asked if clipping heels cost him the win. “As you saw, he ran really good.”
A four-way photo finish for third ultimately went to Ashleyluvssugar by a head over the 8/5 favorite Prime Attraction, with Morse Code and Ya Gotta Wanna each a nose behind him. Tizzarunner weakened late before completing the order of finish.
Marckie’s Water’s win was his first in a graded stakes event and his second straight overall, following an allowance score here last month while going 1 1/8 miles over the lawn. The California-bred 5-year-old son of Tribal Rule improved his record to 18-6-0-2 with $466,683 earned.
“Wow,” Baltas said after the close finish. “They were all lined up there and I was just hoping he was going to explode the last part. He kicked on like he was the best horse.”
Marckie’s Water returned $6.80 to win, $3.80 to place, and $2.60 to show. United brought back $4.60 to place and $3 to show, while Ashleyluvssugar paid $3.40 to show.
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