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ARCADIA, CA – C R K Stable’s Midcourt put himself on the lead early and never looked back, masterfully taking the field gate to wire in Saturday’s $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking well from post 5 under Victor Espinoza as the 2/1 second choice, Midcourt dueled with Restrainedvengence to his inside as the field passed by for the first time, then hustled his way forward to hold sole command heading into the clubhouse turn. Once on the lead, Midcourt strolled ahead by over a length while posting fractions of :23.50, :47.31, and 1:11.26.
Coming off the rail slightly as he rounded the far turn, Midcourt was put to a slight drive as Restrainedvengence made a failed attempt to close the gap. Espinoza checked over his shoulder to ensure that nobody was coming, then hand-rode Midcourt home the final 1/16 of a mile.
Crossing 3 1/2 lengths the best, the John Shirreffs trainee completed the 1 1/8-mile event over the fast main track in a final time of 1:48.49.
“With him, you never know how he is gonna perform coming out of the gate,” Espinoza said, referencing Midcourt’s poor break last out in the San Antonio Stakes (G2), which saw his four-race win streak end. “Today, he wanted to run. He broke not very quick, but when I encouraged him to go, he wanted to do his own thing. I wasn’t going to take him out of his race, so I just let him run and cruise around.”
Two Thirty Five closed well from his stalking position to take second by 2 1/4 lengths over Combatant, while King Abner was a length behind him in fourth. Restrainedvengence slipped back to fifth, with Instagrand necking out the 9/5 favorite Roadster for sixth.
California Street and Bold Endeavor completed the order of finish. Route Six Six was scratched.
Midcourt’s win improved his overall record to 9-5-1-1 with $342,695 earned. The 5-year-old gelded son of Midnight Lute will likely make his next start in the 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita Handicap (G1) here on March 7.
“He’s got that big stride, and he may run with his head up and you would like it down a little further, but it doesn’t matter with this horse,” said Lee Searing of C R K Stable. “This horse really wants to run, he wants too fool around at the barn. He’s a real goofball, but he just wants to run now. This horse can turn out to be a star.”
Midcourt returned $6.40 to win, $3.60 to place, and $3 to show. Two Thirty Five brought back $14.20 to place and $8.20 to show, while Combatant paid $6.20 to show.
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