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ARCADIA, CA – After earning his first graded stakes score last time out in the 6 1/2-furlong Laz Barrera (G3), trainer Eric Kruljac’s The Chosen Vron successfully stretched out to win his routing debut in Sunday’s $100,000 Affirmed Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.
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The Chosen Vron and jockey Umberto Rispoli broke from post 3 as the 8/5 second choice and allowed his four rivals to outkick him heading into the clubhouse turn.
Jimmy Irish dueled inside Defunded through opening fractions of :23.25 and :46.34, but Jimmy Irish faded as the field hit the far turn and yielded command to Defunded.
Though Defunded straightened for home with a multiple-length lead, The Chosen Vron – who tipped out while cornering – launched a strong stretch-run rally that propelled him to the front near the 1/16 pole.
Pulling away late, The Chosen Vron crossed 1 1/4 lengths clear while stopping the clock for the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route in 1:44.01.
“On the first turn, he was just completely relaxed,” Rispoli said. “I had him in a good spot. I threw him on the inside because I know he likes the kickback, and I traveled all the way inside to find a good spot at the 3/8 pole, just moving him up. At that point, I knew he was the horse to beat. I felt that I had so much horse under me that he did the rest.”
Defunded was 11 lengths clear of Classier, the 7/5 favorite who was making his first start since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last November. Mr Impossible. and Jimmy Irish were similarly strung out to complete the order of finish in the race restricted to 3-year-olds.
The Chosen Vron’s win was his third straight following January’s 6 1/2-furlong Echo Eddie Stakes against fellow California-breds and the Laz Barrera, improving his overall record to 5-4-0-1 with $270,600 earned. Though the gelded son of Vronsky defeated open company rivals for the second time in 3 tries, Kruljac said that he’ll likely return to face his own kind next time out in the 7-furlong Real Good Deal Stakes.
“I decided to go here today to experiment with the distance because we have almost 40 days to (the Real Good Deal) at Del Mar, so we had time to regroup if it didn’t go well,” said Kruljac, who also co-owns with Robert Fetkin, John Sondereker, and Richard Thornburgh. “I thought he’d show more natural speed, but they sent a couple horses real hard and Umberto took the initiative… He rode the horse with a lot of faith and he got there. He had a lot of kickback on him, but he’ll run through it, this horse.”
The Chosen Vron returned $5.20 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.10 to show. Defunded brought back $3 to place and $2.10 to show. Classier paid $2.10 to show.
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