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ARCADIA, Calif. (May 21, 2016)—With a lively pace to run at, Wild Dude skimmed the rail turning for home under Rafael Bejarano and overtook favored Subtle Indian in the final sixteenth of a mile to win Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Kona Gold Stakes by one length. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Wild Dude, who broke from the rail, covered 6 ½ furlongs in 1:15.10.
In a bizarre turn of events, Subtle Indian, who was riding a four-race winning streak at Oaklawn Park coming into the Kona Gold, broke sharply under regular rider Ramon Vazquez and when recent Los Angeles Stakes winner San Onofre was abruptly pulled up coming out of the seven furlong chute, Subtle Indian found himself on a lonely heading to the half mile pole and into the far turn. However, the field compressed approaching the quarter pole and Wild Dude, who was well back early, took command late.
The third choice in the wagering in a field of eight older horses at 9-2, Wild Dude paid $11.20, $4.00 and $2.80.
“We gave this horse a little time and he’s been training really well,” said Hollendorfer, who also co-owns the 6-year-old Florida-bred horse by Wildcat Heir with Green Smith, Jr. “I didn’t know if the number one post would hurt him, but he got real lucky and got through, so that was what won the race for him. He’s a real nice horse. He’s a millionaire now and we’re very proud of him.
With the winner’s share of $120,000, Wild Dude’s career earnings zoomed to $1,095,232. In getting his fifth career Santa Anita win, Wild Dude improved his overall mark to 22-8-5-4.
“I knew that (Subtle Indian) would go to the lead,” said Bejarano. “I thought other horses would go with him but I just took my time. I knew my horse would show me a big kick but I had to make sure by the three eighths pole that I had enough room. I let him go in the stretch, had a clean trip and my horse won.”
Hammered to favoritism at 4-5, Subtle Indian fought off all challengers a quarter mile out, but couldn’t withstand the late charge of the winner and had to settle for second, a half length in front of Cautious Giant. Subtle Indian paid $2.80 and $2.40.
“I think Subtle Indian ran a good race today,” said Vazquez. “He never quits and he tries really hard. I think he is better at six furlongs. Today, at six and a half, he had to go a little more. In this case, the other horse just ran better than mine.”
Ridden by Santiago Gonzalez, Cautious Giant out-gamed Coastline late and finished third by a neck. Off at 14-1, Cautious Giant paid $4.20 to show.
San Onofre, who was ridden by Edwin Maldonado, sustained two broken sesamoid bones in his right front ankle and had to be euthanized.
Fractions on the race were 21.58, 44.37 and 1:08.76.
RAFAEL BEJARANO, WILD DUDE, WINNER: “I had a very good trip. I knew that (Subtle Indian) would go to the lead. I thought other horses would go with him too, so I just took my time. I knew my horse would show me a big kick but I had to make sure by the three-eighths pole that I had enough room. I let him go in the stretch, had a clean trip and my horse won.”
RAMON VAZQUEZ, SUBTLE INDIAN, SECOND: ”I think (Subtle Indian) ran a good race today. He never quits and he tries really hard. I think he is better at six furlongs. Today, at six and a half he had to go a little more. In this case, the other horse just ran better than mine. I think he has potential to be better in the future. I’ve ridden this horse four times and he keeps getting better.”
JERRY HOLLENDORFER, WILD DUDE, WINNER: “We gave this horse a little time, and he’s been training really well. I thought he would run a heck of a race. I didn’t know if the number one post would hurt him, but he got real lucky and got through, so that was what won the race for him. He’s a real nice horse. He’s a millionaire now, and we’re very proud of him.”
ROBERTINO DIODORO, SUBTLE INDIAN, SECOND: “Yeah, he ran tough. I thought he showed a lot of guts today. At the top of the lane it looked like they might run right over him. He ran a tough race.
“Ramon gets along with him and he’s a good rider so, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. He’s been on a winning streak with him, so why change rider’s right?
“We’ll give him a few day then start making a plan. We don’t think he’s going anywhere. We’ll keep him here for now.”
Saturday’s co-feature, the $75,000 Mizdirection Stakes, for fillies and mares 3 and up at 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course, was run immediately following the Kona Gold, as the 10th race on an 11-race card. Taken in gate to wire fashion, it was won by Pamela Ziebarth’s homebred So Sweetitiz, won by a half length over Miss Double dOro while getting the distance in 1:13.70.
Ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Marty Jones, So Sweetitiz, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Grand Slam, was off at 7-1 in a field of eight and paid $17.00, $7.00 and $4.20.
“It’s been a process with this filly,” said Jones. “She’s had her ups and downs and she’s been real aggressive. It seems like once we got her on the turf, she started getting confident and doing things the right way. Mike rode a great race. I expected her to be up close, but with Mike you kind of just tell him what she’s like, and he takes care of the rest.”
Miss Double d’Oro paid $3.60 and $2.40.
Swift Lady, the 9-5 favorite, paid $2.60 to show.
First post time for a 10-race card on Sunday at Santa Anita is at 2 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.
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