Silentio, a lightly-raced son of Japanese-bred stallion Silent Name , registered victory in his stakes debut Dec. 26 in the $150,750 Sir Beaufort (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) on the turf at Santa Anita Park on opening day of the winter meet.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano won for the third time on the opening card of the season at Santa Anita, one race after guiding Book Review to an off-the-pace victory in the La Brea Stakes (gr. I). Bejarano replaced Garrett Gomez on Silentio.
Silentio, a robust dark bay or brown Kentucky homebred owned by Wertheimer & Frere, defeated seven rival 3-year-olds in the Sir Beaufort, completing the one-mile distance in 1:34.27 over a course rated good after rain earlier in the day. The victory in the Sir Beaufort was the colt's third in four lifetime starts for trainer Gary Mandella.
Breaking from the far outside post as the second choice, the eventual winner fell into stride in stalking position fourth while remaining on the outside. Silentio responded when asked to take the lead from Big Bane Theory near mid-stretch and the big colt held on well for a half-length victory over Battle Force. Press Baron was a length farther back in third, with Big Bane Theory fourth.
"He really liked the turf today," Bejarano said. "In his last race he broke from post one and he was kind of waiting a little bit. He still ran a good race, but the way he ran today he was clear from the outside and it was much better for him. He was more relaxed in the race so that's why he gave me a good turn of foot in the stretch."
Woodford Racing's Battle Force, the slight favorite at 3-1 odds over Silentio and Big Bane Theory, saved ground into the stretch and put in a willing effort from fifth at the furlong mark for jockey Mike Smith and trainer John Shirreffs.
"He ran too good to lose," Smith said of the favorite. "I really have to applaud the winner because he beat me today, but they both ran winning races. I think it will be to our advantage as soon as we get to go a little further."
Press Baron, stalking for Victor Espinoza, rallied in deep stretch from between horses but came up sjort.
Big Bane Theory carved the early fractions while leading Midnight Crooner, posting quarter mile splits of :23.14, :46.86, and 1:10.78.
The winner, out of the A.P. Indy mare Listen A. P., was making his fourth lifetime start in the Sir Beaufort. Silentio was coming off an allowance optional claiming test at 1 1/8 miles in which he finished a close third, his only defeat. He began his career with a victory on the Santa Anita turf at one mile over a maiden allowance field In Oct ober 2011 but came up with a leg injury. In his return 11 months later, he won a first-level optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the Del Mar lawn.
"There's no secret," said Mandella. "He's a good horse. The secret is to have a good horse and that's what this is. The only thing I'll take credit for is we gave him a lot of time for his injury as a 2-year-old. He won last year here and came out of a race with activity in his tibia that would have turned into fractures. But the bigger thing was he had some cysts in his hocks. (They were) dug out surgically and we gave him a lot of time to get over it.
"When you look at him, it's impressive he won as a 2-year-old because he's a 17-hands horse—which he was last year. Last year, he weighed probably 1,100 pounds and this year, he weighs 1,200 pounds. The time allowed him to grow into himself and become a good horse and I hope for even better things to come if I get lucky."
Mandella said he wanted to run Silentio in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) one month ago but was forced to miss the race when the colt came down with a throat infection.
The Sir Beaufort was the fifth stakes win of the year for Mandella, son of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.
"I don't know if I've ever won five stakes in the same year," he said. "We're pretty proud of that and I'm very proud of my staff. To have a barn of 16 horses and win five stakes races on the year is a very nice feeling here at the end of the year."
Under equal weights of 118 pounds, Silentio paid $8.40, $4.20, and $3 while keying an exacta worth $32.40. Battle Force returned $3.80 and $3.20, while the the Great Britain-bred Press Baron put in a big effort for third and paid $5.60. The order of finish was completed by Midnight Crooner, Conspiracy, Smart Ellis, and Fit to Rule.