One stride short of back-to-back grade I turf victories, Fluke figures to be the one to beat in the $150,000 Budweiser Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) on the turf April 3, part of the Santa Anita Derby undercard April 3.
Patricia Bozano's 5-year-old Brazilian-bred was caught in the final stride as he attempted to take the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IT) field from gate to wire March 6, defeated by a nose by the Juddmonte mare Proviso. Trained by Humberto Ascanio, Fluke won the Citation Handicap (gr. IT) by 1 1/4 lengths in his previous start Nov. 27 at Hollywood Park.
Proviso was not entered for the one-mile Arcadia, though the race drew third-place Kilroe finisher Battle of Hastings and Blue Chagall, who was a close fourth. They are among seven older horses expected to line up in one of four graded stakes on the Santa Anita program. The Arcadia is the fourth race at approximately 1:34 p.m. PDT.
Joe Talamo, who rode Fluke in both of his most recent starts, has the mount again on the son of Wild Event, who breaks from post four. Fluke, who got his first North American stakes triumph in his 9-1 surprise in the Citation, has won five of 12 lifetime starts with four seconds and earnings of $358,348. He'll carry 119 pounds, one less than the top-weighted Battle of Hastings.
Michael House's millionaire Battle of Hastings, a three-time graded-stakes winner last year for trainer Jeff Mullins, bids to end a five-race losing streak since his victories in the Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) and Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) at Colonial Downs. Cutting back in distance for the Kilroe following his runner-up finish in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) to conclude his 3-year-old campaign, the British-bred son of Royal Applause stayed closer to the pace than usual before rallying wide to finish just 1 1/4 lengths behind Proviso.
Though he has not won in awhile, Battle of Hastings has been a model of consistency for his connections in the United States since the start of the 2009 season, hitting the board in 10 consecutive starts. He began his career in Great Britain and has compiled an overall record of 6-4-1 in 16 races with earnings of $1,126,592. Tyler Baze rides from the rail.
Battle of Hastings edged Blue Chagall by a half-length for third in the Kilroe. Owned by Prestonwood Racing and trained by Julio Canani, the French-bred 5-year-old gelding won the Lure Stakes on the course at the Arcadia distance during the Oak Tree meet last fall.
Certain to attract some attention is the John Harris, Donald Valpredo, and John Nicoletti California homebred Compari, who brings a five-race win streak to the Arcadia. This is just the second start against open company for the 4-year-old son of Redattore. He has not lost since a third-place finish in his maiden debut in February 2009.
Trained by Marty Jones, Compari wired the field by 3 1/4 lengths as the favorite in the one-mile Crystal Water Handicap for state-breds in his most recent race on the turf Feb. 28.
Aitcho turned in a big effort in capturing a top-level allowance heat at one mile Feb. 14, racing on the front end to a one-length win. John Shirreffs trains the 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic horse for Jerry and Ann Moss.
$150,000 Budweiser Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 4, 1:34 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Battle of Hastings (GB), T Baze, 120, J Mullins
2. Compari (CA), G K Gomez, 117, M F Jones
3. Blue Chagall (FR), A O Solis, 117, J C Canani
4. Fluke (BRZ), J Talamo, 119, H Ascanio
5. Golden Balls (IRE), B Blanc, 116, J M Cassidy
6. Swift Winds (CA), A Quinonez, 114, V L Garcia
7. Aitcho (KY), M E Smith, 115, J A Shirreffs