David and Jill Heerensperger’s Artiste Royaldidn’t show his age when he went from last to first to win the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Park Jan. 19.
With Garrett Gomez riding for trainer Neil Drysdale, Artiste Royal, an 8-year-old ridgling by Danehill, flew home from last in the 1 1/4-mile stakes to win by a nose over Medici Code. Ferneley was third, followed by Spring House in fourth.
Black Astor set the early pace in the San Marcos through fractions of :23.32 for the first quarter-mile, :47.38 for a half-mile, 1:11.67 for six furlongs, and 1:35.14 for one mile. Horses began to bunch together as the field turned for home, but Medici Code, who grabbed the lead in the stretch, was collared late by Artiste Royal.
The final time for 1 1/4 miles on the firm turf was 1:59.16.
Artiste Royal, who paid $7.80 to win as the 5-2 favorite, finished 11th in his last start, the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) on the turf Dec. 14. In 2008, he won the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park.
“In the race in Hong Kong, he was never able to compete at all,” Drysdale told HRTV after the race.
“I let him show me the way,” Gomez said. “When it came time to quicken, he was there for me.”
Artiste Royal, an Irish-bred out of the Manila mare Agathe, won for the seventh time in 28 starts. He is closing in on $900,000 in career earnings.