Favored In Summation regained some of the sparkle he lost last season with a sharp one-length win in the $98,000 El Conejo Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Santa Anita on New Year's Day.
Racing with blinkers, In Summation, who also won the El Conejo last year, closed strongly on a fast pace for jockey Rafael Bejarano to take the lead from Florida speedster Machismo at the sixteenth pole. The 6-year-old son of Put It Back edged away in the final strides to earn his 10th career stakes victory and end a five-race losing streak.
The final time for the 5 1/2-furlong event was 1:02.58.
"It set up perfectly," said Nicholas Bachalard, assistant to trainer Christophe Clement. "I’m not sure blinkers made a difference, but we’ll probably keep them on him."
A field reduced to four by the scratch of its In God's Hands boasted three grade I winners in In Summation, Johnny Eves and Black Seventeen. Things did not go well for Johnny Eves, who dropped off the pace after Machismo clicked off a sizzling opening quarter-mile of :21.25 and faded out of contention with Garrett Gomez aboard.
And the results weren't much better for Black Seventeen, who was a jump slow to start for jockey Clinton Potts and was hurried into contention between horses to press the leader through the half-mile in :44.05. Potts was scrubbing on Black Seventeen, who got a head in front briefly near the furlong marker before tiring and eventually settling for third.
That left it up to In Summation, who trailed to the turn but had dead aim on the leaders while four wide in upper stretch. The dark bay kept to his task on the outside and eventually got to Machismo, who put in a game effort under Mike Smith.
In Summation had not won since the last time Bejarano rode him, which was in the Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Jan. 21. In Summation scored for his third time in six starts over the track and remained perfect in four tries at the 5 1/2-furlong distance.
“It’s good to be back on this horse," Bejarano said. "We sat behind the speed and he was full of run at the top of the stretch. He gave me a big kick, but when he made the lead he tried to pull himself up a little bit. I got after him a little and he kept on going. I think the blinkers helped but we probably need to open them up a little so he can see the other horses.”
The Sunshine Millions Sprint, worth $300,000 at Santa Anita Jan. 24, or the Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II), worth $150,000 the following day, are the next targets for In Summation, Bachalard said.
"He’ll have one more race here before he goes back to Florida, then likely come back for Del Mar,” he added.
Owned by Thomas Moore's Waterford Stable, In Summation has a lifetime mark of 11-7-1 in 27 starts with earnings of $1,175,166. Arthur I. Appleton bred In Summation, who is out of Fiesta Baby (by Dayjur) in Florida.
The winner carried 120 pounds to victory and paid $4.40 and $2.60. The stakes-place Machismo, in his first start for trainer John Sadler and new owners Gary and Cecil Barber, returned $4.20 and completed a $2 exacta worth $7.60. It was 2 1/2 lengths to third-place finisher Black Seventeen, who carried top weight of 121 pounds. Johnny Eves was eased in the final furlong.