Odds-on choice Crested, dropping out of grade I company for trainer Wally Dollase, swept past the leaders in the final furlong to capture the $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile Handicap on the grass at Phoenix's Turf Paradise Jan. 5.

The Fitzsimmons, the local prep race for the Turf Paradise Handicap Feb. 16, drew several starters from Southern California, including Crested, fifth-place finisher in Hollywood Park's Citation Handicap (gr. IT) Nov. 23. He was defeated by less than than three lengths by Lang Field that day.

Brice Blanc, riding Crested for the first time in the Fitzsimmons, engineered a perfect trip for the 5-year-old Fantastic Light gelding. Crested was well placed near the inside just behind the leading group for most of the journey, moving into contention on the final turn from between horses. In the home stretch, Crested angled out slightly for the drive, collaring pacesetters Power Strokin and Billy Allen leaving the furlong pole en route to a three-quarters of a length win. The winning time was 1:36.26 on firm going.

Power Strokin, ridden by Daniel Vergara, wound up second by three-quarters of a length over Billy Allen, making his first start for owner Bob Bone and trainer Keith Bennett after being claimed for $50,000 out of a Hollywood Park turf race Dec. 13.

Power Strokin, pressed by Billy Allen and Chris Landeros for the opening half mile, set mild fractions of :24.46 and :48.92 before Billy Allen gained a narrow edge approaching the quarter pole, completing six furlongs in 1:12.74. Power Strokin battled back gamely in the lane to gain the place spot.

The Great Britain-bred Crested recorded his first victory since taking an allowance optional claiming race on the Churchill Downs turf April 29. He won for the first time in seven starts at the one-mile distance. Owned by Horizon Stables, Crested was ready to take a step forward after his worthy try in the Citation, his first start in nearly two months. The chestnut, bred by Darley, improved to 5-3-1 in 18 lifetime starts with earnings of $343,540.

Crested carried high weight of 122 pounds to victory, paying $3.20, $2.10 and $2.10. Local hope Power Strokin, coming off a victory in the Black Bart Dec. 14 for trainer Edward Kereluk, returned $4.80 and $3.20, completing a $17 exacta. The Irish-bred Billy Allen was $3 to show.

Prorunner, Macduff, We Brothers and Highland Games followed. Global Trader and Willow O Wisp scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)

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