A $40,000 claim by trainer Rafael Becerra out of the gelding's debut victory for owner K.K. Sangara at Santa Anita in April, Celtic Dreamin made his stakes debut in the B.C. Derby. He is a nose away from being undefeated in six starts.
Sangara had been unsuccessful in four prior tries at winning the B.C. Derby.
“I wanted to win this so badly for K.K.,” Becerra said in the winner’s circle. “I know how much it means to him.”
Ridden by veteran Gerry Olguin, the California-bred Celtic Dreamin shook loose of his challengers on the final turn and cruised home by 5 1/2 lengths, completing the 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-olds in 1:49 2/5 on a fast track.
Celtic Dreamin is a son of Game Plan bred by Rainbow Meadows Farm. The dam of Celtic Dreamin, Astral Dreamer (On the Sauce), is a full sister to 1995 B.C. Derby winner Flying Sauce.
The maiden Gandolf, another SoCal shipper ridden by Jake Barton for trainer Jason Orman, stalked the winner on the outside but proved to be no match, settling for second at odds of 26-1.
Sir Gallovic, the 6-5 favorite in the field of 10, finished third, three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up. The Victory Gallop colt was boxed in on the inside of the early leaders -- Another Kris, Celtic Dreamin and Canadian Derby (Can-III) winner Footprint -- for most of the journey and did not appear comfortable there. Sir Gallovic finally got room along the inside on the final turn but had no response when Celtic Dreamin broke away from the leaders.
Another Kris set early fractions of :23 and :47 before Celtic Dreamin edged to the front on the outside after completing six furlongs in 1:11 4/5.
Three of Celtic Dreamin's five wins are on synthetic racing surfaces. His last victory came by 1 1/4 lengths over allowance foes at 1 1/16 miles on Del Mar's Polytrack Aug. 22. Celtic Dreamin's only loss was by a nose in an allowance optional claiming race on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track July 8. The B.C. Derby victory, worth US$146,583, boosted the bay's bankroll to $269,583.
Sent off as the second choice, Celtic Dreamin paid $8.50, $4.80 and $3.10, topping a $133.20 exacta. Gandolf, also second in the Canadian Derby Aug. 25 at Northlands Park Aug. 25, returned $17.30 and $7.50. Sir Gallovic, winner of back-to-back starts at Hastings by a combined 14 1/2 lengths coming into the race, was $2.50 to show. Sir Gallovic had won three in a row.
Jamaica Bound finished fourth, followed by Ookashada. Amazing Blue, Another Kris, Rage Till Dawn, Beckenbauer and Footprint, whose three-race winning streak also came to an end. All carried 126 pounds.