Able to avoid the stumbling start that cost him any chance in his most recent race, Team Valor’s Fairbanks easily toppled his five opponents with a smooth, gate-to-wire triumph by 6 3/4 lengths in Saturday’s $107,200 Tokyo City Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita.
It was the first graded stakes win for the son of Giant's Causeway who was a $1.85 Fasig-Tipton purchase as a yearling in 2004.
Richard Migliore had the 4-year-old bay colt on the lead from the start of the 1 1/8-mile event for older horses, and they never faced a serious threat while negotiating the distance in a sharp 1:47.87. The leisurely splits included a :47.04 for the half mile and 1:11.06 for six furlongs as Fairbanks opened a three-length lead. From there, he widened his advantage in the stretch under some urging following a brief challenge, winning under steady handling as the 8-5 choice Neko Bay gained second.
“When I saw the :47 half mile, I thought we were in pretty good shape,” observed Michael McCarthy, the assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher.
“My horse broke cleanly, and I liked the way he was doing it,” said Migliore. “I just decided to go with the flow and he ran a great race. From the eighth pole to the wire, he did it very easily.”
His stumbling at the start of the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) on Feb. 4 left Fairbanks with a non-threatening sixth at 5-2 odds, and he was dismissed as the fourth choice among the six in Saturday’s Tokyo City.
Fairbanks paid $10.80, $4.60 and $3.40. Aaron Gryder, aboard Neko Bay, attempted to make a run at the leader mid-stretch. But after a brief spurt, the runner-up drifted out in the lane and had to settle for a distant second while returning $3 and $2.40. Racketeer, another length back under apprentice Joseph Talamo, paid $2.80 to show.
It was the fourth win in eight starts for the Kentucky-bred Fairbanks, who is out of the Time for a Change mare Alaska Queen. The winning purse of $64,320 boosted his earnings to $147,263.
McCarthy said he wasn’t sure when Fairbanks might race next, but noted that the colt will be headed for the Keeneland meet in Kentucky on April 10.
Preachinatthebar finished fourth, with Yes He's a Pistol and Beneath the Radar trailing.