Jockey Rafael Bejarano's biggest problem in winning the $150,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Santa Anita turf Saturday was trying to keep the Japanese-bred Silent Name patient as they waited for room on the far turn.
"I tried to stay comfortable on my horse but he wanted to go,' said the 23-year-old Peruvian Bejarano, whose win in the one-mile Arcadia was the biggest of his six victories on the day. "I asked him a little bit at the three-eighths pole and he just kept going."
Silent Name, making his second United States start for trainer Gary Mandella, was able to gain the lead when a spot opened up on the inside. He kicked clear in the stretch to win gamely as much the best by 1 1/2 lengths over some tough rivals at odds of 6-1. The final time was a flashy 1:33 on firm going.
Chinese Dragon, who overcame some tight traffic in the stretch for Corey Nakatani, rallied for second by three-quarters of a length over Milk It Mick, the 19-10 favorite in the field of 10 after winning the Frank Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) last month. Another grade I winner, Sweet Return, ran sixth in his first start in six months.
A multiple listed winner in France for trainer Christiane Head-Maarek last year who also ran fourth in the Prix de la Foret (Fr-I), Silent Name, a 4-year-old son of Sunday Silence, gave an inkling of his ability in his U.S. debut on the Santa Anita lawn March 12. Away poorly in the one-mile allowance race for Victor Espinoza, Silent Name spotted his nine rivals 14 lengths that day after a half-mile but charged six wide into the lane to get up by three-quarters of a length.
Such heroics weren't needed Saturday as he broke in much better fashion and saved ground in fourth place before launching his bid on the far turn. Becrux had the early lead, setting fractions of :22 3/5 and :46 while never able to shake the pace pressure from Tedo, who faded on the turn. Silent Name grabbed the lead while completing six furlongs in 1:09 2/5.
Silent Name carried 116 pounds to victory, four less than the top-weighted Sweet Return and three fewer than Chinese Dragon.
"This horse can run a touch," Mandella said. "He ran a number of times last year (in France) and he needed a little break. He'd run hard and needed a little freshening.
"He was ranker today than the first time I ran him, but it's OK. As long as he's covered up, he's OK. I'm going to keep him at a mile and probably run him twice, maybe three more times before the Breeders' Cup."
Chinese Dragon, seventh on the turn, weaved through traffic in the stretch to finish a good second, beating out Milk It Mick, who edged Terroplane by a neck for the show spot. Then came Becrux, Sweet Return, who faded after stalking the leaders early, Capitano, Helm Bank, Tedo and Runaway Dancer, who trailed all the way.
Silent Name, who paid $14.40, $7, and $4, picked up his fifth win in 12 lifetime starts while earning $90,000 for owners Wertheimer and Frere. He has made $263,511 in his career.
Chinese Dragon, who had a four-race winning streak last year and was coming off a tough-luck loss in the Kilroe, returned $5 and $3.20. Milk It Mick, who won the Kilroe by a head at odds of 12-1, was $2.80 to show with David Flores in the irons.