Harris Farms' High Standards kept his record unblemished in three starts when he came from slightly off the pace to collar tiring Run Thruthe Sun and draw off to an easy 2 1/2-length victory in Saturday's $110,450-added Baldwin Stakes for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita Park.
The Baldwin, originally a grade III event scheduled for the downhill turf course at 6 1/2 furlongs, was switched to the main track, stripping it of its graded status pending a review by the American Graded Stakes Committee.
High Standards has come a long ways in a short time. Trained by Martin Jones, the California-bred gelded son of High Brite-Tomato Paste (Torsion) was a maiden winner for a $50,000 claiming price in his debut at Hollywood Park Nov. 25. After a brief layoff, High Standards won a first-level allowance race at Bay Meadows in his last effort Feb. 11. Both victories came in gate-to-wire fashion.
Saturday, High Standards relaxed for Edgar Prado after breaking inward, made his bid on the outside of the pacesetter, then kicked into gear approaching the eighth pole to win under left-handed urging in 1:16 on a fast track.
Prado said he met the horse for the first time in the paddock. "They told me, 'he's a nice horse, he should run if you ask him. 'Today's the test.' He passed the test."
Bushwacker pushed Run Thruthe Sun and jockey Jon Court through a blinding opening quarter of :21 2/5 before dropping back fast, leaving Run Thruthe Sun to lead through a half-mile in a swift :44. High Standards increased the pressure through the stretch and edged away after they completed six furlongs in 1:09 1/5.
Talking to John rallied late to nip Run Thruthe Sun by a nose at the wire for second. Late challenger English-bred The Pheasant Flyer, ridden by Garrett Gomez, came on for fourth.
Five of the original 12 starters were scratched, leaving the previously undefeated Chandtrue as the 8-5 favorite. Chandtrue chased the pace to the turn before backing out without making an impression and finishing sixth. Chandtrue won all four of his starts as a 2-year-old, including the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) in his last start in July.
"I had no horse," jockey Corey Nakatani complained. "I thought he was good. He's been training good, I thought. I don't know. We'll see what happens when he gets back to the barn."
Jones indicated he was hoping the Baldwin would be shifted to the main track, but said he would have run High Standards on the grass. The $66,270 winner's share increased the chestnut's bankroll to $100,920.
"We were sort of hoping it would come off the turf just because we knew he has run well on the dirt, whereas we weren't really sure what he'd do on the turf." Jones said that now that High Standards has shown he can rate, he needs to stretch him out.
The fifth choice of the public, High Standards paid $16.60, $7.20 and $4.40. Talking to John returned $8.20 and $4.60 and completed $132.40 exacta. Run Thruthe Sun's show was $5.
Following The Pheasant Flyer were Hesabully, Chandtrue and Bushwacker. Eastern Sand, Orbits World, Sunny Sky, Il Colosseo and Cammies Future all scratched.