Seven furlongs and racing at Santa Anita always seem to bring out the best in Hasty Kris. Combined with a rail-skimming ride from Rene Douglas, it was more than enough to put the 8-year-old gelding in the winner's circle after capturing the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) Saturday.
Hasty Kris defeated the late-charging Harvard Avenue by a half-length with Perfect Moon third, another length behind. The final time was 1:21 2/5. Hasty Kris recorded his first graded stakes win in the San Carlos.
Mass Media, the 4-5 favorite in the field of eight ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, menaced in the stretch but faded out of contention, finishing out of the money.
Choctaw Nation, coming off a six-month layoff for trainer Jeff Mullins, flattened out in the stretch after rallying on the turn and finished fourth.
Douglas won for the third time in as many tries with Hasty Kris.
"I had a perfect trip," he said. "I knew I wanted to be in the clear with this horse. I know this horse, and there's no other way I could do it.
"And when I got through I knew I was going to be tough because I had a lot of horse left. I didn't whip out my whip until the sixteenth pole. It was a hell of a race. "
Trained by John Sadler for Lee and Susan Searing's C R K Stable, Hasty Kris broke from the inside and was ridden early to stalk the pacesetters Sinister G and Perfect Moon. After getting inside position, he raced patiently at the rail for Douglas. Sinister G backed up quickly coming into the stretch and Hasty Kris split rivals on the turn before he rallied along the inside to collar Perfect Moon, ridden by Corey Nakatani, and inch away to a daylight advantage inside the eighth pole. Harvard Avenue, with Tyler Baze aboard, progressed nicely in the middle of the track but could not get to the winner, who won under moderate urging.
"He's been a wonderful horse for us," Sadler said. "We've enjoyed him for a lot of years. He's a horse with a lot of tenacity. Seven furlongs is his distance."
Bred in Florida by John Franks, the Kissin Kris
-Hasty Pasty (Flying Paster) gelding Hasty Kris won for the ninth time in 42 lifetime starts. Six of those victories have come at Santa Anita and six are at seven furlongs. The $90,000 winning share pushed the bay's earnings to $571,197.
Hasty Kris was coming off a four-length win when offered for $80,000 in a 6 1/2-furlong optional claiming/allowance event at Santa Anita Jan. 20.
The second choice, he paid $9.80, $5.60 and $4.60. Harvard Avenue returned $8.40 and $5.40. Perfect Moon was $5.20 to show.
After Choctaw Nation came Oceanus, Mass Media, Del Mar Show, and Sinister G. The fractions for the race were :22, :44 2/5 and 1:08 4/5.
Valenzuela had no excuses for Mass Media.
"I had perfect striking position, but the winner got through on the inside and we just couldn't out-finish them."