Boomzeeboom, passed in the stretch by his stablemate Twice as Bad, responded to exuberant urging from Victor Espinoza and came back on the inside to post a half-length victory in the $110,200 Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood Park Saturday.
A Florida-bred son of Explosive Red, Boomzeeboom, overlooked at odds of 12-1, competed the 1 1/16 mile in 1:42 while leading most of the way. Twice as Bad, who appeared ready to sweep to victory in the final furlong under top weight of 121 pounds, settled for second under Corey Nakatani, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Wimplestiltskin. Vladimir Cerin trained both of the first two finishers, who, he said, would be pointed to the Swaps Stakes (gr. II) July 10.
Boomzeeboom received six pounds from the runner-up.
Cheiron, the 6-5 favorite in a field of nine, rallied to get fourth with Alex Solis aboard, 3 3/4 lengths behind the winner.
Boomzeeboom, intent to lead from the start, was three wide into the first turn before angling in to lead Wimplestiltskin, ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., through solid fractions of :23 3/5, :47 and 1:11 1/5. Twice as Bad, stalking the leaders along the inside, launched his bid on the outside of Boomzeeboom on the far turn and put a head in front with a furlong left as Wimplestiltskin fell back, but could not hold on. The bay colt Boomzeeboom responded to left-handed whipping in deep stretch from Espinoza and proved best.
"Before the race, Vladimir reminded me that he breaks kind of slow and told me to really get into him as he comes out of the gate and then just play it by ear," Espinoza said. "He was hoping we'd be sitting second early. But at the first turn, he was so sharp that, man, I had to go.
"Then when (Twice as Bad) came to me in the stretch, he just didn't want to give up. I knew I had a lot of horse and he responded to the pressure."
Nakatani said Twice as Bad may have tired.
"It's a long step from seven-eighths of a mile to a mile-and-a-sixteenth, but he ran a big race. I was sitting right behind the other horse (Boomzeeboom). I got to him, and he rebroke.
Cheiron got untracked on the final turn and angled in for the stretch run, but lacked much response.
Hippocrates, Vencer, Lindero, O.K. Mike and Coldntight followed. Capitano scratched.
Owned by John Karubian, Alan Landsburg and Larry Postaer, Boomzeeboom was ignored by the public because of his two most recent efforts in which he beat only one horse. He was seventh in his last start, the Will Rogers (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood Park turf May 29 after a 14th place showing in Keeneland's Lexington (gr. II) April 17.
Prior to that he beat Minister Eric in an allowance and won a maiden special weight by 8 1/2 lengths in back-to-back races at Santa Anita in excellent times. Overall, he's 3-3-0 in nine starts with earnings of $151,540. Bred by Adena Springs who is from the Unreal Zeal mare Zee Lady, Boomzeeboom was a $30,000 sale last year.
"Believe me, he had pretty good excuses his last two races," Cerin said. "I thought this was a little gutsier (than his allowance win) because he was actually passed by Twice As Bad, who I really think is a top horse. But he was passed and he fought back."
The fourth choice in the field, he paid $27.20, $12.20 and $8. Twice as Bad returned $4.60 and $4.20. Wimplestiltskin was $8.60 to show. The exacta was worth $84.20.