Making his stakes debut, Lorraine and Rod Rodriguez's undefeated Hosco pulled his way to the front soon after the start and stayed there, winning the $108,100 San Miguel Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds going six furlongs at Santa Anita Sunday.
Hosco, a Kentucky-bred son of Honour and Glory who made his first career start last month, held off Roi Charmant by a length in 1:09 1/5. Gethsemani was third, four lengths behind the winner, who finished a head in front of the late-running Last Minute Detail.
Hosco has not been headed at any point of call in his three races to date.
Ridden by Tyler Baze, Hosco, breaking from the rail, blitzed through rapid fractions of :21, :43 4/5 and :56, but was still untouchable at the end.
Baze said the plan was to take the lead and move off the rail, where the going was heavier.
"For as fast as we went, I was surprised how strong he finished, but every time I tried to slow him down it cut off his air so I just let him run and he kept busy right down to the wire," Baze said.
The Herc, the 8-5 favorite with Kent Desormeaux aboard, faded to sixth after trying to chase the hot pace.
Hosco opened up a length advantage on the backstretch, opened up as Roi Charmant took up the challenge on the turn for home and continued to inch away before Roi Charmant began making some headway in the final sixteenth of a mile.
Corey Nakatani, who was aboard Roi Charmant, said the colt should improve.
"He's honest and tries hard and that is all I can ask for," he said. "(Hosco) ran a tremendous race and was the better horse today. (Roi Charmant) came back good and I expect we might be able to turn the table on them next time."
Trained by Doug O'Neill, Hosco beat an optional claiming allowance field by a nose in 1:10 1/5 on opening day Dec. 26 at Santa Anita after breaking his maiden against $80,000 claimers by two lengths Dec. 4 at Hollywood Park. He earned $64,860 for Sunday's victory and has now banked $111,660.
The Grade III San Miguel is the first race of the series for 3-year-olds en route to the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on April 3. O'Neill said he may try to let Hosco try two turns in the near future.
"He's a hard horse to try and take a hold off and hopefully he'll mature, but if you try and grab a hold of him he kind of gets a little rank," O'Neill said. "He doesn't act like a horse that will go two turns but at the same time before he ever ran he didn't act like a horse who'd win three in a row."
Northwest Farm bred the dark bay colt, who was produced from the Carson City mare Cucina Cucina. He was purchased for $30,000 in Washington in August 2002.
Sent off as the third choice of the bettors, Hosco paid $10, $6.20 and $3.80. Roi Charmant returned $6.40 and $4.60. Gethsemani's show was $5.40. The $2 exacta was worth $41.20.