Domestic Dispute, who hadn't reached the winner's circle in more than a year, rallied in spite of trouble in the stretch run to defeat During and his former trainer Bob Baffert by a neck in the $300,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II) for 4-year-olds at Santa Anita Saturday.
Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, the son of Unbridled's Song
was blocked at the eighth pole, but swung out to resume his rally and got up in the closing strides. It was Domestic Dispute's first win since taking the Catalina Stakes (gr. II) by three lengths in January 2003 while under the care of Baffert. The chestnut colt had lost eight consecutive races.
"It worked out really nice because turning for home I felt defeated because I had nowhere to go," Desormeaux said. "I thought I was going to have to eat this one. And then he got out and exploded and it was such a complete change of emotion in 21 seconds. I knew he was full of run, I just had nowhere to go. He was running over the horses in front of him, he was just trapped. So I felt like I was beaten and a quarter of a mile later I was in front. It was very nerve-wracking. "
The final time for the 1 1/8-mile Strub was 1:49 on a fast track. Buckland Manor finished third, three-quarters of a length behind During, who won the second leg of the Strub series, the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) last month. Midas Eyes, the 5-2 favorite in the field of 11, was fourth, a half-length behind Buckland Manor.
Baffert had trained the winner until he was purchased privately by Dave Bienstock and Charles Winner of Beverly Hills prior to the 2003 Kentucky Derby (gr. I). Domestic Dispute finished 10th in the Derby.
After a series of defeats following that, Domestic Dispute was an encouraging fourth in the San Fernando.
"He's always trained well, even when Bob (Baffert) had him, too," said winning trainer Paddy Gallagher. "I was just happy he showed up today. He looked like he was the best horse. He got in some trouble and Kent (Desormeaux) seemed quite high on him."
During, with David Flores aboard, had seized a narrow lead in the final sixteenth of a mile after making a four-wide move into the stretch. Baffert said he thought his horse never saw the winner until it was too late.
"He thought he had it won and when he makes the lead then he wants to let up," Baffert said. "He ran so hard that it was just a tough go. He's getting better and better."
Buckland Manor showed the way early, getting the opening quarter-mile in a quick :22 1/5 under Corey Nakatani, who gave way to 35-1 Anziyan Royalty for fractions of :45 4/5 and 1:10 1/5 before taking back the lead briefly in the stretch after a mile in 1:35 4/5. He fought gamely through the stretch while on the inside before giving way late.
Midas Eyes was four or five wide all the way around for jockey Alex Solis, finishing well to be fourth.
Domestic Dispute won for the third time in 16 starts while earning $180,000 for the victory. His lifetime purse total increased to $483,115.
Gary Garber bred the winner, who is from the dam Majestical Moment (by Magesterial), in Kentucky.
He paid $30.60, $10.40 and $5.40. During returned $6.40 and $4.20. Buckland Manor's show was $4.60. The $2 exacta was worth $191.
After Midas Eyes came Formal Attire, Eye of the Tiger, Saint Buddy, Toccet, Mud Shark, Buddy Gil and Anziyan Royalty.