Red Warrior's Ambush Takes Millions Sprint

Red Warrior's Ambush Takes Millions Sprint
Photo: AP/Mark J. Terrill
California-bred Red Warrior, with Garrett Gomez aboard, crosses the finish line to win the Sunshine Millions Vinery Sprint, Saturday at Santa Anita.
Red Warrior, last of 11 after a quarter of a mile, closed powerfully to register a one-length victory at odds of 47-1 in the $300,000 Padua Stables Sprint Saturday, part of the Sunshine Millions program at Santa Anita Park.

Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Red Warrior, a 5-year-old California-bred horse by Benchmark, closed from well out on the track after swerving wide in the stretch to edge past 10-year-old Full Moon Madness close to home. Favored Areyoutalkintome tired in the stretch to finish third, a head behind, with Bilo fourth.

Juan Garcia trains the winner, who won his first stakes race for owner Miguel Rubio of Tijuana. The final time for the six-furlong event was 1:08 4/5 on a wet fast track. The odds were the second-longest in the three-year history of Sunshine Millions.

"This is a horse of the future," Garcia said.

The winning payoff was $97, $34.80 and $9.40.

Red Warrior was wide out for the first portion of the race, switched to the inside while making progress into the turn and closed from fifth in the final furlong.

The race was marred by the breakdown of Green Team near the quarter pole after leading through sizzling fractions of :20 4/5 and :43 3/5. Green Team suffered a fracture of the left front sesamoid and was euthanized.

My Cousin Matt was forced to take up to avoid Green Team leaving the turn and lost all chance.

Red Warrior was able to avoid that problem while swerving wide leaving the turn and angling farther out for the stretch run. He rallied under left-handed urging from Gomez while lugging in slightly.

"He actually kept me pretty close to them early on, a little closer than I thought he would," Gomez said. "And from there I just tried to save a little ground. About the three-eighths pole right before (Green Team) broke down I was starting to make a little run, and when I was making my run a couple of them kind of swung out in front of me and I had to check for a second. He's so big I was amazed that he got going again."

Full Moon Madness, ridden by Mike Smith, circled four wide on the far turn and was extremely game in defeat, nipping Areyoutalkintome for the place spot. Bilo led in upper stretch before falling back.

"I thought he had it," said Smith.

The chestnut Red Warrior, who is out of the Plugged Nickle mare Sparkling Nickle, was coming off a second-place finish in an optional claiming/allowance race on sloppy going at Santa Anita Jan. 8. He won for the fourth time in 13 career efforts while earning $165,000. His career bankroll stands at $296,520.

Full Moon Madness returned $11.20 and $4.80. Full Moon Madness returned $11.20 and $4.80. Areyoutalkintome was $3.20 to show.

Following Bilo was Onebadshark, Shake You Down, My Cousin Matt, Bourbon n Blues and Revello. Green Team and Bang, who was pulled up when bleeding from the nostrils, did not finish.

(Chart, Equibase)

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