After a disappointing comeback race a month ago, Singletary, the 2004 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) upset winner, proved he was back on top of his game with a solid victory in the $150,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Park Saturday.
Ridden by Alex Solis, Singletary took the lead from Sweet Stepper on the outside with about a quarter of a mile to go, inched clear by 1 1/2 lengths at the furlong pole and held off challenges from Sweet Return and Buckland Manor for a one-length victory. Singletary ran the final eighth of a mile in :11 2/5, making sure no one caught him.
"He proved today we're still the champ," said winning trainer Don Chatlos. "We still wear the crown until they beat us at Belmont Park."
Chatlos was referring to the 2005 Breeders' Cup Mile on Oct. 29.
Singletary, a 5-year-old bay horse by Sultry Song
, earned $90,000 for owner Little Red Feather Racing, a 13-member syndicate managed by Bill Koch. He has won $1,529,732 with seven wins, five seconds and two thirds in 18 lifetime starts.
He carried high weight of 120 pounds, three more than the second and third-place finishers.
Sweet Return, ridden by Corey Nakatani, nosed the 11-10 favorite Buckland Manor, Rene Douglas aboard, for second in the five-horse field. Runaway Dancer and Sweet Stepper trailed.
In his first start since winning the BC Mile at odds of 16-1 on a yielding Lone Star Park course last fall, Singletary tired and finished seventh in the Frank Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. I) March 5 at Santa Anita after enjoying a stalking trip for Solis.
"He was a hundred percent today," Solis said. "Last time, he was a little sluggish; he hadn't run in a while, and he got caught up with the rain and so on."
Sweet Stepper set a modest early pace of :23 2/5 and :47 2/5.
"My main concern was just to get a good pace, and if I was close to the lead to make sure the pace was slow," Solis said. "What I was hoping for more was to get a fast pace and lay a little far behind but it didn't quite come out that way, but I have to take it as it comes."
Singletary bounced back Saturday to win in an excellent time of 1:33 2/5, paying $6, $3.40, and $2.10. Sweet Return, who hasn't won since taking the 2004 Kilroe, tried stalking tactics Saturday and returned $3.40 and $2.10. Buckland Manor showed for $2.10.
"There was no pace in there ... with these kind of horses that's pretty much giving money away to the frontrunners," Nakatani said of Sweet Return. "He ran a real game race, though."