C.T. Grether Inc.'s Crafty C.T. set the early pace and drew away in the stretch, winning the $200,000 San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) by four lengths over Palmeiro on a fast track at Santa Anita on Saturday. Under jockey Eddie Delahoussaye, Crafty C.T. completed the one-mile race for 3-year-olds in 1:35.79.
Palmeiro challenged Crafty C.T. on the second turn as a wide Early Flyer closed in on the leaders. Once in the stretch, Crafty C.T. kicked clear and extended his lead to the wire.
"Well, he did everything I asked him to do," said Delahoussaye. "He relaxed well on the lead, and when those horses came to him on the inside and the outside, that's when I called on him, and he just gave it to me. He was striding very nicely at the end. Hopefully, he'll continue to improve."
"I'm very pleased with the horse's effort today," said Kent Desormeaux, jockey of second-place finisher Palmeiro. "The track is very much a speed track today. My horse ran a gallant race, but Crafty C. T. was not to be denied. Congratulations to Crafty C.T., Howie Zucker and the Grethers. I mean, their horse just ran wild today."
Early Flyer finished third, four lengths clear of Wild and Wise. Learing At Kathy, Swordfish, Victory Roar, Media Mogul, and Piccolo Player completed the order of finish.
The win was the second in three career starts for Crafty C.T. (Crafty Prospector -- Andriana B., by Far North). The Howard Zucker-trained colt earned his first career win when he wired a maiden field at Santa Anita in February. Crafty C.T. was bred in Kentucky by Richard S. Kaster and earned $120,000 for the win.
As the 11-10 favorite, Crafty C.T. returned $6.40, $4, and $2.60. Palmeiro paid $4.20 and $2.60. Early Flyer paid $2.60 to show. The $1 exacta returned $11.90.
"We're having a blast," said Zucker. "The horse ran up to all the hype. We'll see how he comes up out of this and if everything's all right, we'll look at the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I, April 7). I liked the speed holding on in some of the other (earlier) races, but it really was a matter of whether they like this type of track. They were calling it 'good,' and once he ran 1:35 and change, they're calling it fast, but he made it look fast. The colt really favors kind of an off track."
John Sadler, Palmeiro's trainer, also indicated the Santa Anita Derby would be the next target for his colt. (Chart, Equibase