Favored Surf Cat unleashed a huge move on the turn for jockey Alex Solis and swept past the field to romp to victory in the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Saturday.
Solis, the regular rider for Surf Cat, won his fourth straight race on the Santa Anita program.
The 4-year-old Surf Cat, in his first start since an allowance win at Santa Anita Oct. 10, had one horse beaten when Solis wound him up on the turn for his sweeping rally. The son of Sir Cat
inhaled his rivals and won going away by 2 1/4 lengths in a strong time of 1:22 for the seven-furlong distance. He carried 117 pounds.
"It was incredible," Solis said of the grade II winning Surf Cat's big effort off the bench. "He's a great horse. I think he's going to do better this year. He's more mature. In the past, he was a young horse and a little aggressive, but now he's matured. I had him relaxed all the way around and, when I hit the three-eighths (pole), my plan was to start making my move then. The best thing about him is, when he goes long, he shows that nice, high-cruising speed."
Major Success, who led the field by a couple of lengths after disposing of pacesetter Brand Name coming off the turn, was clearly second best by about three lengths. The Brazilian-bred 35-1 shot Oceanus nosed Jet West for third.
Brand Name set a lively pace of :22 3/4, :45 1/5 and 1:09 4/5 with Major Success and Patrick Valenzuela poised on his outside. Major Success edged away at the top of the stretch and pulled away from the rest before being overtaken by Surf Cat.
Owned by Aase Headley and Marsha Naify and trained by Bruce Headley, Surf Cat was bred in Kentucky by Gainesway Farm and William Taylor Nicholls. The $25,000 Fasig-Tipton buy in 2003 won the Swaps Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Hollywood Park last July. He earned $90,000 for his fifth win in nine starts and has banked $412,420 in his career.
"We had him ready, but I was scared of (Bobby) Frankel's horse (Major Success) to be truthful with you," Bruce Headley said. "But (Surf Cat) ran really big. We'll see how he pulls up and see what's next. Santa Anita is my favorite place."
Surf Cat paid $5.40, $3.20, and $2.80, topping a $15.20 exacta with Major Success, who returned $3 and $3 as the 2-1 second choice. Oceanus, ridden by Omar Berrio, was $7.40 to show at odds of 37-1.
Then came Jet West, Ulistnintome, Imperialism, Congrats, and Brand Name.
Multiple graded stakes winner Imperialism, undefeated in three previous starts at seven furlongs, turned in a disappointing effort. Saddled with the rail post, the 5-year-old gray horse rallied alongside of Surf Cat on the turn but could not match strides with the winner through the stretch.