Even-money choice Latent Heat made it back-to-back grade I victories for Frankel and owner/breeder Juddmonte Farms after also capturing the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on opening day of the Santa Anita stand Dec. 26. Edgar Prado came west to handle the riding chores, as he did in the Malibu.
The winning time of 1:21.11 was one second off the track mark set by Spectacular Bid of 1:20 on Jan. 5, 1980.
After breaking third, Proud Tower Too, ridden by young David Cohen, led after the opening quarter mile in :22 2/5. But racing on the outside, Proud Tower Too allowed Latent Heat to take the lead through a :44 2/5 half-mile. The two continued to battle, completing six furlongs in 1:08, and Proud Tower Too got a head advantage mid-stretch. But Latent Heat fought back to gain the lead in the final strides under much urging.
“He broke nice and clean, and I didn’t want to rush him," Prado said. "I know Proud Tower Too is very competitive and that he was going to be tough. Every time I asked my horse to pick it up a little, he gave me a little more. Both horses fought very hard and I knew, if I was going to get beat, it was going to be the bob of a head.”
"(Latent Heat) made an awesome run," Cohen conceded. "He wasn’t able to clear (Proud Tower Too). He kept his position inside, so I went ahead and took a hold and made a run at him. We changed strategy around a bit, but I’m just glad he made a run from off the lead and was still fighting. So we shoot for Dubai (Golden Shaheen on March 31), and we’re looking good.”
In spite of the way the race unfolded, no one else in the field of 10 was much of a factor. Ramsgate, a 17-1 shot ridden by David Flores and also trained by Frankel, gained late to prove best of the rest while a non-threatening third, two lengths behind the winner.
Proud Tower Too, who won Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) last March and the 2006 Malibu, carried 120 pounds, two more than Latent Heat and one less than the top-weighted Siren Lure. Siren Lure was also a grade I winner last year at the seven-furlong distance, but he struggled home seventh Saturday as the slight 7-2 second choice over Proud Tower Too.
Latent Heat, a son of Maria's Mon--True Flare (Capote) has now won four of his last five starts dating back to August at Saratoga. Overall, he owns a 6-2-1 record in 10 starts, and Saturday's winning share of $90,000 pushed his career total to $417,400.
He paid $4, $2.80, and $2.40, topping a $17.20 exacta with Proud Tower Too, who returned $4.60 and $4. Ramsgate, making a promising stakes debut for owner Saud bin Khaled, was $6 to show.
Fourth was Northern Soldier, who was followed by Raise the Bluff, Tontine Too, Siren Lure, Harvard Avenue, Swing Your Partner, and Majestic Stream. Publication scratched.
The victory was the 863rd for Frankel at Santa Anita (not including Oak Tree), leaving him six wins behind all-time leader Charlie Whittingham. Frankel was in Rio de Janeiro Saturday, leaving the saddling to assistant Humberto Ascanio.
Ascanio, said he was surprised by the way the San Carlos unfolded. “I thought there would be more speed,” he said, “and that Edgar would take a hold. But he knows the horse. I didn’t have to give him any instructions. I was worried at the head of the stretch. I thought he might be beat, but he’s got a big heart.”