(Edited Santa Anita report)
With 28-year-old jockey Saul Arias posting his first ever stakes victory, 22-1 longshot Conveyor’s Angel rallied strongly on the far outside to win Monday’s grade II, $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap by a head over 5-1 fourth-choice Singalong.
The win provided a large measure of vindication for the Columbian-born Arias, who crossed the wire first aboard Conveyor’s Angel in their previous start, the Jan. 24 Tuzla Handicap, only to be disqualified for stretch interference and placed seventh at odds of 48-1.
The 20th running of the one-mile Buena Vista, raced in 1:35.77 over a turf course labeled “good,” seemed to set up for a closer after 2-1 favorite Mea Domina set the early pace with 5-2 second choice Attima in close pursuit.
Attima gained a narrow lead turning into the stretch, but, by now, Conveyor’s Angel and Arias were rolling in their clear path on the outside. The pair outfinished Singalong and leading jockey Garrett Gomez. It was another length back to Attima, with Victor Espinoza aboard, in third. Mea Domina, ridden by Tyler Baze, settled for fourth, another half-length behind, while sustaining her first loss in five starts over Santa Anita’s grass layout.
The upset winner paid $46.40, $16.80 and $7.60. Singalong returned $6.40 and $4.40 while Attima paid $3.40 to show.
The victorious 5-year-old daughter of Conveyor is trained by Christopher Paasch for owner C.R. Cono of La Mesa, Calif.
“It feels great,” Arias said after dismounting. “I’m going to celebrate with my family and everybody at Mr. Paasch’s barn. I was very confident today. I knew this race was going to be a little tougher than last time, but Christopher told me this filly was really doing well. I knew I was caught a little wide there at the top of the stretch, but I felt she could win anyway. This is great.”
Said Paasch, “We thought there’d be a lot livelier pace today (than in the Tuzla), so I told Saul to be very mindful of the pace. When he started down the backside, what I wanted was to get around the group before he went into the far turn so he wasn’t strung out. He rode her perfect.”
The biggest payday of Conveyor's Angel’s career, $90,000, boosted her career earnings to $407,858 from a 5-3-2 record in 24 starts.
Meanwhile, trainer Bobby Frankel moved another notch closer to Charlie Whittingham’s Santa Anita record of 869 career training victories when his Rabitor won the third race, a maiden event, to put him within five wins of the mark.(Chart, Equibase)