The race was marred by the fatal breakdown of the popular 6-year-old Hendrix, who suffered a fractured left fore shin bone at the top of the stretch and was euthanized. His jockey Corey Nakatani was reportedly not injured although he took off his lone remaining mount of the afternoon.
Todd Pletcher trains Icy Atlantic, who has turned around his fortunes this season after a 2006 campaign in which the 6-year-old Stormy Atlantic horse won once in 10 starts. The Florida-bred Icy Atlantic ran second to Lava Man in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita Jan. 27, then followed that with a two-length win in a classified allowance heat at the same nine-furlong distance March 3.
“I’ll tell you what. California has suited this horse well. The cutback in distance was a bit of a concern, but the turn of foot he showed in his last race was kind of a new dimension, and I’m glad to see he repeated that effort today," said Michael McCarthy, assistant to Pletcher.
McCarthy said Icy Atlantic and all 17 Pletcher horses at Hollywood Park would ship to Kentucky on April 10.
Unhurried while racing off a tepid pace of :23 3/5, :48 and 1:11 3/5 set by Willow O Wisp, who went straight to the front from his far outside post in the field of nine, Icy Atlantic nevertheless found another gear after steadying at the spot of the breakdown and mowed down his rivals to get up just in time over El Roblar, who liked like a winner in deep stretch for Richard Migliore. The final time was 1:35. Willow O Wisp held on for third with David Cohen aboard.
“I didn’t expect to be as far off the pace as we were," said Dominguez, who made a rare Southern California appearance. "My horse was comfortable running where he was. I kept him together and he finished very strong for me.”
"Tactically, I had a great trip," Migliore said of El Roblar. "Everything went the way I thought it would, and the horse ran lights out. He just got beat, no excuses.”
Milk It Mick, the 3-1 favorite, was in a stalking position on the outside into the stretch but wilted in the final furlong and finished seventh.
Icy Atlantic improved his record to 6-9-2 in 32 lifetime starts while increasing his earnings to $727,630.
Arthur E. Appleton bred the winner, who is out of Frosty Promise, by Frosty the Snowman.
Sent off as the fourth choice, Icy Atlantic paid $12, $6.20 and $4.80. El Roblar, switching back to the turf for trainer Richard Mandella after running seventh in last month's Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), returned $8.40 and $6.20, capping a $100.40 exacta. Willow O Wisp, a four-time graded stakes winner for Vladimir Cerin, was $5.60 to show in his first start since May 29.
"He’s got a ton of heart. He had a hard trip, going wire to wire on the first time out in a long time," said Cohen.
Crested finished fourth, followed by Hello Sunday, Porto Santo, Milk It Mick and Majestic Stream. Macduff scratched.
Hendrix, who was making up ground when he suffered the fatal injury. The son of Sultry Song won five of 26 starts with earnings of $389,150 for owner J. Paul Reddam. Craig Dollase trained him.
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