Front-running Sailors Sunset, headed in the stretch by odds-on choice Peace Chant, refused to give way along the inside, coming back for a half-length victory in the $105,800 Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) Saturday on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track.
Sailors Sunset, a 4-year-old Petionville gelding, recorded his first graded stakes win over the Hollywood all-weather track last December in the Vernon Underwood (gr. III), his first try over the surface, in gate-to-wire fashion by nearly two lengths.
The Everest Stable homebred was ridden to victory Saturday by Jon Court for trainer Marcelo Polanco in a time of 1:09 for the six-furlong distance.
The lone speed in a field of five reduced by the scratch of Corazondelcampeon, Sailors Sunset gained a 1 1/2-length advantage after clicking off the opening quarter-mile in :21 4/5 and the half in :44 1/5, with Peace Chant tracking comfortably second and Northern Soldier glued to his flanks in third. They ran just like that into the stretch when Peace Chant, ridden by Victor Espinoza, edged his way to the front by a head midway through the lane while Northern Soldier dropped back a bit.
However, Sailors Sunset responded to strong urging and fought his way back. He led by a length as they approached the wire and prevailed gamely in the final strides over Peace Chant, who gave a big effort in defeat. Northern Soldier, held third for Clinton Potts, one length behind the runner-up.
Sailors Sunset was coming off a fading third-place finish -- beaten by six lengths by standout sprinter Smokey Stover -- in the 6 1/2-furlong Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) on April 7. He had lost three in a row since his Underwood win, and the return to six panels and the Cushion Track seemed to be just what he needed.
The gray gelding has won five of eight tries at the distance and now sports a 3-1-1 record in five starts at Hollywood Park. Overall, Sailors Sunset has six wins in 17 lifetime outings. He earned $63,480 to boost his bankroll to $308,090.
Sent off as the third choice, Sailors Sunset paid $10.40, $3.40, and $3, topping a $24 exacta with Peace Chant ($2.60, $2.10), who was coming off back-to-back victories at Santa Anita for trainer Richard Mandella. Northern Soldier was $3 to show.
Turnbolt and Ramsgate, both outrun early, brought up the rear in the compact field.