Trained by Richard Mandella, El Roblar, a 5-year-old War Chant horse, picked up his first graded stakes win for owner Stonestreet Stables while carrying 117 pounds. In his previous start, the versatile dark bay finished second, a head behind Icy Atlantic, in the one-mile Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Santa Anita turf. He had not previously raced on a synthetic surface.
“This horse has a real pretty stride to him; when he’s moving he’s something to watch," Mandella noted. "He may end up preferring going around a mile on the turf, dirt or Cushion track, but he really seems to like this Cushion Track. As good as he has trained on it I might still have to think of the Gold Cup (gr. I) or Pacific Classic (gr. I) down the road, but those are just options.”
The winning time of 1:28.51 was less than a second off the track mark.
El Roblar staked the leaders on the outside in third as Tag the Comet staked a sizable early advantage while clicking off fractions of :22 and :45 before tiring. Moved up on the outside by Espinoza, El Roblar gained the lead three wide in the stretch and won under urging as Siren Lure, chasing El Roblar along the inside for Alex Solis, closed vainly in an effort to catch the winner after six furlongs were run in 1:09 3/5. Siren Lure, the 121-pound high weight, held off Publication and David Cohen for second by a neck.
"This horse is really coming around," Espinoza said. "I really like the way he won. I just let him do his own thing. When it was time to go, I let him go and he took off. He ran big today."
Sent off at 17-10, El Roblar paid $5.40, $3.40 and $3. Siren Lure, whose last win came in the Pat O'Brien (gr. II) at Del Mar in August, returned $3.60 and $3 as the second choice. Publication was $4.20 to show.
Soul City Slew, Bonfante, Porto Santo, Tag the Comet and Cusoon completed the order.
El Roblar collected $65,820 for his fifth win in 12 starts and has banked $299,946. Bred in Kentucky by Donald and Mary Zuckerman as Tenants by the Entireties, he is out of the Roanoke mare Screamer.