Waterford Stable’s In Summation stalked a three-horse speed duel in a five-horse field and blew by late to win the Jan. 1 El Conejo Handicap (gr. III) in track-record time for 5 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita Park.
With Corey Nakatani riding for trainer Christophe Clement, In Summation sat just behind Barber, Idiot Proof, and Barbecue Eddie — from the rail out, respectively — through rapid fractions of :21.01 for the opening quarter-mile and :43.25 for a half-mile. Nakatani moved In Summation four-wide on the far turn, and the 5-year-old Florida-bred pulled away in the lane to win by one length over Barbecue Eddie.
In Summation, who won for the ninth time in 20 career starts, stopped the timer in 1:01.27, easily a track record for the distance on Santa Anita’s Cushion Track. (The previous standard was 1:02.31, set by Smokin Forest in October.) Barbecue Eddie held well for second, with Idiot Proof, who finished second in the 2007 TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), another 2 1/4 lengths back in third.
Nakatani said In Summation, by Put It Back out of the Dayjur mare Fiesta Baby, had an excuse in his last race, the grade III Vernon O. Underwood Stakes, which was also run on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park. In Summation was steadied at the wire in that race, won by Bushwacker, who was a late scratch from the El Conejo.
“The race set up the way I thought it would," Nakatani said. "I thought the inside horse would go, and so would (jockey Aaron) Gryder’s horse (Barbecue Eddie). We were in the perfect spot, and they had to commit to go. I thought he should have won last time (in the Vernon Underwood). He was intimidated by the winner, and I thought he should have come down. He improved today off that race."
Said Nicholas Blanchard, assistant to Clement: "The race went very well for us today. We got the pace we hoped for and it worked out very good for us. I think the horse will stay here for one more race (the grade II Palos Verdes Handicap at six furlongs Jan. 21). This gets our year off on a winning note.”
The early duel in the El Conejo took its toll on Idiot Proof, the 3-5 favorite who was making his first start since the Breeders’ Cup. Idiot Proof sported a series of sharp works at Santa Anita in December, but the fractions took their toll.
Nakatani noted the Cushion Track surface is very fast, and horses that like it “bounce over it.” He also said the surface is safe, and horses are coming out of their races in good order.
In Summation is now three-for-four on synthetic surfaces. He won the Bing Crosby Handicap (gr. I) on Polytrack at Del Mar in July 2007, and won the Arlington Sprint Handicap on Polytrack at Arlington Park the following month. He then finished second in the Vernon O. Underwood in early December.
In Summation paid $8.20 to win as the second choice. He topped a $2 exacta worth $32.80, and a $2 trifecta that paid $59.80 trifecta for the three favorites in the race.