The Dan Hendricks-trained Daytona lost his last start by just one length — snapping a four-race winning streak in graded stakes races — so it was especially gratifying for Hendricks to watch the Indian Ridge gelding come back in fine form in the $150,000 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT)(VIDEO) at Santa Anita April 5.
“They were right on his heels; he didn’t have it easy," said the trainer. "He set fast fractions, ran a great final time, and backed up to a mile with no problem at all. He solidified his position, I think, as one of the top grass horses in the country.”
The one-mile Arcadia marked Daytona's first attempt at the distance, and he held on by just a neck to take the turf event, his fifth graded win in the past two years.
Second at the start under Alex Solis, 4-year-old Daytona went to an early lead and held off pressure from Hyperbaric through a quarter in :22.78. Moving a half in :46.30, he was challenged by Artiste Royal, who kept up his position in second through three-quarters in 1:09.33.
They hit the head of the stretch with Daytona holding a 1 ½-length lead over the other five runners. But Hyperbaric, who had dropped back to third, made another run and lost the race by the narrow margin. It was 1 ½ lengths back to Golden Balls, who ranged up from sixth to make a three-wide bid into the lane. The final time was 1:21.09.
"He’s a very special horse," Solis said. "He broke really sharp. He likes to run in front. He relaxed right away and was patient. When it was time to go, I asked him, and he did his thing. He has a high cruising speed, and that’s what makes him so special. The other horses have to chase him the whole way, and he was just galloping.”
Daytona paid $3.60, $2.80, and $2.10, Hyperbaric paid $4.80 and $3.20 under Tyler Baze, and Golden Balls brought $2.80 with Brice Blanc. Artiste Royal, Crested, and No Dream completed the order of finish. Storm Military scratched.
Owned by David Bienstock and Charles Winner and partners and bred in Ireland by the Irish National Stud out of the Blushing John mare Kyka, Daytona has a 7-2-3 record from 14 starts. The winner's share of $90,000 boosted his career earnings to $781,390.