Owned by Prestonwood Racing and trained by Julio Canani, the 5-year-old Hyperbaric shook loose from the field in the stretch and held off Formal Decree by three-quarters of a length for his first grade I victory. Hyperbaric, who returned from a 14-month absence in February after suffering a jammed knee, won his fourth consecutive start.
The final time was 1:41.29 for the 1 1/16-mile grass test contested over firm going.
Breaking from the inside in the field of nine, Hyperbaric went directly to the front. Formal Decree and Jean-Luc Samyn angled over from his far outside post to track in second. Hyperbaric slowed the pace to a crawl while pounding out even fractions of :24.08 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.56 for the half, and 1:12.62 for six furlongs. The order remained unchanged as the pace picked up in the stretch with Formal Decree chasing the leader all the way and Proudinsky in third.
In the homestretch, Becrux rallied between horses for third by a head over Proudinsky, one length behind Formal Decree. Whatsthescript, the even-money favorite after his recent third-place finish in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), finished sixth after faltering in the drive.
Baze rode Hyperbaric once before, blaming himself for a second-place finish by a neck to Daytona in the Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) April 5.
"I probably should have won on him," said Baze, who completed his fifth grade I win of the year in the Citation. "Today they gave me another chance to ride him and he gave me 100 percent. When I called on him at the three-eighths pole he jumped into the bridle and was ready to roll. I figured since (Formal Decree) had the outside, I'd be able to slow them down a little bit. After we got that first half he was in cruise control the rest of the way."
Hyperbaric was coming off a neck victory in the Oak Tree Mile (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Sept. 28. That victory gave the Sky Classic gelding a guaranteed spot in the Breeders' Cup Mile, but his connections felt the race came up a little too quickly.
Canani said that he was looking for a spot for Hyperbaric that didn't have much speed in the line-up.
"That's why i passed the Breeders' Cup," he said. "He was invited to Hong Kong to run Dec. 15th, but I preferred to run him here. My horse came into the race fresh, so I felt he had a pretty good chance."
Canani, who won the Citation previously with Colway Rally in 1990, said he would point to the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) in Dubai this spring for Hyperbaric.
After claiming his third stakes win of the year, Hyperbaric now has four victories, two seconds, and two thirds in eight starts in 2008. Overall, the bay owns a 7-2-2 mark in 12 starts with earnings of $654,476. W.J. Chamblin bred Hyperbaric, who is out of Teasing Charm, by Skywalker, in Kentucky
Sent off as the third choice, Hyperbaric paid $13, $6.20, and $4 while topping a $61 exacta with Godolphin's Formal Decree ($6.80, $4), who was coming off a three-length victory in Belmont Park's Knickerbocker Handicap (gr. IIIT) Oct. 25.
"I thought at the sixteenth pole maybe we could get there, but the winner ran a heck of a race," said Samyn, on the runner-up.
Becrux, supplemented to the Citation by trainer John Sadler for $8,000, was $9 to show.
Proudinsky finished fourth by a nose over Medici Code. Whatsthescript, Ferneley, Lord Admiral, and Rebellion followed. Galantas scratched.