Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Gayego set a Hollywood Park Cushion Track track record for 6 1/2 furlongs when he won an optional claiming allowance race Nov. 30.
Ridden by Mike Smith, Gayego took the lead from Peace Chant soon after the start and went on to win by two lengths in a time of 1:13.37. That broke the mark of 1:13.79 set by Banner Lodge last Dec. 16.
The 3-year-old Gayego faced older horses for the first time in the $66,000 event. He was making his second start since running 11th in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 17. In his initial return race, the son of Gilded Time--Devils Lake finished seventh in a seven-furlong stakes after a slow start at Santa Anita Oct. 25.
Sent off as the 2-1 second choice in a field of five, Gayego ($6.80) defeated a field that included another top Southern California 3-year-old, El Gato Malo, who had not raced since winning the Lone Star Derby (gr. III) May 10. El Gato Malo was sent off as the 8-5 favorite and finished a non-threatening fourth. Talkin to Mom Roo ran second with Peace Chant third.
Gayego posted quarter-mile fractions of :22.91 and :44.19, angling to the rail on the turn and taking a one-length lead into the stretch. He proved best when challenged by Talkin to Mom Roo in the lane, inching away under urging in the final furlong.
Trained by Paulo Lobo for owner Cubanacan Stables, Gayego's victory was his fourth in nine lifetime starts. The colt raced without blinkers for the first time since running 17th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 3.
A $32,000 Keeneland yearling buy in 2006, Gayego has now banked $763,020.