Georgie Boy and jockey Garrett Gomez found room at the rail in the homestretch and stormed past to a convincing 2 1/4-length victory in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint (VIDEO) at Santa Anita Jan. 24.
A 4-year-old California-bred son of Tribal Rule , Georgie Boy showed with the win that he has fully recovered from a back injury that knocked the grade I winner out of training for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) last spring. Owned by his breeder, George Schwary, and trained by Kathy Walsh, the dark bay gelding won three consecutive races — the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I), the San Vicente (gr. II) and the San Felipe (gr. II) — before being injured.
Georgie Boy, after breaking alertly, fell back to the rear of the pack and benefitted from a patient ride as Machismo, chased by Dancing in Silks and In Summation , set a fast clip away from the gate. The quarter-mile fractions were :21.79 and :44.34 on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride racing surface. Georgie Boy had one beaten at that point, but he found a wide open fence coming off the bend and gained ground.
Under a tap of the whip from Gomez, Georgie Boy gained the lead from Machismo past the furlong pole and burst away from there to win impressively. The winning time was a sharp 1:08.12.
"I knew the fractions ought to help him today, and that I’d get him back, hopefully get him to take a deep breath and not worry about being up in the fight of things, and that’s what he did," said Gomez, who guided Georgie Boy to his win in the Del Mar Futurity.
“My only problem was going so short with his turn of foot," Gomez continued. "When he started building, my only option was to either go around or go inside. He’s a long-striding horse, and I really wanted to go around with him, but he wasn’t traveling exactly the way I wanted. So I said I 'gotta go inside'. And it was perfect. I think if we would have gone around, we would have had a little more trouble getting to them."
Machismo, ridden by Mike Smith, held second by 1 3/4 lengths over 26-1 shot Partywithlarryz. Dancing in Silks finished fourth, with 2-1 favorite In Summation fading to fifth under Rafael Bejarano.
“He didn’t have any excuse," Bejarano said of the grade I winner. "He broke good. After running 5 1/2 (furlongs) last time, he showed me a lot of speed today. But he was getting tired a little bit in the end.”
This was the third race on the comeback trail for Georgie Boy, who ran third in the seven-furlong Malibu (gr. I) in his most recent try Dec. 26. His career mark improved to 5-2-2 in 10 starts with earnings of $698,634. The Sunshine Millions Sprint win was worth $165,000.
“He’s a very exciting horse, and he’s very close to all of us," Walsh said. "Mr. Schwary has been very patient, and he’s being rewarded now. It’s great to have an owner who sits right there and says ‘Go for it.’
"The horse was a little rank the first part of it, but Garrett was able to get him back where he needs to be. My help back at the barn deserve a lot of credit, too. We’ve got a fantastic bunch of guys, and they do a great job.”
"This was his Super Bowl," said Schwary, who bred Georgie Boy from his Peterhof mare Ippodamia. "He really came through today."
The victory was California's second in the annual eight-race Sunshine Millions competition, which pits California-breds against Florida-breds.
Sent off as the second choice in the field of nine, Georgie Boy paid $6.60, $4.20 and $3.60. Machismo, coming off a runner-up finish in the El Conejo Handicap (gr. III) for trainer John Sadler, returned $8 and $5.20 while completing a $2 exacta worth $54.40. Partywithlarryz, also trained by Sadler, was $8.60.
Sok Sok, Yesbyjimminy, Cape Hatchet and Carnacks Choice trailed. Big Bad Leroybrown and Devoted Magic, both entered in the Palos Verdes Handicap Jan. 25, were scratched.