Margaret Burlingham's locally based Saint Leon was fastest away from the gate in the $100,000 Arlington Sprint and was able to maintain that advantage to hold off the furious rally of 2010 champion Chamberlain Bridge to secure a half-length victory in the 5 1/2-furlong grass test on Saturday.
E. T. Baird rode the Michele Boyce-trained son of Stravinsky who got the distance over firm ground in 1:03 after posting fractions of :22 1/5, :45 3/5 and :57 1/5. Saint Leon paid $9, $4.40 and $2.80 at 7-2 odds.
"Well you know somebody is going to be charging late," said Baird when asked if he knew it was Chamberlain Bridge coming on late. "I wasn't bothering to look back (to see who it was) because you only go forward. He's a real nice horse and he has a lot of class. He's got a real good personality. He loves what he's doing."
The one-time $5,000 claimer beat a field that included the last two winners of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint -- Regally Ready last year and Chamberlain Bridge in 2010. The latter probably cost himself the victory at the start when breaking in the air and spotting the field some nine lengths.
"Today he broke straight up in the air," said Miguel Mena, who was riding Chamberlain Bridge for the first time Saturday. "He acted fine and he loaded fine in the gate, but he got himself beat right at the break."
It was another six lengths back to the 10-1 longshot Longhunter, who was followed by Regally Ready and Birdie Beats Par to complete the order of finish. Mambo Galliano was scratched.
Regally Ready, who was making his first start since returning from an unsuccessful trip to Dubai where he finished 14th in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in March, finished fourth as the 4-5 favorite in the field of five.
"The turf was nice and firm, he seemed like he liked it," said Regally Ready's rider, Corey Nakatani. "He just got back to the races and he's kind of a slow starter. I know that (this race) will wake him up and he'll move forward. I'm sure Steve (trainer Asmussen) has a plan mapped out for him."
The seven-year-old Saint Leon was making his stakes debut in the Arlington Sprint, and the $60,000 winner's share of the purse boosted his career earnings to $219,599 while improving his record to 12-4-3 wins from 27 starts.