Favored Den's Legacy gave trainer Bob Baffert a rare graded win for males on turf when he rallied in the stretch to capture the $100,000 Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 2-year-olds Nov. 24 at Betfair Hollywood Park (VIDEO).
Garrett Gomez patiently guided the Medaglia d'Oro colt to a first stakes victory for Westrock Stables, edging the charging Rising Legend by half a length. The winning time was 1:36.32 for one mile over firm turf.
Hall of Fame trainer Baffert collected his first graded stakes win for a male in a graded stakes on turf since Senor Swinger won the Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park Sept. 18, 2004.
Den's Legacy, the 6-5 choice, was the most accomplished runner in the field of 10 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in stakes events on turf at Santa Anita Park this fall.
Dancin Upside Down was quick to the lead and opened up by a couple of lengths early, leading Christopher Streetand Counting Days with Den's Legacy tucked along the inside in fourth. Dancin Upside Down posted fractions of :23.68, :47.88, and 1:12.41.
Den's Legacy, waiting for room along the fence leaving the turn, advanced rapidly when clear to seize the advantage and grabbed a solid advantage mid-stretch. He had to dig in late under urging from Gomez, however, as Rising Legend, a British import making his first United States appearance for trainer John Sadler, rallied sharply from well back under Julien Leparoux.
Gomez said he was confident Den's Legacy would respond when an opportunity presented itself.
"When the hole opened up, I told him, 'Let's go.' I just didn't want to go from zero to 100 as fast as I could," Gomez said. "I kind of pushed the gas pedal down and he kicked on. I didn't want to get into him any more than needed. I didn't think (Rising Legend) could get to me."
Though he lost, Leparoux said Rising Legend has a big future.
"He was shuffled back, but that's how a lot of them run first time in this country," he said. "When I asked him to run, he made a big run, just a little too late. He galloped out strongly and I think the more distance, the better."
Shining Copper, ridden by David Flores, settled for third after being difficult to load in the gate, 1 1/4 lengths behind Rising Legend.
Bred in Florida by Gaye Swartz, Den's Legacy is out of the unraced War Chant mare Sunshine Song and cost $150,000 as a weanling at the Keeneland November sale in 2010.
Den's Legacy debuted at Hollywood July 1 and graduated in his third start against maiden special weight company on Polytrack at Del Mar Aug. 26. Baffert threw the bay colt into the deep end for his next start at Santa Anita in the Frontrunner Stakes (gr. I), formerly the Norfolk, resulting in a fifth-place finish.
Switched to the turf for his next outing, Den's Legacy turned in a strong second to Gervinho after leading briefly in the stretch in the one-mile Zuma Beach Stakes Oct. 8. Den's Legacy cut back to the hillside at about 6 1/2 furlongs Nov. 3 and was second again in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint Preview Nov. 3.
"I thought he was impressive," said Mike Marlow, deputizing for Baffert. "When he turned for home and a hole opened up, he was right there quick. He (Gomez) just asked him and he gave him a quick burst. I would guess Bob will keep him on grass. That's his best, I think. I think today was his most impressive race."
Improving his career record to two wins and three seconds in seven overall starts with earnings of $161,350, Den's Legacy paid $4.60, $3, and $2.40. Second choice Rising Legend, a two-time winner in England for previous trainer Richard Hannon, returned $4.40 and $3.40 while filling out a $19.60 exacta. Shining Copper, from the Neil Drysdale Farm, paid $4.40.