On a big day for Frank Stronach, his 3-year-old homebred colt Rookie Sensation made things a little bigger by splitting horses in the stretch to post a surging victory in the $152,000 Twilight Derby (gr. IIT) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO).
The one-length score marked the first stakes win for Rookie Sensation, who entered off a one-length victory in an allowance/optional claiming race Aug. 31 on the Santa Anita turf. The son of Unbridled’s Song successfully returned to that surface Friday, completing the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:46.64.
The race was the final of five contested before the start of Friday’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships races at the Arcadia, Calif., track owned by The Stronach Group.
With Victor Espinoza on board, Rookie Sensation settled in ninth early, while Dry Summer led the way through a half-mile in :47.76 and six furlongs in 1:11.28. In a final furlong that was completed in :11.75, Rookie Sensation rallied from fourth, three lengths back.
"I just wanted to let my horse do his thing in the beginning, and from the last three-eighths of a mile, I tried to make my way in between horses," Espinoza said. "Sometimes there are different strategies in a race, but I did not have any other options because of the way the race set up. I sneaked in on the inside and everything worked out very nice today.
"Once I got my position I knew I would definitely win the race. He has been a nice horse in his last few races. He always runs unbelievable races. Each race he is getting better and better."
Trained by John Shirreffs, Rookie Sensation has won three of his first five starts and has earned $183,050.
Rookie Sensation returned $18.20 to win, $7.80 to place, and $6 to show. Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) winner Gabriel Charles, the 5-2 favorite in the field of 13, closed well to finish second, returning $4.60 and $3.20. Keith Brackpool’s Gervinho, who tracked the leaders throughout, held third, returning $4 to show.
Bred in Kentucky at Stronach’s Adena Springs, Rookie Sensation is the third stakes winner out of the stakes-winning Stately Don mare Marchesa. He is a half brother to grade III winner Mark One, Japanese group II winner Daiwa Carson, and stakes-placed Golden Corona and Benz Boy.