Keith Brackpool's Gervinho, winless since the 2013 Del Mar meet, got back in the win column with a strong off-the pace victory in the $201,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Park Dec. 26 (VIDEO).
The Sir Beaufort, for 3-year-olds at one mile on the turf, was one of three graded stakes on the opening-day program at Santa Anita.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano for trainer Carla Gaines, Gervihno rated in sixth for most of the race but was forced extremely wide leaving the far turn and dropped back to eighth for the stretch run. But he exploded late to nip Procurement by a head at the wire, with Outside Nashville a nose back in third while finishing in a dead-heat with Si Sage. Outside Nashville was disqualified for interference and placed fourth behind the French-bred Si Sage.
Horizontalyspeakin set the fractions of :23 flat, :45.19, and 1:08.70 on a course rated firm but eventually faded to eighth in a field of nine. Procurement actually got the jump on Gervinho turning for home, but the winner had clear sailing on the outside and nailed that foe late to win in 1:33.47.
Favored No Jet Lag stalked the leader for six furlongs and had no response as the field entered the stretch. He finished seventh.
"(Coming around the final turn), I was in great position, but then I saw (Outside Nashville)—he pushed (Si Sage) really bad, so (Si Sage) crossed me completely," Bejarano said of his winning trip. "I almost clipped heels. So that's why I came out; I was trying to save my path.
"After that, I had to get back and let him run again. He showed me a big kick. He was definitely the best horse in the race today."
"He took the path I wanted," Gaines said. "I just told Rafael to settle into stride and make a run at the quarter pole on the outside. He did exactly as I asked, but someone got in his way. When the other horse got in the way I thought we were done, so I was so happy to see him re-rally."
Gervinho, by Unusual Heat out of the Out of Place mare Foreverinthegame, was bred in California by Barry Abrams and Madeleine Auerbach. The Sir Beaufort was his first graded stakes victory, though he is grade II-placed.
Gervinho paid $9, $4.80, and $3.60 across the board. Procurement returned $12.80 and $8, while Si Sage paid $13.40. The $1 exacta paid $48.30 and the $1 trifecta returned $1,401.80.
Said Brackpool, an executive with Santa Anita owner The Stronach Group: "He won the 2-year old Zuma Beach race here (in 2012) and he came from off the pace there, and you never would have imagined he would have gotten there. When he ran in the (2012) Breeders' Cup Juvenile(gr. I) a few weeks later, he was right up with the pace, and I don't think it suited him to be right up there (finishing fifth)."
"He came out of the Breeders' Cup with a small injury; we took a chip out and we gave him some time. He came out in the Silky Sullivan at Golden Gate and ran a close second. Then, he came back and won the Oceanside on opening day at Del Mar, so I'm a big fan of opening days."