Old pro Clubhouse Ride slipped through along the inside and outfought odds-on favorite Fury Kapcori in the final furlong to register a gutty repeat win in the $200,000 Californian Stakes (gr. II) May 31 at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO).
There was some bumping through the drive between Clubhouse Ride, with Joe Talamo aboard, and Fury Kapcori, ridden by Corey Nakatani, but stewards did not conduct an inquiry as Clubhouse Ride scored a 6-1 upset by half a length.
The feisty 6-year-old son of Candy Ride became the fourth two-time winner of the Californian, a longtime stakes staple at Hollywood Park conducted for the first time at Santa Anita. The race is the last major stakes prep locally for the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (gr. I) June 28. Clubhouse Ride joined some select company; the previous two-time Californian winners were legends Cougar II, Quack, and Ancient Title.
Clubhouse Ride rebounded from a fourth-place finish in the Charles Town Classic (gr. II) in West Virginia April 19. The victory snapped an eight-race losing streak since he took last year's Californian by 2 1/4 lengths.
The final time for the 1 1/8-mile journey was 1:48.74 on a fast track.
Fury Kapcori was made the 1-2 favorite in the field of seven older horses off a four-race winning streak that included a 5 3/4-length romp in the Precisionist Stakes (gr. III) in his most recent start May 3.
Breaking from the rail, Clubhouse Ride dropped out to trail the leaders by nearly 10 lengths as Fury Kapcori grabbed the lead from the start to outpace Storm Fighter into the clubhouse turn. Fury Kapcori settled in at a rapid clip, opening about a one-length advantage over Storm Fighter while reeling off fractions of :22.47, :45.97, and 1:10.02. Storm Fighter was under pressure to keep up leaving the far turn as Clubhouse Ride advanced along the inside and Majestic Harbor also ranged into contention while stalking from the outside.
But as they made their way through the stretch, the race came down to Fury Kapcori and Clubhouse Ride, who got a slight advantage at midstretch at the rail under left-handed urging from Talamo and gamely prevailed over a stubborn Fury Kapcori in a rough stretch battle.
"We were a little further back than I thought we would be, but we were in a comfortable spot," Talamo said. "He seemed to pick it up a little every eighth of a mile and when I saw Corey (Nakatani) drift out a little into Storm Fighter, I dove in there and he fought 'em off the rest of the way. He ran really nice."
It was 2 1/4 lengths back to Majestic Harbor, ridden by Tyler Baze, with Majestic City fourth. Then came Storm Fighter, Handsome Mike, and Fly Lexis Fly.
Clubhouse Ride, campaigned by Six-S Racing and Nikolas Petralia, improved his career mark to 5-8-10 in 37 races with earnings of $1,220,132. The chestnut horse was bred in Kentucky by Sidney and Jenny Craig out of the Seeking the Gold mare Seeking Results.
"This horse is as tough as they come; he's an alley fighter," said winning trainer Craig Lewis. "He comes to run. His bankroll indicates it."
Lewis said the Gold Cup was "a strong likelihood" for Clubhouse Ride's next start.
Clubhouse Ride spotted each of his rival two pounds while shouldering 121 and paid $15, $4.40, and $3 as the distant second choice. Fury Kapcori paid $2.40 and $2.10, losing for the first time in five starts this year for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The exacta was worth $24.40. Majestic Harbor, three-length winner of the 1 1/2-mile Tokyo City Stakes (gr. III) last time out, paid $3 to show.
Sky Kingdom scratched.