Chitu flies to victory in the Damascus Stakes.<br><a target="blank" href="http://photos.bloodhorse.com/AtTheRaces-1/At-the-Races-2014/i-JQ3f8zD">Order This Photo</a>

Chitu flies to victory in the Damascus Stakes.
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Anne M. Eberhardt

Chitu Makes Quick Work of Damascus Rivals

The son of Henny Hughes wins in near gate-to-wire fashion over deep field.

Tanma Corp.'s speedy Chitu  won nearly gate to wire in a $100,000 Damascus Stakes that came up deep in talent Oct. 31 at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO). The field included six graded stakes winners.

The 3-year-old son of Henny Hughes, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden Joel Rosario, was hustled quickly to the lead in the seven-furlong race, secure as the pacesetter after an opening quarter in :22.35. He took the rest of the field through a half in :44.85 and six furlongs in 1:08.94. 

Chitu hit the wire 2 1/2 lenghts ahead of Bahamian Squall , who had been stalking the leader through much of the race. Finishing third by a length was 13-1 Unbridled's Note. The final time was 1:21.66.

"Bob told me that I would have to ride him a little bit, that he's not the kind of horse that would take a hold of me," said Rosario. "We broke sharp, we were on the lead and I just tried to improve our position from there. I thought there would be a few more horses with me on the lead, but I was going to send him either way. I'm glad he broke like that, it took us all the way."

Susan Chu owns Tanma. She bought the chestnut colt at the 2013 Ocala Breeders' Sales March 2-year-olds in training sale for $300,000. Chitu, named for one of the kings of China, has now won three times in five starts and earned nearly $262,000. The colt was bred in Kentucky by Tom Evans, Macon Wilmil Equines, and Marjac Farms.

Chitu, winner of the Sunland Derby (gr. III) in March, was making his first start since finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 3.

Favorite Midnight Hawk, also trained by Baffert, was used up early in the race, having bobbled at the start and then hustled to fourth position by the opening quarter. The son of Midnight Lute , ridden by Mike Smith, began to fall behind at the half and wound up finishing second to last in the field of 12.  

Chitu paid $9.20, $5.20, and $3.80. Bahamian Squall paid $7.40 and $4.80, while Unbridled's Note paid $6. A $2 exacta paid $54.60 and a $2 trifecta paid $529.80.
 
With his fourth win in six starts, Chitu boosted his career earnings to $561,800.