The 1 1/2-mile distance of the $100,000 Sunset Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) proved just right for Imponente Purse, who came from off the pace under Chantal Sutherland to win the final stakes of the Hollywood Park spring/summer meet July 17.
Acclamation, who would have been a prohibitive favorite in the Sunset, was an early scratch. He scored repeat victories at the meeting in the Jim Murray (gr. IIT) and the Charles Whittingham Memorial (gr. IT) handicaps. Acclamation is expected to run in the Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) at Del Mar July 23.
Imponente Purse enjoyed a ground-saving trip on the Hollywood turf course for Sutherland, who angled the 5-year-old Brazilian-bred gelding four paths wide in the stretch and finished up impressively to tally by 1 3/4 lengths. In registering his first graded stakes win, Imponente Purse was clocked in 2:26.65 over firm going, more than three seconds off the course mark.
"I was just watching everything that was going on and I was able to get to the outside and go from there," Sutherland said of the way the race unfolded. "This horse has amazing staying power. I started getting after him a little early to encourage him because if you let him fall asleep, he’ll fall asleep. Once he starts picking off horses he gets really confident.”
Falcon Rock, who had taken the lead from favored Celtic New Year past mid-stretch, finished second with Garrett Gomez. Celtic New Year settled for third with Victor Espinoza aboard, 3 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
Seven-year-old mare Restless Soul set a quick pace for the distance (:48.53, 1:12.57, 1:36.70) before weakening to sixth.
Second by a head in the closing-day San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. IIT) April 7, Imponente Purse had one tune-up at Hollywood for the Sunset, finishing sixth with traffic trouble in a one-mile optional claiming allowance heat July 2.
Jessica Coudelaria owns the winning bay son of Public Purse--White Tea, by Sunny's Halo, who improved his record to 4-3-3 in 19 starts with earnings of $188,627. Imponente Purse snapped a seven-race losing streak for trainer A.C. Avila with his second win in four tries on the Hollywood lawn. Ulisses Lignon Carneiro bred the winner.
“He deserves some luck,’’ said Avila of the winner. “He had bad luck in the race at Santa Anita (in the San Juan Capistrano), so we had to close the meeting with some good luck.
“He’s always like that, one pace, one pace, one pace. He came back fresh before his last race. I want to freshen him more.’’
Sent off as the second choice in the field of seven, Imponente Purse carried co-high weight of 116 pounds and paid $7.60, $4, $2.60. Falcon Rock, racing without blinkers for trainer Simon Callaghan, returned $5 and $2.80 and rounded out a $37.60 exacta. Celtic New Year, second in the Whittingham last time out for John Sadler, paid $2.20 to show.
First Settler finished fourth, followed by Victorian Prince, Restless Soul, and Ashtar.
Atticus Jack also scratched.