Facing open stakes company for the first time, front-running Compari ran his winning streak to six races by holding off Fluke by a half-length in the $150,000 Budweiser Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) on the Santa Anita turf April 3.
Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Compari went off as the slight favorite over two other horses also bet to odds of 2-1 in the field of seven, Fluke and Battle of Hastings. They ran first, second, and third in the one-mile event for older horses timed in 1:34.03 on firm going.
Marty Jones trains the California-bred 4-year-old winner for Harris Farms, Donald Valpredo, and John Nicoletti, who also co-bred the gelded son of Redattore--Southern Charm, by Dixieland Band.
“These were real, real horses today," Jones said. "Those are some of the best turfers on the grounds. They came to him, but he wouldn’t let them by. He has got a big heart, this horse. He’s a special horse and Garrett (Gomez) rode a great race. He seems to make his own luck, this horse. Hopefully, he’ll continue on.”
Compari went to the lead soon after the start but was briefly headed by Aitcho as the two vied for the lead through moderate quarter-mile fractions of :23.44, :47.44, and 1:11.28. Compari inched away in upper stretch as Battle of Hastings, racing along the inside for Tyler Baze, and Fluke, angled three-wide by Joe Talamo, picked up the chase.
Battle of Hastings, needing room between horses, got through along the inside approaching the sixteenth pole but the grade I winner Fluke had the jump on tackling Compari, who refused to yield in any event and stayed on to win gamely. Battle of Hastings was another neck behind in third.
"About the half-mile pole Mike came to me, and we were head and head and my horse could’ve cared less," Gomez said. "He’s improved so much, he’s just a cool dude now. I mean, we went the half in 47 and two and it felt like 50. He’s like a sprinter slowing ‘em down.
"Around the far turn, I knew they were backed up behind me and I knew there was somebody down inside. I could hear Trevor saying somebody was ‘crying out for room,’ but I didn’t know it was Battle of Hastings. When we turned for home, he just dropped his head and went. He’s just an awesome miler right now.”
Included in Compari's current winning streak are three stakes victories over state-breds, including a 3 1/4-length triumph in the one-mile Crystal Water Handicap on the turf in his most recent start Feb.28. Compari's only career loss in seven tries came in a third-place finish in his maiden debut at Santa Anita in February 2009. The bay earned $90,000 for the Arcadia win, which boosted his career bankroll to $422,640.
Jones said he is considering the Woodford Reserve (gr. IT) at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Churchill Downs May 1 and the Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park May 31 as possibilities for Compari's next race.
Compari paid $6, $3.40, and $2.60 while topping a $16.20 exacta. Fluke, winner of Hollywood Park's Citation Handicap (gr. IT) in November and most recently a hard-luck second to Proviso in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IT) last time, returned $3.60 and $2.40. Battle of Hastings, also a close third in the Kilroe for trainer Jeff Mullins, paid $2.40 to show.