Charlie's Moment shook off Backbackbackgone early and was never headed in winning the $100,000 Lazaro Barrera Memorial (gr. III) (VIDEO) for his first graded stakes tally May 24 at Hollywood Park.
Under a strong hand ride from Alex Solis, Charlie's Moment was in complete control in the homestretch, defeating the closing Bet On Victor by two lengths. Canonize, the 9-10 choice in the field of eight, faded to third.
Immediately after the race, Solis' thoughts were with fellow Panamanian rider Rene Douglas, who was seriously injured in a fall at Arlington Park a day earlier.
Blinking back tears, Solis told TVG, "I hope the whole racing industry says a little prayer for Rene Douglas."
The Barrera, a seven-furlong event for 3-year-olds, changed complexion when Zensational and Triumphant Flight, expected to be part of contentious pace scenario were both scratched. That left Backbackbackgone as the likely front-runner. But Charlie's Moment, directly on the inside of Backbackbackgone, went after the early leader and took over through quick fractions of :22.56 for the opening quarter mile and :45.10 for the half.
Backbackbackgone began to shorten stride after that, leaving Charlie's Moment in command as the field hit the stretch. The stalking Position A, on the outside, and Canonize, who had a dream trip along the inside for Jose Valdivia Jr., took up the chase.
Canonize pulled to within about 1 1/2 lengths approaching mid-stretch but fell back to third in the final furlong. Bet On Victor and jockey Garrett Gomez ran on for second while posing no threat to the winner. Bet On Victor was 1 1/4 lengths in front of Canonize. Position A finished another three-quarters of a length behind in fourth.
Charlie's Moment, who won for the first time in four starts at Hollywood, was coming off a fourth-place finish for Solis in the one-mile La Puente Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita April 11.
Trained by Walther Solis (no relation to the jockey) for owners Robert Gramer, David Pycz, Michael Nicolarsen and Walt and Jerry Solis, the gelded son of Indian Charlie won for the first time since taking the King Glorious Handicap at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 28. Charlie's Moment had one prior graded stakes placing, when he was moved up to third after a disqualification in Del Mar's Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) last summer.
“I think people will start respecting this horse more after today’s race," Alex Solis said. "Coming into this race he’s been working incredible. I told Walther last time he ran that I guarantee we’ll win a big race with him soon. He broke real sharp and got into good position. He was in a high cruising speed the whole race and put them away in the stretch.”
The final time was a smart 1:21.89 over Hollywood's Cushion Track.
"I was hoping (Backbackbackgone) would go to the lead," the trainer said. "I guess he was eager to run today. He just took off and took the lead. Alex has been working this horse the last couple times and got to know him better than the first time he rode him in the La Puente. Our plan is to go two turns.”
Solis said the 1 1/16-mile Affirmed Stakes (gr. III) on June 20 could be next for Charlie’s Moment.
A $17,000 Keeneland yearling sale in September 2007, Charlie's Moment increased his career earnings to $231,760 with his fourth win in 12 lifetime starts. Out of the Bold Revenue mare Moment of Light, the dark bay was bred in Florida by McKathan Brothers.
Sent off as the fourth choice, Charlie's Moment paid $15, $6.60 and $3.40. Bet On Victor, who was supplemented to the Barrera for $2,000 by trainer Vladimir Cerin, returned $5.60 and $2.60 and was part of a $2 exacta worth $73. Canonize, an impressive winner in both of his prior starts for trainer Ron Ellis, was worth $2.10 to show.
Position A was followed by Quindici Man, Carbonite, Backbackbackgone and All Saint.