Proudinsky, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, wins the San Gabriel on Dec. 28 at Santa Anita. <br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Proudinsky, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, wins the San Gabriel on Dec. 28 at Santa Anita.
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Proudinsky Gives Frankel Milestone Win

The 5-year-old German-bred horse proves a steady winner of San Gabriel Handicap.

Favored Proudinsky, ridden with patience by substitute rider Rafael Bejarano, took command near the eighth pole and held off the outsider Ferneley by three-quarters of a length to win the $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) at Santa Anita Park Dec. 28.

The German-bred Proudinsky handed trainer Bobby Frankel his record 900th career win at Santa Anita, five of them coming in the San Gabriel.

"He did his job. He’s a nice, honest horse, not a top class horse, but a nice group II horse," Frankel said. "We’ll see what’s next, play it by ear. It’s nice that I’ve won that many races here, but I didn’t realize it."

Bejarano, replacing the injured Garrett Gomez, who was off all of his mounts following a spill Dec. 27, had Proudinsky well placed on the inside, just behind the front-runner, stablemate Porfido, who carved a pedestrian pace in the 1 1/8-mile San Gabriel. When Porfido began to tire in upper stretch, Bejarano, who was in a bit of a box earlier with the Irish-bred Ferneley and jockey Victor Espinoza on his outside, angled Proudinsky out slightly to get room.

Once clear, Proudinsky gained a short advantage on Ferneley and outfought his rival to the wire while under some urging. Medici Code, who also angled clear in the lane for Martin Pedroza and had aim on the leaders from the outside with a furlong to run, settled for third, another length farther back. The winning time was 1:48.39 on firm going.

“He ran real strong today," said Bejarano, who was aboard Proudinsky when he ran second in last year's San Gabriel. "We were behind all the speed, and we were going really slow, so he was dragging me along. We needed room at the top of the stretch and (Silent Soul) was trying to keep me in, but we got through. He gave me a big kick in the stretch and we needed it because (runner-up Ferneley) ran a big race.”

Chilean-bred Porfido, making his first start since July 13, posted fractions of :23.86, :48.57, and 1:12.65 before fading out of contention.

Obrigado, second-place finisher in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT) and expected to be a major contender here, was one of two horses scratched from the San Gabriel.

Proudinsky, the co-high weight at 117 pounds, came into the race as the only starter in the field with a prior graded stakes win this year, that coming in the Mervyn Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds March 8. The 5-year-old son of Silvano had lost six races in a row since then and was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Citation Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park Nov. 28. Proudinsky did have an excuse that day when his jockey, Jose Valdivia Jr., lost his whip in the stretch.

The bay horse was previously owned by Gary Tanaka, who was recently convicted of three counts of securities fraud while he headed Amerindo Investment Advisors. Proudinsky ran for Johanna Louise Glen-Teven of Manhattan Beach in the San Gabriel. Proudinsky, whose winner's share of the San Gabriel purse was $90,000, has a lifetime record of 5-4-1 in 17 starts with earnings of $790,377.

Proudinsky, who is out of the Dashing Blade mare Proudeyes, paid $4.60, $3.20, and $2.80 and topped a $2 exacta worth $31.60. The stalking Ferneley, who briefly led past the eighth pole, returned $7.80 and $5.80 as the second-longest shot on the board. The British-bred Medici Code, a grade II winner, was $3.80 to show.

It was three-quarters of a length farther back to second choice Becrux in fourth. He was followed by Porfido, Swift Winds, and Silent Soul. Sartorial was also scratched.