Proud Tower Too and David Cohen win the Sensational Star Handicap, Sunday at Santa Anita.

Proud Tower Too and David Cohen win the Sensational Star Handicap, Sunday at Santa Anita.


Resilient Proud Tower Too Shows Star Power

(from Santa Anita report)
Grade I winner Proud Tower Too once again displayed his tenacity by successfully repelling favored Thor's Echo in Sunday's $138,750 Sensational Star Handicap at Santa Anita Park, emerging with a one-length victory in what evolved as a two-horse race.

Two days of intermittent rain turned the Sensational Star, restricted to California-bred horses, off the hillside turf course and resulted in five of the 12 scheduled entrants being declared, which was to the advantage of both the favorites.

Proud Tower Too defeated Thor's Echo in the Malibu (gr. I) on opening day of the current Santa Anita meeting. But the public expected Thor's Echo, third in the Malibu while 4 ¾ lengths behind Proud Power Too, to turn the tables, betting him down to 7-5 favoritism. But, as the race unfolded, the 2-1 second choice led Thor's Echo on a merry chase with none of the other five runners ever reaching contention.

Regular rider David Cohen rushed Proud Tower Too to the lead, and they sped through fractions of :21.41, :43.98 and 1:08.82 before completing the distance in 1:15.55.

The connections – trainer Sal Gonzalez and owner/breeder Tricar Stables Inc. – plan to race him next in the $2 million Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) at six furlongs on March 25 in Dubai.

"I'm going to Dubai to ride him," Cohen said. "He's just got so much speed, and you can see he's got a ton of heart, too."

Corey Nakatani, atop Thor's Echo, never could get closer than a length of the leader, which is how they finished. Red Warrior, with Garrett Gomez aboard, made up some ground to finish third, three lengths behind the runner-up.

Proud Tower Too, who carried high weight of 120 pounds, paid $6.60, $3.20, and $2.20. Thor's Echo, with 118, returned $2.80 and $2.10 with the show price on Red Warrior being $2.20.

"I knew Nakatani's horse (Thor's Echo) was sitting just off me from the gate," Cohen said following the race. "I could hear Nakatani getting after his horse going to the three-eighths pole, but my horse was running easy. Once he switched leads, I knew, if Thor's Echo didn't beat me, nobody could."

Proud Tower Too had provided the 21-year-old Cohen with his first grade I win in the seven-furlong Malibu after taking Hollywood Park's ungraded On Trust Handicap at 7 ½ furlongs Dec. 4. But following those two one-turn victories, the 4-year-old colt faded badly in the Jan. 28 Sunshine Millions Classic over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita.

"Maybe one mile is his limit," observed Jose Ruiz, assistant to Gonzalez, who was at Sunland Park in New Mexico.

The Sensational Star added $83,250 to the coffers of the Proud Irish offspring, whose earnings reached $432,264 from an overall record of 6-3-1 in 18 races.

After winning with each of his four mounts on Saturday, Alex Solis extended his streak to five when he rode Siren Lure to a 1 ½-length victory over Railroad in Sunday's second feature, the $85,140 Daytona Handicap. Like the Sensational Star, the race was taken off the hillside turf and moved to the main track with the field reduced to five starters following late scratches.

Solis rallied him wide around the final turn to reach the finish line in 1:16.20. The 17-10 second choice paid $5.40, $3.20, and $2.20. Runner-up Railroad, ridden by Martin Pedroza, paid $4 and $2.20. Jungle Prince, the 6-5 choice who finished one-half length back in third with Felipe Martinez aboard, paid $2.10 to show.

The victory – in his first try on dirt – was the ninth in 16 starts for Siren Lure, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Art Sherman. He earned $50,220 for the partnership of Stuart Kesselman and Tony and Marilyn Melkonian to push his career total to $336,781.

Solis' winning streak ended later when his mount in the fifth race, Handsome Lover, finished out of the money.

(Chart, Equibase)