Singletary made his case for a repeat in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) with an impressive come-from-behind win in the $249,000 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting Saturday.
With David Flores hand riding Singletary to the wire in the grass event, last year's NetJets Mile winner showed he's in top form for his return engagement, this time at Belmont Park Oct. 29. He was clocked in 1:34 2/5, finishing 1 1/2 lengths ahead of runner-up Designed for Luck, ridden by Victor Espinoza. Buckland Manor and Kent Desormeaux were a head behind in third.
We All Love Aleyna, the narrow 2-1 favorite over Singletary in the six-horse field, finished fourth after steadying in the stretch under Garrett Gomez.
Singletary, a 5-year-old bay horse by Sultry Song
trained by Don Chatlos Jr. for the Billy Koch's fun-loving Little Red Feather Racing partnership, used a similar route to last year's World Thoroughbred Championships. He was third in the Oak Tree Mile in 2004, then shocked most everyone at Lone Star Park with a half-length win over Antonius Pius.
"This is exactly what we wanted," Chatlos said. "I didn't expect him to get squeezed out in the first turn like that and be last, but I'm glad that it happened because that's how I wanted him to run."
The trainer noted that he's fast approaching the end of Singetary's racing career. Singletary is expected to go to stud after the Breeders' Cup.
"You're always nervous when there's just one more race to go ... If we weren't going to New York I would be so disappointed. It's a bittersweet moment, though, because this horse has made my career."
Saturday, Singletary geared up with a four-wide move coming into the stretch and glided past the field in almost effortless style. He trailed the field as Wild Buddy set a moderate pace of :23 4/5, :47 4/5 and 1:11 2/5 before angling out on the far turn. Designed for Luck seized the lead with a furlong to go but could not hold off the winner.
"All I had to do was get him relaxed, and he just flowed the last quarter of a mile," Flores said. "I was just patient, because I had the horse to do it. I waited, then at the top of the stretch I turned him loose, and he exploded.
"He's ready," Flores said of the Breeders' Cup. "Hopefully, he'll stay in good shape, that's what we'll pray for."
Singletary, whose last start was a third-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read (gr. IT) on the turf at Del Mar, picked up his first victory since the Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita April 9, his only previous win in four starts this year. Overall, he improved to 8-5-3 in 21 lifetime starts with earnings of $1,754,312.
The winner paid $6.60, $3.80, and $2.60.
The Vladimir Cerin-trained Designed for Luck, returning to action for the first time since May 31, 2004, returned $6.80 and $3.80.
"He was about 90 percent fit, so we're delighted, as long as he comes back in good shape," said Cerin, who would like to run Designed for Luck in the Citation (gr. IT at Hollywood (Nov. 26) next. "(That) was our goal, run here and then the Citation. The Breeders' Cup just seemed too close and too soon, but there's always next year. He's only 8."
Buckland Manor was $3 to show.
After We All Love Aleyna, Wild Buddy, and King of Happiness trailed.