Fourty Niners Son strikes it rich at Oak Tree.

Fourty Niners Son strikes it rich at Oak Tree.


Fourty Niners Son Hits Pay Dirt in Hirsch Turf

Favored Fourty Niners Son, who has pounced on the American grass handicap division with passion this summer, scored his first graded stakes victory in Sunday's $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship (gr. IT) at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

Corey Nakatani guided Fourty Niners Son to a ground-saving one-length victory over Whilly, who was disqualified for interference with Sweet Return in the final yards and placed fifth.

Fourty Niners Son was behind a wall of horses turning for home, but angled outward midway through the stretch, bidding four wide and finishing with a rush, to pull clear approaching the wire.

"We were fortunate, and it parted like the Red Sea," Nakatani said of the opening. "It was a real good effort on his part. He beat a lot of decent horses that were running big races. He's only going to keep getting better and better."

Fourty Niners Son was clocked in 2:01 for 1 1/4 miles on a firm course, capturing the race under equal weights of 124 pounds. The 4-year-old colt by Distorted Humor  returned $4.80, $3.40, and $2.40 as the 7-5 favorite.

Leprechaun Kid, ridden by David Flores substituting for the suspended Tyler Baze, was moved to second, and paid $11.40 and $5.60. Laura's Lucky Boy, Gary Stevens aboard, was advanced to third and paid $3.60 to show.

Trained by Neil Drysdale, Fourty Niners Son has become a force this summer and finally has a victory to show for it. He might have been best in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) on a yielding course in his previous race but was forced to alter course late and finished third while nosed for second by Kitten's Joy. Prior to that, he closed willingly to be second to Sweet Return in the Eddie Read (gr. IT) at Del Mar and finished third, beaten a half-length by Whilly in the American Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park. He has now won won five times in 13 tries and $498,445 for owner Tom Baxter, a Nebraska cattleman.

"He was very professional," Drysdale said. "He had a bit of trouble in the Arlington Million. We gave him a break after that. He had a lot of successive races in a row so, after the Arlington Million, we gave him a breather. I'll discuss it with the owner before any decision is made (on the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf)."

Doug O'Neill was thrilled with Whilly's late-running effort in spite of his disqualification for drifting in late under Felipe Martinez. He said he would skip the Breeders' Cup in favor of the $1.8 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) next month.

"He showed a new dimension today by taking back a little bit and tracking," he said. "He's such a nice horse. I feel so bad for the owners (Triple B Farms). They got robbed but that's part of racing; like in a baseball game, you get a questionable call, and I think we got a questionable call there. We'll play again in about four weeks and try to win this thing."

Sweet Return, tiring after prompting the pace set by Leprechaun Kid (:25, :49 3/5, 1:14 2/5 and 1:37 4/5) was placed fourth, followed by Whilly, Exterior, Runaway Dancer, and Continental Red.

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