(from Santa Anita report)
Given his head by jockey Patrick Valenzuela, Brazilian-bred License To Run spurted away from the field on the final turn and romped to a five-length victory Saturday in the $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. II) at muddy Santa Anita Park.
License To Run covered 1 ½ miles in 2:28.72 on a sloppy track and paid $5, $3.80 and $2.80 while carrying 117 pounds for trainer Bobby Frankel and owner Goncalo Torrealba of Rio de Janeiro.
Due to inclement weather, the race, scheduled as a grade II turf event, was transferred to the main track. It was the first time since 1980 that the San Luis Obispo was forced to the main track. There were no scratches in the field of eight. In keeping with the policy of the American Graded Stakes Committee for races moved from turf to the main track, the race was automatically downgraded one grade for this running, subject to review. After reviewing the race, the committee determined that the original grade II status would be retained.
It was Frankel's 110th stakes victory at Santa Anita, good for second on the all-time list, and his second this month for Torrealba's T N T Stud. They teamed to win the Feb. 6 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) with Lundy's Liability, a contender for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 5.
Californian, the longest price in the race at 45-1, held second and returned $30.20 and $10. Modesto Linares rode the runner-up at 114 pounds. It was a neck back to T.H. Approval, Rene Douglas riding at 115 pounds, and a $3.60 show payoff.
License To Run has a 5-2-1 record from 11 starts and the $90,000 winner's share increased his earnings to $155,884. A 5-year-old dark bay by Exile King, License To Run won four of eight races in his native country and had won there over an off-track.
His best American race had been a close third in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT) in December. License To Run bided his time while alternating for the early lead through a slow pace. The first mile was run in 1:40.09, and that's when Valenzuela asked his mount for run.
"We were pretty much walking," Valenzuela said. "Around the three-eighths pole I asked him to pick it up, and he picked it up really nicely."
Gorylla, Special Matter, Sigfreto, Balustrade and Continental Red completed the order of finish.
Continental Red, the 3-1 second choice in the wagering, made an early run for the lead for Gary Stevens after stalking a slow pace (:49 1/5, 1:18 2/5) and then faded badly.