Buddy Gil, the 2003 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) champion, ended a four-race losing streak Friday with a half-length victory over Royal Place in the $63,700 classified allowance feature at Santa Anita Park.
Ridden by Alex Solis at 116 pounds, Buddy Gil ran one mile in 1:34 3/5 and paid $4.40 and $2.60. There was no show wagering. The victory gave Jeff Mullins a 42-39 lead over Doug O'Neill in the trainers' standings as the 85-day Winter/Spring Meeting winds up this weekend.
A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Eastern Echo, Buddy Gil has won six of 14 starts with earnings of $768,455 for owner/breeder Billingsley Creek Ranch and Desperado Stables. Friday's win was worth $39,000.
After his head victory in the Santa Anita Derby, Buddy Gil finished sixth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and was unplaced in three starts this winter at Santa Anita, including a sixth in the March 3 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I).
"He'd had three pretty bad trips at the meet, hopefully this win will build a little fire under him," Mullins said of Buddy Gil.
The victory wasn't easy, however. Buddy Gil was forced to gradually wear down Royal Place, who yielded grudgingly despite setting taxing splits of :22 3/5, :45 and 1:08 4/5. The runner-up, ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr. at 116 pounds, paid $2.80 for place, and was followed by Touch the Wire and Crisantemo.
Fly to the Wire was scratched.