Minister Eric Third in Turf Return

Triple Crown candidate Minister Eric mad his long-awaited return to the races Saturday with a third-place finish in an $49,000 allowance/optional claiming event for 3-year-olds on the downhill turf course at Santa Anita.

It was Minister Eric's first race since finishing second behind San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) favorite Action This Day in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Oct. 25. The Richard Mandella trainee had been entered for a couple of races that failed to fill and was left out of the oversubscribed Baldwin Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the turf Feb. 28.

Sent off as the narrow 2-1 second choice in a field of eight going abut 6 1/2 furlongs, the chestnut son of Old Trieste finished 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner, Fabulous Groom. Wild Babe was second. The favorite, Kingdom Come, was fourth.

Ridden by Alex Solis, Minister Eric stalked the leaders coming down the hillside while a little wide, angled out a bit more for the stretch run and gained the show spot with a mild rally in the final furlong. The winning time was 1:12 3/5.

Owned by Diamond A Racing Corp., Minister Eric has one win, a maiden victory at Del Mar in August, from six starts, with two seconds and two thirds. He has earned $393,800.

(Chart, Equibase)