Special Rate finished strong to capture Tuesday's third running of the $93,450 Bien Bien Stakes for 3-year olds by a nose in Hollywood Park's opening day feature.Ridden by Jose Valdivia at 114 pounds, Special Rate covered the one mile on the Lakeside Turf Course in 1:34 3/5. Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, the bay colt paid $6.20, $3.60 and $3.20.Royal Place, with Ryan Fogelsonger aboard at 115 pounds, held on for second and paid $9.60 and $5.80. White Buck, ridden by Kent Desormeaux at 119 pounds, paid $5.80 to show.Royal Place broke well and led down the backstretch and through the final turn. Special Rate came on to challenge entering the stretch, took the lead and held in a battle of nose bobs for his first stakes win."When we passed the eighth-pole, my horse just found another gear," Valdivia said. "He just decided he was going to wear down the other horse, and that's exactly what happened. This is really a racehorse."The Bien Bien was Special Rate's second career victory in six starts. The $43,470 that went to the winner increased Special Rate's total earnings to $87,790.
Trained by Bobby Frankel, Special Rate broke his maiden at Santa Anita last February and most recently finished second by a head there in a restricted allowance race. He was sired by Pulpit and is owned and bred by Juddmonte Farms, Inc.