Cees Stable's Avanzado isn't eligible for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), so he ran his biggest race at Santa Anita on Sunday, controlling the $200,000 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) every step of the way.
It would cost $200,000 to supplement the 6-year-old Argentine-bred son of Luhuk to the Sprint.
"He's a double supplement so he won't be going – unless someone wants to share," joked owner Michael Cooper.
Avanzado, ridden by Tyler Baze, set a hot pace but had plenty left for the stretch run, winning comfortably by 1 1/2 length over Captain Squire and Bluesthestandard in an excellent time of 1:08. Captain Squire was a head better than Bluesthestandard for second in the six-horse Ancient Title.
Even-money favorite Yankee Gentleman moved into contention on the outside for jockey Julie Krone on the final turn, but offered no challenge after Avanzado put away the Captain Squire and Bluesthestandard in the stretch. He was fourth, finishing three lengths behind the winner.
In spite of being inside of Captain Squire, Avanzado got the lead early while cooking through early splits of :21 2/5 and :43 2/5 as Captain Squire kept the pressure on.
"I was hoping they wouldn't catch us (in the stretch)," Baze said. "At the top of the stretch I smooched to him a little and he took off like a rocket."
Doug O'Neill saddled the chestnut to his 10th career win in 26 starts while earning $120,000 Sunday. Second in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) in March, he returned with sub-par performances in the Triple Bend (gr. I) at Hollywood Park, where he was sixth, and the Bing Crosby (gr. II) at Del Mar, when he wound up seventh. He tuned up for Sunday's victory with a second-place finish, five lengths behind Yankee Gentleman, in the Pirates Bounty at Del Mar Sept. 6.
"(Yankee Gentleman) broke really well, had a really great position. I asked him to run around the turn and he just took off," Krone said. "I had him on a pretty nice angled-out trip, and he responded just as he did at Del Mar that day that he won, and then when we turned for home, he didn't keep running. He just flattened out a little bit."
Avanzado increased his career earnings to $922,750.
"He kind of fooled us a little bit because he looked really good coming back from Dubai but his first couple races were sub par for him," O'Neill said.
Sent off at 8-1, the winner paid $19.60, $6.40 and $3.80. Captain Squire, ridden by Alex Solis, returned $3.40 and $2.80. Bluesthestandard, Mike smith aboard, showed for $3.40. the $2 exacta was worth $70.80.
Trainer Jeff Mullins said he is still considering taking Captain Squire to the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I).
Zavata and Proud Citizen completed the order of finish.