Eye of the Tiger wins the Affirmed Handicap.

Eye of the Tiger wins the Affirmed Handicap.

Benoit Photos

Eye Of The Tiger Romps to Affirmed Win

Alex Solis slipped favored Eye Of The Tiger through an opening at the rail at the head of the stretch and went on to a convincing triumph in the $103,096 Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Park.

Running for the first time since a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on May 3, the son of American Chance drew off to win by 4 1/2 lengths over pace setter Ministers Wild Cat, who held off Bullistic by a neck for the place. Four contested the 1 1/16-mile test run in a time of 1:42 1/5 on a fast track.

Ministers Wild Cat, ridden by Victor Espinoza, recovered after an awkward start and established an early lead of about 1 1/2 length over Bullistic on the backstretch while setting fractions of :23 2/5, :47 and 1:10 4/5.

On the turn for home, Bullistic, with Patrick Valenzuela riding, closed the gap on Ministers Wild Cat's outside to challenge for the lead and Espinoza came off the rail a bit, allowing Solis the necessary room to squeeze by. Eye Of The Tiger quickly established command in the stretch and won as much the best under steady handling.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for owner and breeder John D. Gunther, Eye Of The Tiger won his third race in seven career tries. The victory was the bay colt's first in a stake. He earned $63,120 for the victory and now boasts earnings of $185,329.

Sent off at 4-5, the winner paid $3.80 and $2.40. Ministers Wild Cat who made his first start for trainer Neil Drysdale since running fifth in the Lexington in April, returned $2.80. Bullistic was third, but there was no show wagering. Outta Here trailed throughout. The $2 exacta returned $7.40.

(Chart, Equibase)