Ex-Claimer Bluesthestandard Takes Texas Mile

(from track report)
Rags to riches Bluesthestandard became a multiple graded stakes winner Saturday with an authoritative four-length score over Bonapaw in the $300,000 Texas Mile (gr. III) at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The hard-trying California invader, twice claimed for $10,000 in his career, won his fifth race in a row and second consecutive stakes race following a two-length victory in the Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) last month at Santa Anita.

"He's such an intelligent horse and such a competitor," trainer Ted West Jr. said. "He just thinks he's supposed to win. He doesn't care who he runs against – Kona Gold, Bonapaw or all of these horses today – he just thinks he's that much better than them."

Bluesthestandard, who improved his record to 14 wins in 21 starts, pulled away in the stretch from a tightly packed bunch that simply couldn't keep up. Bonapaw surprised everyone by settling off the early pace, then finishing well to nab second. Pacesetter Compendium finished third by a neck, a half-length ahead of his Steve Asmussen-trained stablemate Private Emblem in fourth.

The final time of 1:35.68 was the fastest one mile clocking of the Lone Star Park season so far. The impressive effort validated the heavy support of the betting public, who made Bluesthestandard the 3-2 favorite.

"I think he knows how to do his job pretty well," West said.

The victorious connections fretted the past two days about drawing post No. 9 for the one-mile race, a spot that often leaves horses hung out wide or dropped too far back into the first turn. But Martin Pedroza, who traveled from his Southern California base to ride, hustled Bluesthestandard out of the gate and had the 6-year-old in perfect position from the start.

"I really expected Bonapaw to be in front and I would lay second," Pedroza said.

Bluesthestandard easily cleared the horses to his immediate inside and angled down towards the rail. Pedroza and his mount sat chilly behind Compendium, who was fortunate to find himself alone without the expected pressure from the usually speedy Bonapaw, winner of last fall's Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. The opening quarter-mile went in :23.93, followed up by a half-mile time of :47.09.

"Nobody pressured me on the backside making me go faster," Pedroza said.

Nearing the quarter pole, Bluesthestandard ranged up outside the leader and it was clear that it would take a monster effort to challenge him.

"I never had to get after him at all," Pedroza said. "I knew what would happen when it was time to go. When I picked up the reigns, he just opened up on the field. I just tapped him (on the neck) and hand-rode him down to the wire."

Those who supported Bluesthestandard at the mutuel windows got back $5 on each $2 win bet. The 6-year-old Georgia-bred gelding became the first Texas Mile favorite to win in seven runnings of the race.

The race for place was wide-open down the stretch. Bonapaw ran a smart race to finish second while displaying a new dimension that should serve him well in the future.

"We were thrilled to see him relax for the first time," said jockey Gerard Melancon, who was reunited with Bonapaw for the first time since a 22-race stint together ended in November. "He's been speed crazy since he was a 2-year-old. Now, at seven, I think he's really starting to realize what we need him to do. He finished well for me."

Bluesthestandard's $170,000 winner's share of the purse raised his career earnings to $490,410. Owner Jeffrey Sengara, a lumberman based in Vancouver, British Columbia, was elated with the win.

"It was just spectacular," Sengara said. "We were so worried with such a strong group of horses and drawing the outside. This guy just never leaves any doubt. He's just an amazing horse and we're so blessed to have him."

(Chart, Equibase)