Cassidy, Steelaninch Earn La Puente Nod

(from track report)
Trainer James Cassidy had his patience rewarded Saturday when British import Steelaninch, under jockey Victor Espinoza, won the $150,000 La Puente Stakes on the Santa Anita turf by a nose over 11-10 favorite Singletary, who was ridden by David Flores.

The victory gave Cassidy, a 57-year-old native of the Bronx, his third win from 54 starts at the 85-day meet, which ends next Sunday. Cassidy also has 13 seconds during the meet.

Flores lodged a claim of foul for alleged interference through the stretch against the winner, but it was disallowed.

Steelaninch, a gray son of Inchinor, rallied four-wide through the stretch and won the head bobber. Urban King rallied under Corey Nakatani to finish third, a length behind Singletary. Slew City Citadel finished fourth, one length behind Urban King.

"I always had faith in this horse," Cassidy said, "but we had to have a little luck, too. We had to have the luck of the rail not being out 30 feet like last time (when Steelaninch was second by 2 ½ lengths to Singletary in the March 14 Academy Road Stakes at one mile on turf). I knew Singletary was a good horse, having run second to Peace Rules, but with the way Steelaninch was training, I really thought all along he'd get the job done."

"My horse and David's horse were in real tight, but we never touched," Espinoza said. "I didn't think I would come down. He ran a very gutsy race. I'm very glad for the trainer (Cassidy). He needed that one."

It was the fifth win from 12 starts for Steelaninch, who carried 114 pounds over one mile on a firm turf course in 1:34.74. He paid $10.60 to win as the third choice in the field of seven 3-year-olds and earned $90,000 for his California owners, Jim Ford of Rancho Santa Fe and Deron Pearson of Santa Clarita.

It was the second-fastest running of the La Puente since the race was changed to one mile in 1996. Espinoza has ridden the La Puente winner in three of the last four years.

Our Bobby V. set the pace under Tyler Baze, reeling off fractions of :23.52, :47.87, 1:11.34 before fading in the drive. Singletary had first run on Steelaninch, and the two appeared to make brief contact in early stretch but the stewards ruled it was initiated by Slew City Citadel on Singletary, who ultimately was jostled between Steelaninch and the other horse.

(Chart, Equibase)