Mayakovsky in Smart Win, Sunshine Classic Up

(from staff and track reports)
Mayakovsky, a strapping dark bay or brown son of Matty G, raced to a front-running one-length victory in a one-mile turf race at Santa Anita Thursday. After the race, trainer Patrick Biancone proclaimed the Florida-bred 4-year-old on course for the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25.

Biancone opted for the $61,000 grass race instead of a workout for Mayakovsky, who was making his first start on the turf.

"I actually wanted to work him on the turf before this (condition) book came out," Biancone said. "But when I saw the race I decided I'd just run him in it instead. I didn't tell anyone I was going to do that because I wanted to make sure he was ready. So I'm glad it worked out so well."

Last year's Gotham Stakes (gr. III) winner underwent throat surgery following an unplaced finish in the Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II) Aug. 3 at Saratoga.

He was ninth in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on opening day at Santa Anita Dec. 26 in his first start since then.

According to Biancone, lasting effects of being unable to breathe well were responsible for Mayakovsky's unplaced showing in the Dec. 26 Malibu Stakes (gr. I).

"In the (Malibu) he got to the same point on the turn where before he was unable to catch a breath and stopped," Biancone explained. "The jockey told me that after he took his breath, he started running again and had a ton of horse at the wire. That's when he figured out he could breathe again. It was different in the mornings, which is why he always trained so well.

"Did you see the times?" Biancone asked. "He came home in :11 and change and he really did it easily."

Mayakovsky was ridden by 23-year-old French jockey Tony Farina, who was winning his first race at Santa Anita. Farina guided Mayakovsky through a leisurely first quarter in :24.07, but increased the pace to finish in a sprightly 1:34.01 under 117 pounds

Owned by Michael Tabor, Mayakovsky, along the rail, held off all challenges through the homestretch. Mayakovsky earned $36,600 for his third win from seven outings while defeating a field of five. Alyzig, ridden by David Flores, was second, more than a length in front of Poker Brad.

Dream Machine, the 6-5 favorite, was fourth, three lengths behind Poker Brad. Splendid Times was last. Marine, the 2-1 morning line favorite, was scratched.

The victor paid $7, $4 and $3.40. Alyzig returned $4.20 and $3.20. Poke Brad paid $3.60.

(Chart, Equibase)