Calkins Road, second from right, drives to front in the California Cup Classic.

Calkins Road, second from right, drives to front in the California Cup Classic.

Benoit photos

Calkins Road Finds Clear Sailing in Cal Cup Classic

Old pro Laffitt Pincay Jr. picked up his third Cal Cup Classic victory aboard 10-1 Calkins Road Saturday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

Pincay guided the 3-year-old son of Illinois Storm outside of a traffic jam in deep stretch of the 1 1/8-mile race and Calkins Road did the rest, holding off Continental Road by a neck in an all-out duel to the wire. Final time was 1:49.16.

The 13th running of the $250,000 featured race of California Cup Day was an eventful one for the nine runners. The 5-2 favorite, Hot Market hopped in the air and nearly unseated his rider, Jose Valdivia Jr., losing all chance. The stretch run was also rough. Pace-setting Eric Da Bomb tired after setting a :22.63 and :46.17 early pace and slowed to a crawl as Grey Memo, making a strong bid on the inside, could not find room between horses to get by Eric Da Bomb.

John Shirreffs trains Calkins Road, who is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Shapiro, who collected $150,000 for the victory. Calkins Road won for the third time in eight career starts and improved his earnings to more than $380,000.

"I'll tell you, he got the lead coming down the stretch, and I think he pulled himself up," Pincay said. "He started waiting. And Patrick (Valenzuela on Continental Red) went by us really fast, and I didn't know if I was going to be able to recuperate.

"Sure enough, he kept coming and kept trying, and I kept trying hard with him left-handed, and little by little, he came back and got the job done.

"Coming into the stretch, I had nowhere to go. But coming down the stretch, I finally found some room."

"I thought I was a winner," said Valenzuela. "But I got the worst of it in both turns. In the first turn, (Earl of Danby) was running off with Mike (Smith), and ran into me pretty good, and carried me six-wide. Then in the second turn, Laffit (Pincay Jr.) had nowhere to go, Mike was trying to get out of the way, Laffit kind of bumped him, and he kind of bumped me. I just had a really wide trip, let's put it that way."

Pincay previously won the classic with Sky Jack in 2000 and College Town in 1994.

(Chart, Equibase)