Continental Red Wins San Luis Rey in Blanket Finish

Speedy Pick, a 59-1 longshot, led through every step of the San Luis Rey Handicap (gr. IIT) except the ones that mattered most. In the final strides, Continental Red rallied to win Saturday's $250,000 race by a nose at Santa Anita. Keemoon also surged ahead of Speedy Pick at the wire to finish second, a head in front of the pacesetter.

"The last two races, he was unlucky to lose," said winning jockey Patrick Valenzuela. "He got pressured by a horse around the turn the last time, and he came up a little bit late the last part. Today he closed strongly, along with (Keemoon), and prevailed the last part. I feel very fortunate."

Sharon M. Fitzpatrick's Continental Red completed the 1 1/2 miles in 2:26.81 on firm turf. He returned $7.80, $4, and $3.60 while earning $150,000 for the win. Keemoon paid $8 and $5. Speedy Pick paid $10.60 to show. The $1 exacta returned $29.80.

Ringsakiddy finished fourth, followed by even-money favorite Denon, Straight Flush, Our Main Man, and Coyote Lakes. El Gran Papa was scratched.

Continental Red is a 6-year-old chestnut son of Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Flying Continental out of the unraced Glaros mare Sharp Looking Lady. The San Luis Rey marks his first stakes win after three runner-up performances in stakes company, including his two most recent starts. He has now won five of 39 career starts.

"I guess the San Juan (Capistrano, gr. IT on April 21) is the logical next spot," said winning trainer Ian Jory. "I don't think distance (about 1 3/4 miles) is a problem for him."

Keemoon might also try the boys again in the San Juan Capistrano, according to Drysdale.

"She certainly runs well fresh," said the conditioner. "We'll either look at the San Juan or the Bewitch (gr. IIIT, Keeneland, April 25)." (Chart, Equibase)