Under a patient ride by jockey Jose Santos, Charge d'Affaires split horses in the stretch and bested Ladies Din in a race to the wire to win the $500,000 Citation Handicap (gr. IIT) Saturday at Hollywood Park. Charge d'Affaires completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.30 while racing over firm turf.
Asidero went to the early lead while pressed by Devine Wind, the latter a bit rank while under restraint. Charge d'Affaires tracked the leaders while just inside of Ladies Din, as Manndar and Super Quercus raced in seventh and eighth. As they turned for home, Ladies Din moved up while wide as Santos waited for a hole to open. Meanwhile, Manndar and Super Quercus split horses on the turn as they began to close in on the top group. In the stretch, Charge d'Affaires also split horses and rallied to catch Ladies Din near the wire, winning by a nose.
"I saw a situation around the middle of the turn where Alex Solis' horse (Asidero) was a little bit uncomfortable and he was starting to drift out a little bit," said Santos. "So I stayed behind him, and when he moved just one path to the outside, I sent my horse. He finished very strongly to the end. I think going through like that was the difference in the race."
Native Dancer closed along the center of the track to finish third, a half-length behind Ladies Din. Super Quercus was fourth, a head in front of Manndar, who was bottled up in traffic for most of the stretch run. Devine Wind finished sixth, followed by Kahal, Asidero, Jokerman, and Midnight Foxtrot.
For Ladies Din, the narrow second-place finish marks the fourth time in less than two years the 5-year-old gelding has finished a half-length back or less in a graded stakes. In June, he finished a half-length behind Silic in the Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT). In 1999, he finished a neck behind Joe Who in the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) and a nose behind Silic in that year's renewal of the Shoemaker Mile.
Prior to the Citation, Charge d'Affaires returned from a nine-month layoff to successfully defend his 1999 win in the Knickerbocker Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct. Trained by Christophe Clement, Charge d'Affaires (Kendor--Lettre de Cachet, by Secreto) earned $300,000 for the win, his sixth in 18 starts. Besides the two Knickerbocker wins, Charge d'Affaires also won the Prix Morny (Fr-I) as a juvenile in France.
Charge d'Affaires returned $31.80, $13.60 and $8.20. Favored Ladies Din paid $5 and $3.60. Native Desert returned $5.80 to show. The $1 exacta paid $76.80.
"I believe he goes to Honk Kong now," said assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul, referring to the Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on Dec.17. "We'll see how he comes back from this race. To win the Knickerbocker twice, and then to bounce back and come back and win here with the shipping, it was a great performance." (Chart, Equibase