Kona Gold settled behind This Tune Can Hum through the early going before rallying to win the $196,498 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) by three lengths Saturday at Santa Anita. Under Alex Solis, Kona Gold completed the six furlongs in 1:08.11, the fastest six furlongs of the current Santa Anita meet.
"He was a bit sluggish coming out of the gate (Saturday)," said Solis. "Maybe it just took him a little while to get used to carrying the weight (124 pounds). But when Regal Thunder moved up to him on the turn, that's when he really got in gear. From there he just ran a great race."
Regal Thunder finished second, followed by Elaborate and This Tune Can Hum. Chilukki was scratched.
Kona Gold paid $2.60 and $2.10. Regal Thunder was worth $2.10 to place. Due to the four-horse field, there was no show wagering. The $1 exacta paid $4.10.
Kona Gold is a 6-year-old son of Kona Gold who finished second in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint. He earned owners Bruce Headley, Irwin and Andrew Molasky, and High Tech Stables $123,060 for the win, his eighth in 16 career starts. Kona Gold improved to four wins from five starts on his carefully planned 2000 campaign.
"I learned that from (Charlie) Whittingham," said trainer Headley. "Make your plans a year in advance. He used to plan his races and workouts a year in advance. I used to be stabled next to him, I was learning something I didn't know I was learning."
Kona Gold was bred in Kentucky by Carlos Perez. (Chart, Equibase