Video: San Pedro S. (BT)
Not in the field the first time around, when the San Pedro was washed away by a heavy rainstorm March 11, Iron Rob was the only extra horse added to the field in the redrawn race and upset odds-on favorite Denman's Call by 1 1/2 lengths in the six-furlong sprint.
In his previous race, trainer George Papaprodromou wanted to try the Twirling Candy colt on the turf, but the Baffle Stakes Feb. 21, pegged for the hillside turf course at Santa Anita, was taken off the grass. Iron Rob won anyway in his stakes debut, but was vanned off after the race when he took an odd step, forcing jockey Santiago Gonzalez to jump off his mount. After being checked out back at the barn, no injury was discovered, so they ran him back less than a month later in the San Pedro.
"Pedigree-wise, we wanted to try him on the turf," Papaprodromou said. "That didn't work out, so we went back to the dirt. So far, so good."
On Saturday, with jockey Stewart Elliott aboard for the first time, Iron Rob dueled with He's a Tiger early, clicking off speedy fractions of :21.91 and :44.55 through a half-mile, held a two-length advantage in the stretch, and did not allow heavily favored Denman's Call to pass.
Iron Rob hit the wire in 1:09.05 to give Elliott his first stakes win at Santa Anita. Elliott, who is best known for his Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) wins with Smarty Jones in 2004, has been racing in Southern California since January after sitting all of 2015 out while managing a deer farm in Kentucky.
BALAN: Elliott Back Riding at Santa Anita
"He made me feel really confident," Elliott said of the trip with Iron Rob. "I knew (Denman's Call) was coming, but he was going to have to come running to get me, because I've got some horse, as long as he responded like I thought he would."
The winner paid $21.80, $4.60, and $3 across the board. Denman's Call brought $2.20 and $2.10, and Mt Veeder, 2 1/4 lengths back in third, delivered $2.40 to show. Gold Rush Dancer, He's a Tiger, and Boldly True completed the order of finish. Graded stakes winner Toews On Ice was scratched.
Bred in Florida by John Pereira, out of the Tiger Ridge mare Cold Blooded, Iron Rob now has a 3-2-0 record from 10 starts, with $157,320 in earnings.
For Denman's Call, who came in an impressive third last time out—behind undefeated Nyquist and Exaggerator in the San Vicente (gr. II)—his trip was not ideal. The Northern Afleet gelding pressed the pace four wide in the backstretch and in the turn, but lacked the late kick to get past the winner. Denman's Call was also flattered March 19, when Cupid won the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, which likely played into his favoritism. Albeit at an entirely different distance, Denman's Call defeated the Tapit colt by 3 3/4 lengths going 5 1/2 furlongs in his debut Jan. 9 at Santa Anita.