Intimidate and his groom along with jockey Mike Smith after winning the King Glorious at Los Alamitos Race Course

Intimidate and his groom along with jockey Mike Smith after winning the King Glorious at Los Alamitos Race Course

Benoit Photo

Intimidate Digs in Late to Win King Glorious

Vronksy colt got challenged by Lucky Romano, but pulled away to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

If not for a brutal trip in the Nov. 11 Golden Nugget Stakes at Golden Gate Fields, James Eaton, Maria Hess, and Don Muldoon's Intimidate might be an undefeated rising star.

After the 2-year-old Vronksy colt won his first two starts at Golden Gate, a hard steady early in the backstretch run of the Golden Nugget resulted in a far-back, sixth-place finish, but the Bob Hess Sr. trainee looked no worse for wear Dec. 16 in the $100,000 King Glorious Stakes at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Under jockey Mike Smith for the first time, Intimidate set the pace early in the one-mile King Glorious for California-bred juveniles, turned back a challenge from Lucky Romano in the stretch, and gamely pulled away late to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

"He was lucky he didn't go down last time (in the Golden Nugget)," Hess said. "I didn't know if he could run a mile, I didn't know if he could run on dirt, but I knew he can run. We had to find out and this looked like a pretty good spot."

Intimidate led by a length through an opening quarter in :23.65 and his margin was a head through a half in :47.64, but Lucky Romano put his head in front to hit six furlongs first in 1:12.34. Those two went at it the rest of the way, but despite the pressure, Intimidate dug in late on the inside and prevailed to finish off the mile in 1:38.76.

"He ran a great race," Smith said. "He got to pull himself up a little and was leaning in the stretch, but I was able to straighten him out and he held them off."

It was a similar result to the last time Intimidate and Lucky Romano met, in an Oct. 22 optional-claiming allowance sprinting on the synthetic main track at Golden Gate, where Intimidate edged his rival by three-quarters of a length.

"We know now he can handle two turns and dirt, and I think he might do better as time goes on," Hess said.

Campaigner closed from last in the seven-horse field to finish third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Lucky Romano, and was followed by Minoso, Royal Trump, Bookies Luck, and Oh Man, to complete the order of finish.

Bookies Luck, the 6-5 favorite in the King Glorious off back-to-back victories in Cal-bred competition in the I'm Smoking Stakes and Golden State Juvenile Stakes at Del Mar, got floated out five wide in the tight first turn at Los Alamitos, raced off the pace, and lacked any late punch.

Bred by Muldoon out of the Perfect Mandate mare Perfect Hostess, Intimidate now has three wins from four starts and $99,640 in earnings.

Video: King Glorious S.