Doug Cauthen's Unbridled Energy, rallying from far back, wore down favored Greeley's Galaxy in the lane and held off an unlucky Canteen close to home for a three-quarters of a length victory in the $194,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup (gr. II) for 4-year-olds at Santa Anita Saturday.
Making just his second start since a fifth-place finish in the Ohio Derby (gr. II) July 2, Unbridled Energy put it all together for jockey Garrett Gomez, who found clear sailing between horses on the far turn and burst for home in the stretch. They completed the 1 1/6-mile event in 1:44 1/5 on a track labeled fast but a little heavy after rain earlier in the day.
"I had a longer run than I wanted to but he overcame it," Gomez said. "He ran a tremendous race. I found a place to go about the five-sixteenth pole, got him out, set him on his way and he did the rest."
Canteen, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, had to take up sharply at the rail in mid-stretch when blocked while trying to squeeze past Greeley's Galaxy. Altering course to the outside, Canteen finished with interest but ran out of room.
"I was on much the best horse," Valenzuela insisted. "He was much the best. We'll get 'em in the Big 'Cap."
Valenzuela referred to the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on March 4, although both horses are also expected to run in the Strub Stakes Feb. 4, the final leg of the Strub series.
Greeley's Galaxy, with Kent Desormeaux in the irons, held on for third, 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner in a much-improved effort over his seventh-place showing in the Malibu.
Richard Mandella took over training duties on Unbridled Energy from Elliott Walden after the Ohio Derby. The gray Unbridled's Song
colt ran fifth in his comeback race, the Malibu (gr. I) on opening day at Santa Anita Dec. 26. It was the first win for Unbridled Energy since he captured the Marine (Can-III) at Woodbine May 21.
"He ran really nice," Mandella said. "I just told Garrett (Gomez) to ride him like he owned him. He'll probably run back in the Strub."
Swiss Lad, breaking from the rail, led the field all the way to the stretch before giving way after solid fractions of :22 4/5, :46 1/5 and 1:11 1/5. Unbridled Energy showed no early speed as the field spread out severely on the backstretch, but was quickly making up ground as they reached the far turn. He gained the lead approaching mid-stretch and led by a half-length at the eighth pole.
Unbridled Energy, the 7-2 fourth choice in the field of seven betting interests (there were a pair of two-horse entries), paid $9.60, $5.60, and $3. His fourth win in eight career starts was worth $120,000, boosting his earnings to $282,862.
Dr. Charles S. Giles bred the winner, who is out of the Hold Your Peace mare Ataentsic, in Kentucky.
Canteen, in his initial stakes try for trainer Neil Drysdale, returned $4.60 and $2.60, completing a $37.60 exacta. The fast-improving Canteen, who has now finished first or second in his last five starts, was coupled with Sort It Out.
"He got stuck, really stuck," said Drysdale. "He ran a helluva race. He settled well, and I was very pleased with him."
Greeley's Galaxy, a Triple Crown contender last year, lost his fourth straight race since a 9 1/2-length win in the Illinois Derby (gr. II) in April. The Warren Stute-trained colt was out of action for seven months prior to the Malibu. Greeley's Galaxy was coupled in the wagering with the Mandella-trained Osidy.
Swiss Lad finished up fourth, with Sort It Out, Swing Your Partner, Distorted, Osidy, and the English-bred Brecon Beacon following.