High-cruising Cost of Freedom opened up by a couple of lengths in the lane and held steady under some urging by jockey Tyler Baze to win the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) as the even-money choice at Hollywood Park June 5.
The grade I-winning 7-year-old Cee's Tizzy gelding posted a three-quarter-length victory over E Z's Gentleman, who closed some ground on the winner in the final furlong for Martin Pedroza but came up short. My Summer Slew, ridden by Alonso Quinonez, finished third, 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Cost of Freedom carried top weight of 122 pounds while clocking a six-furlong Cushion Track time of 1:08.49.
John Sadler trains Cost of Freedom, who appears to be in top form again for brothers Gary and Cecil Barber.
Cost of Freedom sped to the lead soon out of the gate with M One Rifle, leaving from the far outside post in the field of seven, clinging to him through fast quarter-mile fractions of :22:05 and :44.44.
The pace, though, took its toll on M One Rifle, winner of the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita in December who was asked to keep up with Cost of Freedom on the turn. E Z's Gentleman, angled to the outside by Pedroza, took up the chase coming into the stretch, and My Summer Slew persevered along the inside. But neither could get on even terms with the determined Cost of Freedom, who finished willingly under intermittent right-handed encouragement from Baze.
Winner of Oak Tree's Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I) in 2008, Cost of Freedom missed most of the 2009 season with an injury. He returned late in the year to put together a three-race campaign concluding with a third-place finish in the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita Nov. 7, losing by just a head to Dancing in Silks.
"He's back to his old self, huh? He's just incredible," Baze said. "He's 100 percent right now and if they can just keep him like this for the rest of the year it's on to the Breeders' Cup again."
Cost of Freedom has won both of his starts in 2010, beginning the season with a 4 1/2-length optional claiming allowance race on the main Hollywood strip May 6. The Los Angeles victory, worth $60,000, boosted his record to 8-1-3 in 15 starts with earnings of $666,105.
Co-owner Gary Barber said Cost of Freedom may wait until the Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar for his next start.
"We'll keep him six furlongs, but I think he'll go further," he said. "What a neat horse. The main thing is to keep him healthy. If everything goes right, we'll shoot for the Breeders' Cup."
Harris Farms bred Cost of Freedom in California. The dark bay is out of Freedom Dance, by Moscow Ballet.
The winner paid $4, $3, and $2.60, completing a $22 exacta. E Z's Gentleman, an allowance winner on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs in his most recent start May 1 for trainer Bob Baffert, returned $5.80 and $4.20. My Summer Slew paid $7.40 to show in his graded-stakes debut for trainer Craig Dollase.