Slim Shadey was reluctant to load into the gate for the start of the $150,000 San Marcos Stakes (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Park Feb. 9, but he was all too ready to run once that gate opened. The 5-year-old Val Royal gelding shot to the lead from his outside post and never looked back, conquering the San Marcos in wire-to-wire fashion by a length over a game Interaction (VIDEO) .
Comeback rider Gary Stevens had his picture taken aboard the winner in his first graded stakes score since returning to the saddle at Santa Anita; his last stakes win was the 2005 Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) aboad Rock Hard Ten.
Simon Callaghan trains the Great Britain-bred Slim Shadey for his owner/breeder Phil Cunningham. The gelding had been winless in three graded stakes tries—including an 8th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita, since he won the John Henry Turf Classic (gr. IIT) in Arcadia last September. John Henry won the Sam Marcos in 1980 for trainer Ron McAnally, who sent out runner-up Interaction.
Stevens bolted with his mount and cleared the field of 12 just strides out of the gate. Racing well off the rail, they cruised past the grandstand the first time going :24.19 for the opening quarter while opening up by three, and then clicked off a :48.20 half mile.
"It was a very comfortable pace," noted Stevens. "I knew if they left me alone the race was over. I haven't had a lot of horses sprint like he did going a mile and a quarter. It was a sweet feeling."
The lead into the clubhouse turn was two lengths over Fire With Fire and Stevens kept Slim Shadey comfortably in front up the backstretch, completing six panels in 1:12.47. With a half mile to run Temple's Door began making up ground at the rail inside Fire With Fire, but neither could make an impression on the leader.
Swinging for home, Slim Shadey cut the corner and set sail, but Interaction came up the rail and was cutting into his margin. Swung outside Slim Shadey, Interaction continued to rally but was never getting to the winner, who held him at bay. All Squared Away got up for third 2 1/4 lengths further back. Slim Shadey hit the wire in 1:59.17 for the 10-furlong test.
Callaghan said Slim Shadey would go to Churchill Downs and take another crack the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) on Derby Day, a race in which he finished second a year ago.
Slim Shadey has won five of 26 starts and has banked $613,850, including the $90,000 payday in the San Marcos. He is out of the Chief’s Crown mare Vino Veritas.
Slim Shadey returned $13.40, $7.00, and $5.40. Interaction paid $5.20 and $3.60 while All Squared Away was good for $4.80. The $2 exacta returned $58.60.
Completing the order of finish were Fire With Fire, Huntsville, Juniper Pass, Fast Track, Shaun Washington, Temple’s Door, Richard’s Kid, Bridge of Gold, and Golden Itiz.