Declassify took a big jump in status from allowance winner to grade I victor June 28 when he captured the $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park. The 4-year-old son of Orientate won the seven-furlong event by a nose over gritty rival Cyclometer in a final time of 1:22.03 under jockey Martin Garcia (VIDEO).
"We always knew he was a grade I horse," said trainer Bob Baffert of Kaleem Shah's colt, who was purchased by Hill 'n' Dale Bloodstock for $450,000 at the 2012 Ocala Breeders' Sales April 2-year-olds in training sale. "We've been very high on this horse from day one, but he's had some minor issues so we've had to bring him along slowly. I really like the way he dug in today."
Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds bred the winner in Kentucky. Declassify is the first stakes winner and first graded stakes winner for his dam Mir Cat, an unraced daughter of Tale of the Cat .
Even-money favorite Sahara Sky was never a factor in the seven-furlong contest against five other rivals and finished last.
"I had an absolutely perfect trip," said jockey Joe Talamo, who rode Sahara Sky. "I wish I had an excuse but he just didn't fire today. Before the half-mile pole I knew I was in trouble because that's when I was starting to get after him and he just never did respond."
Declassify got a fast start out of the gate and was quickly at the shoulder of Cyclometer who set the early pace, taking the field through an opening quarter in a brisk :22.77. Not far behind Cyclometer and Declassify was 30-1 rival Indexical.
The two leaders continued to battle into the turn with Declassify managing to get his nose in front briefly after a half-mile in :45.50 and gaining as much as half a length over a stubborn Cyclometer as they rounded toward the top of the stretch. Coming out of the turn, however, Cyclometer regained the lead and deep into the stretch looked as if he would keep Declassify at bay.
Jockey Martin Garcia, however, kept the pressure on Declassify with several left-handed taps of the whip, and the colt responded with valiant effort, prevailing at the wire by a nose. The final time was 1:22.03.
"I thought I was beat at the top of the stretch," said Garcia. "My horse was trying everything, every step of the way. He never gave up. Cyclometer moved into me a little bit in the stretch and my horse was intimidated. He responded again though, he's such a good horse."
Declassify paid $6.60, $3.80, and $3.40. Cyclometer paid $4.80 and $3.60, while Indexical paid $5. The $2 exacta paid $32, and the $2 trifecta paid $401.60.