Despite losing an hour's sleep with the advent of Daylight Saving Time, it was business as usual Sunday for Team Melatonin after the gelding's front-running victory by 4 ¼ lengths at 16-1 under Joe Talamo for trainer David Hofmans in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap.
Melatonin, a bay son of Kodiak Kowboy owned by Glendale resident Susan Osborne who campaigns under the nom de course Tarabilla Farms, had run in only two stakes before Saturday and never raced beyond a mile and a sixteenth.
He had been assigned 114 pounds for the Handicap, but carried one over at 115. It was the lowest weight carried by a Big 'Cap winner since 1989, when Martial Law toted 113 winning at 50-1 under Martin Pedroza.
Hofmans and his owners celebrated the victory at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, which presented the Big 'Cap. Scotty McClellan, Talamo's agent, drove home and celebrated with a grilled cheese sandwich (sharp cheddar).
“The horse was training well and we rode him in a two-other-than (condition race, winning by nearly four lengths Feb. 5),” said McClellan, a youthful-looking 61 who has been an agent 44 years, representing Hall of Famers Chris McCarron and Alex Solis, among others.
“But I had other commitments and kind of lost him for a race or two.
“David freshened him, brought him back, we worked him, and he kept looking for another spot, wanting to go a mile on the turf. But it rained and the race didn't go, so finally we decided on the two-other-than long on dirt and he won by nearly four lengths.
“Then David said he was going to nominate to three stakes, the Kilroe, the San Carlos and the Santa Anita Handicap, and Joe kept pushing him to run in the Handicap, telling him, 'He'll run all day, he wasn't tired,' and finally convinced David.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
“I don't have any thoughts about where to run next,” said Hofmans, whose signature victories heretofore have been with Alphabet Soup in the Breeders' Cup Classic in 1996 and Touch Gold under McCarron in the 1997 Belmont, denying Silver Charm the Triple Crown.
“We'll play it by ear and talk with The Team, meaning Scotty and Joe, and see what they want to do. But the horse looked really good this morning.
“It wasn't a big effort for him.”
McClellan, who has been plying his trade since the age of 17, now has six Big 'Cap wins as an agent: Vigors, 1978, Darrel McHargue; Alysheba, McCarron, 1988; Free House, McCarron, 1999; Malek, Alex Solis, 1998; Tiznow, McCarron, 2001, and Melatonin, Talamo, yesterday.
As for his grilled cheese sandwich?
“It tasted like filet,” McClellan said.
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